The former

Great Synagogue

Dukes Place, City of London, London EC3




Page created: 17 March 2003
Latest revision or update: 31 January 2018

Former plaque on corner of Dukes Place and St. James's Passage
marking the site of the Great Synagogue
David Shulman 2007

Congregation Data

Formal Name:

The Great Synagogue

Other Names:

Dukes Place Synagogue

Adler Street Synagogue (after move from Dukes Place)

Principal Address:

Dukes Place(i) (formerly Dukes Street), London EC3 (from 1690, rebuilt 1722, 1766 and 1790).

The initial address of the congregation is sometimes given as Broad Court (later called Duke's Place Court), Mitre Square. Mitre Square is tucked behind Dukes Place and would not appear to be an earlier location of the synagogue, as some claim, but an alternative name for the Dukes Place location where the synagogue was actually built.(ii)

The synagogue, which was set back on the western side of Dukes Place, was destroyed in a German Air raid on 11 May 1942. In 1943, a temporary structure was erected on site and used until 26 October 1958.

Last Address:

Adler Street(iii), London E1. A room at Adler Street was used by the few remaining congregants of the Great Synagogue after 26 October 1958. (However, the marriage register for "Adler Street Synagogue" includes entries from 1950.)

Current Status:

Closed - 10 April 1977

Date Formed:

Founded in approximately 1690, primarily through the efforts of Benjamin Levy.

In 1722, the synagogue was rebuit, the cost of which was to a large extent covered by Moses Hart, brother of the then rabbi, Aaron Hart.(iv)


Ashkenazi Orthodox - The earliest Ashkenazi synagogue following the Resettlement.


One of the original five synagogues that formed the United Synagogue in 1870, of which it remained a constituent member.


Prior to 1870, there were the following branches or dependencies:

Membership Data:

In 1845 there were approximately 250 ba'alai batim and 480 seatholders (Chief Rabbi's Questionnaire)

Number of male seat-holders since 1870(v):























Early Ministers (to 1756)(vi):

Rabbi Judah Leib (ben Ephraim) Anschel Cohen - First Rabbi of the Congregation - 1690s.(vii)

Rabbi Aaron ben Moses (the "Scribe") - temporary Rabbi of Congregation (from Dublin)(viii) - early 1700s.

Rabbi Aaron Hart - 1705-1756 - considered the first Chief Rabbi.

See also List of Chief Rabbis

Local Government Districts:

for Dukes Place:

Dukes Place is in the Aldgate Ward of the City of London, now within the administrative area of Greater London. Until the abolition in 1908 of civil parishes in the City, it was in the parish of St. James Dukes Place

for Adler (Union) Street:

Adler Street is in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and was previously (until 1965) in the Metropolitan Borough of Stepney.(ix)

Cemetery Information:

Until 1697, Ashkanazi burials took place at the Sepahardi Mile End Velho (Old) Cemetery, acquired by the Sephardi community in 1657.

In 1697, the Great Synagogue, through its principal founder, Benjamin Levy, purchased a 999 year lease of land in Alderney Road, Mile End, for use as a cemetery, being the first Ashkanazi cemetery in England since the expulsion of the Jews in 1290.

For details of this and other cemeteries used by the Congregation, see Cemeteries of the United Synagogue.

Notes & Sources ( returns to text above)

  • (i) Dukes Place, previously known as Dukes Street, is a short street (250 feet long) leading from Aldgate into Bevis Marks, in the City of London, running parallel with Houndsditch.

  • (ii) History of the Great Synagogue by Cecil Roth, Chapter II, Fifth paragraph.

  • (iii) Adler Street, formerly known as Union Street, was renamed after the former Chief Rabbi, Hermann Adler (1839-1911). It runs south, some 700 feet from Whitechapel High Road to Commercial Road, about 1,000 east of Gardiners Corner.

  • (iv) Jewish Encyclopedia article on Moses Hart.

  • (v) The United Synagogue 1870-1970 by Aubrey Newman, 1977, pages 216/7.

  • (vi) For biographical information on Rabbis of the Congregation who were also British Chief Rabbis, see the List of Chief Rabbis on the United Synagogue home page.

  • (vii) History of the Great Synagogue by Cecil Roth, 1950, Chapter III, final paragraph; and British Chief Rabbis 1664-2006 by Derek Taylor, 2007, pp.70, 100/1.

  • (viii) History of the Great Synagogue by Cecil Roth, 1950, Chapter III, final paragraph.

  • (ix) The London Borough of Tower Hamlets, which covers much of the traditional London East End, was created on 1 April 1965 upon the merger of the former Metropolitan Boroughs of Stepney, Bethnal Green and Poplar. These had been within the (then abolished) County of London.


Search the All-UK Database

The records in the database specifically associated with the Great Synagogue include:

Seatholders Lists

1885 (476 records);
1899 (491 records);
1910 (480 records);
1933 (663 records).

For a list of other London records in the Database that may also include records associated with this congregation, click here.


Bibliography, On-line Articles and Other Material
relating to this Congregation


  • History of the Great Synagogue by Cecil Roth, 1950. Available on JCR-UK as part of the Susser Archive.

  • Congregation Rules & Customs - extracts.

  • Chief Rabbi's Questionnaire of 1845:

  • Selected Bibliography

    • Chief Rabbis of England by H. Adler, 1887.

    • "Chazanim of the Great Synagogue, London" by H. Mayerowitsch, Jewish Historical Society of England Miscellanies IV 1942.

    • "Membership of the Great Synagogue, London, to 1791" by Cecil Roth, Jewish Historical Society of England Miscellanies VI 1962.

    • History of the Great Synagogue by Cecil Roth (part of the Susser Archive).

    • The Great Synagogue, London 1690-1940 by Cecil Roth, 1950 (Edward Goldston).

    • The United Synagogue 1870-1970 by Aubrey Newman, 1977 (United Synagogue).

    • The Synagogues of Europe. by C. H. Krinsky, 1985 (The M.I.T. Press, Cambridge MA). p. 415-417.

    • The Synagogues of London by Paul Lindsay, 1993 (Valentine Mitchell, London) pp. 41-45.

    • Alderney Road Jewish Cemetery London E1 1697-1853 by Bernard Susser, 1997 (United Synagogue Publications).

    • The Lost Synagogues of London. Peter Renton, 2000 (Tymsder Publishing) pp. 30-38.

    • British Chief Rabbis 1664-2006 by Derek Taylor, 2007 (Vallentine Mitchell).

    • other City sources

    • other London sources

    on Third Party website

  • Jewish Encyclopedia c. 1906, articles on:


Congregational Records

Registration Districts (BMD):
  • for Dukes Place:

    London City (since 1 July 1837) - Link to Register Office website (covers both Islington & City of London)

  • for Adler (Union) Street:

    Tower Hamlets - Link to Register Office website

    The former Registration District was Stepney, from relocation of Congregation to Adler Street until 1 January 1983, but registers would now be held by current Register Office.

Marriage Registers:

  • Three Marriage Registers for Adler Street Synagogue (first entry 3 September 1950; last entry 23 September 1973) deposited with Tower Hamlets Register Office (ref: s49)..

Burial Registers:

List of United Synagogue Congregations

Street Directory of Synagogues in East End and City of London

List of Synagogues destroyed by German air raids during World War II

Jewish Congregations in the City of London and London East End

Other Jewish Congregations in Greater London

Greater London home page



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