Above: view of the synagogue from Bevis Marks.
(*Sephardi.org.uk): “Please note: Bevis Marks Synagogue is not open during the week. It is open for Shabbat services only. It is shut weekday for renovations till at least the end of this year.”
“Bevis Marks, classified as part of the A1211, is a short street (about 150 m long) in the ward of Aldgate in the City of London. Traffic runs northwest in a one-way direction into Camomile Street, and parallel to Houndsditch which runs southeast one-way.
The street name has been recorded as Bewesmarkes (1407), Bevys Marke (1450), Bevesmarkes (1513), Bevers-market (1630), and Beavis Markes (1677), prior to Bevis Marks (since 1720). The antiquarian John Stow believed the name to derive from the Abbots of Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, in whose ownership this part of the city was until the Dissolution of the Monasteries. This etymology was confirmed as correct by E. Ekwall in his “Street-names of the City of London” (1954). At that time, their possessions were passed to Sir Thomas Heneage, a gentleman of the Privy chamber in attendance on King Henry VIII. He is commemorated in the name of nearby Heneage Lane.
Bevis Marks is home to the Grade I listed Bevis Marks Synagogue, the oldest synagogue in the United Kingdom in continual use.”
It was reported at bbc.co.uk four days ago:
“The UK’s oldest synagogue could potentially have to shut if plans to build two high-rise towers beside it are approved, its trustees have said.
The developments have been proposed for two streets surrounding Bevis Marks in the City of London.
The synagogue’s trustees said if they are constructed, daily services would become “almost impossible” as they would block out nearly all sunlight.
The City of London Corporation said a final decision had not yet been made.
Bevis Marks was built in 1701 and was the first synagogue to be created after Jews were allowed back into England by Oliver Cromwell, following their banishment by Edward I in 1290.
The Grade I listed building is thought to be the oldest synagogue in Europe to have remained in continuous use, with it currently being home to the UK’s Spanish and Portuguese Jewish community.
Developers have proposed to build a 21-storey building on Creechurch Lane and a 48-floor tower in Bury Street which the synagogue trustees argue would block out nearly all sunlight on the building, except for one hour a day.
Such a move would make services “almost impossible” as the synagogue is currently only lit by up to 240 candles and some electric lighting which was installed in 1928. It cannot be added to due to planning restrictions on the building, the trustees claim.
Shalom Morris, rabbi for Bevis Marks, said the proposed towers “would be catastrophic” and the “very survival of our great synagogue as a place of worship is at stake”.
“Not only will light be blocked, on which the building depends for ambiance, spirituality, and atmosphere, but the very foundations will be at risk,” he said.
The synagogue’s chair, Jonathan Solomons, added that the proposed towers were “a step too far” and threatened “not just Jewish but everyone’s heritage”.
A spokesperson for the City of London Corporation said a final decision “has yet been made” about the proposals.
It said it could not comment on specific applications ahead of a decision but the planning committee “considers all relevant planning matters, including relevant representations both for and against a development, before taking a final decision”.
A decision about the plans is expected next month.”