West London Synagogue of British Jews

Upper Berkeley Street, London W1



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The West London Synagogue, Upper Berkeley Street (May 2008)
Reproduced with the kind permission of Leslie Bailey

© 2008 Leslie Bailey

WLS logo

Congregation Data

Official Name:

West London Synagogue of British Jews

Other Names:

The Synagogue is also sometimes referred to as:

  The West London Synagogue

  The West London Reform Synagogue

  The Berkeley Square Synagogue

Current Address:

The synagogue, at 34 Upper Berkeley Street, London W1H 5QE, was opened in 1870.
It was designed by architects Barrow Emanuel and Henry D. Davis(ii) and consecrated on 22 September 1870.
The synagogue is a Grade II Listed Building (number 1247701), designated on 7 September 1989. View description on Historic England website.

Synagogue offices at 33 Seymour Place, London W1H 5AU (building opened 27 May 1934)

Previous Addresses:

The following are the congregation's earlier addresses, both of which synagogues were designed by the architect David Mocatta:(iii)

50 Margaret Street, Cavendish Square, London W1 (1849 to 1870); and

Burton Street,(iv) St. Pancras, London WC1 (1842 to 1849).

Current Status:


Date Founded:

15 April 1840 - Resolution to establish congregation

1841 - Establishment of congregation

27 January 1842 - First Synagogue consecrated (Burton Street)


Reform - the first reform synagogue in the United Kingdom


A constituent, and the premier synagogue, of the Movement for Reform Judaism (formerly the Reform Synagogues of Great Britain), and one of the six founding members of the organisation (then known as the Associated British Synagogues) in 1942. In February 2020, the congregation took the extraordinary step of temporarily suspending its membership of the Movement for Reform Judaism.(vi)



Ministers & Officers:


Membership Data:


1965 -  approx. 2,500 families(xi)

2006 -  approx. 3,500 members(xii)

National Reports & Surveys(xiii)

1977 - 1,725 male (or household) members and 373 female members

1983 - 1,617 male (or household) members and 396 female members

1990 - 2,445 members (comprising 2,022 households and 423 individual male)

1996 - 2,329 members (comprising 1,446 households, 305 individual male and 578 individual female members)

2010 & 2016 - listed as having 1,500 - 1,900 members (by household), and accordingly one of the three (in 2010) or two (in 2016) largest synagogues (in terms of membership) in the UK.

Early Affiliated Congregation:

In or about the 1880s or 1890s, a temporary synagogue, affiliated to WLS, was established in Brixton, London, but had only a brief existence.(xiv)

Legal & Charitable Status:

The congregation is now a registered company, The West London Synagogue of British Jews (company no. 08578248), a private company limited by guarantee, incorporated on 20 June 2013 (to which the assets and liabilities of the hitherto registered unincorporated charity were transferred on 10 February 2014).(xvii)

It is also a registered charity (no. 1155821), first registered on 18 April 1963.(xviii)

The governing documents are the Company's Memorandum & Articles Association.

Local Government District:

All of the above addresses, apart from Burton Street,(xix) are now in the City of Westminster and were (from 1900 to 1965) in the former Metropolitan Borough of St Marylebone. Prior to 1900, St Marylebone was a civil parish in the former County of Middlesex.(xx)

Cemetery Information:

The Congregation has the following cemeteries:

  • West London Reform Cemetery (Balls Pond Road Cemetery), Kingsbury Road (disused), Balls Pond Road, London N1 4AW. In use by the Congregation from 1843 to 1951. The cemetery is a Grade II Listed Building, listed on 6 November 2020 (number 1465187). See Historic England Listing & Description. (See also Jewish Heritage Sites in the London Borough of Islington.)

  • Hoop Lane Cemetery West (active), Hoop Lane, Golders Green, London NW11.The Hoop Lane cemetery was acquired in 1894 by the West London Synagogue and in 1894, the eastern (smaller) section of which was sold in 1896 to the Spanish and Portuguese Jews' Congregation. The cemetery is Grade II Listed (Park and Garden), listed on 11 December 2020 (number 1465310). See Historic England Listing & Description.

  • Edgwarebury Cemetery (active), Edgwarebury Lane, Edgware HA8 8QP. This cemetery, opened in 1973, is also shared by the Congregation, various other non-orthodox Jewish congregations as well as the Spanish and Portuguese Jews' Congregation.

For additional information, see London Cemeteries of the Movement for Reform Judaism.

Notes & Sources ( returns to text above)

  • (i) Reserved.

  • (ii) Carol Herselle Krinsky - Synagogues of Europe - Architecture, History, Meaning, 1996, Appendix I, p. 430 and and Jewish Heritage in Britain and Ireland, by S. Kadish, (2015) p.48. To view a description of the Jewish architectural works by B. Emanuel and H.D. Davis, hold your cursor over their names.

  • (iii) Carol Herselle Krinsky - Synagogues of Europe - Architecture, History, Meaning, 1996, Appendix I, p. 430. To view a description of the Jewish architectural works by D. Mocatta, hold your cursor over his name.

  • (iv) Several sources, including Carol Herselle Krinsky - Synagogues of Europe - Architecture, History, Meaning, 1996, Appendix I, p. 430, give this address as Bruton Street. However, as the congregation's own website refers to Burton Street, we have, pending futher information, assumed this to be the correct address.

  • (v) Reserved.

  • (vi) The Jewish Chronicle report 13 February 2020.

  • (vii) to (x) Reserved.

  • (xi) The Jewish Year Book 1966.

  • (xii) Congregation's website.

  • (xiii) Reports on synagogue membership in the United Kingdom, published by or on behalf of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and which can be viewed on the website of the Institute of Jewish Policy Research. Click HERE for links to the various reports.

  • (xiv) Mentioned in Jewish Year Books from 1901/02, in which it states that the congregation had been established "some years ago".

  • (xv) and (xvi) Reserved.

  • (xvii) Companies House website, accessed 18 September 2023 and annual reports of the congregation filed with Charities Commissioners, (see below).

  • (xviii) Charities Commissioners website accessed 18 September 2018.

  • (xix) Burton Street is now in the London Borough of Camden. During the 1840s, it was in the former Civil Parish of St Pancras, which was then within the former County of Middlesex. 

  • (xx) The City of Westminster is an Inner London Borough within the Greater London administrative area and was created on 1 April 1965 upon the merger of the former City of Westminster (a Metropolitan Borough) with the Metropolitan Boroughs of St Marylebone and Paddington.The metropolitan boroughs were created in 1900 and had been within the former County of London (established in 1899, abolished 1965). Until 1899, St Marylebone, a civil parish, had been part of the former county of Middlesex.


Search the All-UK Database

The records in the database specifically associated with the West London Synagogue include:

  • Births
    WLS Birth Register 1, 1844 - 1905 (859 records).

  • Marriages
    1842 - April 1981 (4,933 records) - (Please note - to comply with UK Data Protection records 1930-1959 contain limited data and thereafter minimum data).

  • Burial
    Balls Pond Road Cemetery, 1843 - 1941 (900 records);
    Edgwarebury Lane Cemetery, 1976 - 2006 (1,625 records);
    Hoop Lane Cemetery, 1900 - 2007 (7,334 records);
    Golders Green Crematorium, 1905 - 2006 (4,443 records of WLS officiated cremations & interments of cremated remains);
    Miscellaneous, 1905 - 2005 (389 records of burials, WLS officiated cremations & interments of cremated remains).

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


on Third Party websites

  • Annual Reports filed with the Charities Commission (pdf):


 Congregational Records

Registration District (BMD):

  • Westminster (since 1 January 1978)- Register Office website

  • Previous Registration Districts:
       St Marylebone - from 1 January 1902 until 1 January 1978;
       Marylebone - from 1856* until 1 January 1902
    (*It was not until 1856, when the Congregation received special Parliamentary sanction, that marriages conducted by the Congregation could be registered.)

       (All records would now be held by current office.)

  • Marriage Certification Group: West London Synagogue

Marriage Registers:

Marriage registers, other than register currently in use, deposited with the Register Office. First entry - 10 June 1857

List of Reform Judaism Congregations

Jewish Congregations in the London Borough of the City of Westminster

Jewish Congregations in Greater London (other than East End)

Greater London home page

Page created: 2003
Data significantly expanded and notes added: 18 July 2018
Page most recently amended: 6 May 2024

Research and current formating by David Shulman

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