The Sunderland Synagogue is a former Orthodox Jewish congregation and synagogue, located on Ryhope Road, in Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, England, in the United Kingdom. The congregation was formed as the Sunderland Hebrew Congregation in 1861 and worshiped in the Ashkenazi rite until the congregation was dissolved in 2006.[2]

Sunderland Synagogue
The former synagogue in 2006, the year the congregation ceased meeting
AffiliationOrthodox Judaism (former)
RiteNusach Ashkenaz
Ecclesiastical or organisational statusSynagogue (1928–2006)
StatusClosed (as a synagogue); vacant
LocationRyhope Road, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, England
CountryUnited Kingdom
Sunderland Synagogue is located in Tyne and Wear
Sunderland Synagogue
Location of the former synagogue
in Tyne and Wear
Geographic coordinates54°53′42″N 1°22′44″W / 54.895°N 1.379°W / 54.895; -1.379
Architect(s)Marcus Kenneth Glass
TypeSynagogue architecture
General contractorJoseph Huntley & Son
Listed Building – Grade II
Official nameSunderland Synagogue
TypeListed building
Designated21 May 1999
Reference no.1387275

The building, in use at the time as a synagogue, was listed as a Grade II building in 1999.[1]



The forebears of the congregation date from the establishment of the Polish Synagogue in 1781 and the Sunderland Israelite Congregation, formed in 1821. The two congregations merged, together with several smaller congregations, in 1861 to form the Sunderland Hebrew Congregation and moved into the original Adath Yeshurun synagogue on Moor Street, Sunderland, in 1862.[2]

In 1928, the congregation built a new synagogue, on Ryhope Road, designed by architect Marcus Kenneth Glass, and constructed by Joseph Huntley & Son.[3] It is the last surviving synagogue to be designed by Glass.[4] The synagogue was listed as a Grade II historic structure in 1999.[5] It became Sunderland's main place of Jewish worship once the former Sunderland Beth Hamedresh, on the corner of Mowbray Road and The Oaks West, closed in 1984. The congregation ceased meeting in 2006.

The congregation had earlier sold the building to a Jewish charitable trust in 2000; and leased the building from the trust for a peppercorn rental.[2] In 2009, the trust offered the building for sale or lease.[6] Businessman George Fraser bought the former synagogue building in 2010.[7] Fraser intended to convert the building into twelve luxury apartments whilst retaining the exterior. Local Councillor Mel Spedding said that the planned conversion was considered inappropriate, and a planning application for it had not been received. Spedding stated that he would be happy to discuss the building's future with the owner.[8] As of May 2021 the building was unoccupied.[3]



Architectural historian Sharman Kadish described the synagogue's colourful design as a blend of Byzantine Revival and "cinematic art deco style."[5] The exterior is an Art Deco interpretation of Byzantine style, with an oversized, arched entrance, paired arched doorways, polychrome brickwork and basket capitals.[9] Kadish described the interior as "spanned by a deep barrel vault over the central aisle, which was originally painted to imitate a star-spangled sky. The gallery runs around three sides carried on slender iron columns with palmette capitals. The plasterwork Ark canopy is highly decorative, painted and gilded. It is classical in form but features decoration of Islamic and Byzantine origin, especially the cushion capitals to the columns and the chevron patterns on the shafts ..."[5]

See also



  1. ^ a b Historic England (21 May 1999). "Sunderland Synagogue (Grade II) (1387275)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 4 May 2024.
  2. ^ a b c d "The former Sunderland Hebrew Congregation". Jewish Communities and Records – UK. JewishGen and the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain. 22 November 2023. Retrieved 5 May 2024.
  3. ^ a b "See inside Sunderland Synagogue as we look into the history of the spectacular building".
  4. ^ "Sunderland Synagogue — The Twentieth Century Society". 21 May 2013. Retrieved 28 February 2015.
  5. ^ a b c Kadish, Sharman (2006). Jewish Heritage in England: An Architectural Guide. English Heritage. pp. 182–185.
  6. ^ O'Neill, Jane (8 June 2009). "Jewish History Up for Sale". Sunderland Echo.
  7. ^ "Sunderland's synagogue's starring role in Orthodox Jewish film". Sunderland Echo. 12 April 2013. Retrieved 28 February 2015.
  8. ^ "Swastikas in Sunderland shul as heritage row rumbles on". The Jewish Chronicle. 6 May 2013. Retrieved 28 February 2015.
  9. ^ "Sunderland Synagogue". C20 Society. 2007. Archived from the original on 5 December 2008.