A note for your diaries, as next month there will be a rare opportunity to explore a tiny jewel of secret London, a 1719 Huguenot merchant’s house that was converted into a synagogue, and is now in a precariously derelict state.

While the decay is troubling and curtails letting people in too often, it does make for a remarkably atmospheric place to visit when it is open.

About half of the building is still off-limits as it is too fragile to let anyone stomp around – including sadly the 3rd-floor bedroom which was untouched for 10 years and is a time-capsule of a lonely recluse.

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The building – being owned by a trust seeking to convert it into a museum of immigration – has quite a few displays dotted around the place showing off the various aspects of immigration in the UK.

There is no need to book, however openings, thanks to their rarity have been very popular, so please be prepared to queue. Entry is free, donations appreciated.

Opening times:

  • Sunday 14th June, 12-5 (last entry 4:30)
  • Sunday 21st June, 12-5 (last entry 4:30)

Ian has visited it before – review here. The building is at 19 Princelet Street, in Shoreditch.

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5 comments on “Rare opening of a derelict Georgian house
  1. Annie S says:

    I find this building fascinating, I have visited four times and am tempted to go again! Not sure why I find it so compelling – there is just an ‘atmosphere’ about the place. Having read Rachel Lichtenstein’s book Rodinsky’s Room, I would really love to go upstairs to the out of bounds area.

  2. Why on earth are Jewish communities throughout the UK not trying to raise money to help preserve this wonderful original London synagogue? The N. London synagogues particularly – whose members’ ancestors mostly came from the East End – should perhaps consider helping to fund the Princelet St synagogue restoration. It would be a mitzvah (transl. ‘a pious duty’) & show that we care about the history of our Community.

    • Sarah Bernarde says:

      Miriam I totally agree, my gg grandparents were married there, and I was very moved when I visited.

  3. Stewart Permutt says:

    My parents like many Jewish people my age came from the East End. I am not a religious person but love the culture. The Jewish characters that peopled the East End were what I called the real Jewish people. Hard-working immigrants with an amazing humour and attitude to life. Alas their culture and language (Yiddish) has disappeared and the modern generation have lost this culture. Waves of anti-Semitism are creeping through Europe and the government in Israel is not helping us. This synagogue represents a part of me that will never die.

  4. liane says:

    I visited eighteenth century synagogues in the South of France and what was so moving about those empty buildings were the lists of names on the walls. In Princelet street amidst all the dilapidation we can still see the names of members of the congregation . People lived here and must be remembered. If the building is allowed to crumble and fall their modest claim to history is lost. It is part of my history that is lost a part of all our histories.

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