The Georgian Group is delighted to announce that the City of London has approved the designation of a new conservation area. At the heart of the Creechurch Conservation Area is the Bevis Marks Synagogue, a building which the Group has been actively involved in campaigning to protect from the threat of tall buildings.
Readers may recall the Group’s call for action, some two years ago now, when we highlighted the threat of two applications within the setting of Bevis Marks. The first was for a 47 storey tower at 31 Bury Street and the second a 27 storey tower at 33 Creechurch Lane. Had they been permitted, both applications would have caused significant harm to the setting and significance of the synagogue and we were vocal in highlighting this threat to the City.
As part of our work in 2021, the Group wrote to the Lord Mayor requesting further protection for this internationally important heritage asset. This campaign, supported by a number of other interested parties, encouraged the City to put forward for public consultation three options for a Creechurch Conservation Area. The smaller of these options would not have ensured that light – a fundamental requirement for the practices of Judaism – would have continued to enter the synagogue.
The Georgian Group wrote in support of the largest of the options, proposed by Alec Forshaw and Esther Robinson Wild, which encompasses the grade II* St Botolph’s-without-Aldgate by George Dance the elder. The presence of St Botolph’s, alongside Bevis Marks synagogue and St Katherine’s Cree lends a distinctive sacred character to the area. This extends to now lost former synagogues, notably the Great Synagogue which was adapted and rebuilt, with architects James Spiller and George Dance the Elder involved in its different iterations.
In addition to the recent conservation area designation, the Synagogue is currently undergoing conservation works as part of a successful NLHF grant scheme. Once completed, the new ancillary building will exhibit various archival items telling the story of the synagogue and its links with the surrounding area. The Georgian Group is delighted to see this important heritage asset protected for many more years to come.
Image: Bevis Marks, Credit: Edward Waller