01 March 2023

Gun Street Synagogue:
forgotten in the street
changes in Spitalfields

Gun Street, looking towards Artillery Lane … the Warsaw Synagogue or Gun Street Synagogue was at 37A Gun Street (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Patrick Comerford

During my recent walks around the East End, I visited a number of synagogues and former synagogues, and plan to write about them in the coming days and weeks.

In my blog postings in recent days, I have written about the former Poltava Synagogue on Heneage Streetthe, and the former Artillery Lane Synagogue, now Dome House at 48-50 Artillery Lane, near Liverpool Street Station.

The Warsaw Synagogue or Gun Street Synagogue, was at 37A Gun Street, off Brushfield Street, in Spitalfields.

Gun Street was within the historic Liberty of the Old Artillery Ground, and from 1856 to 1900, the Liberty of the Old Artillery Ground was part of the Whitechapel District. Later it was part the Borough of Stepney, and since 1965 it has been absorbed into Tower Hamlets.

The old and the new seen in one building on the corner of Gun Street and Artillery Lane (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Gun Street was originally 600 ft long, running north-south from just south of Spital Square to Artillery Street, which is now part of Artillery Lane, and parallel with both Steward Street, to the west, and Crispin Street, to the east.

Gun Street Synagogue was founded at 37A Gun Street in 1895. The lease of 37A Gun Street ran from 25 March 1895 and was dated 31 July 1895.

The synagogue was also known as the Warsaw Congregation and Benevolent Society, and the New Warsaw Synagogue, and had a membership of 76-84. It closed in the 1920s.

Today only the southern 200 ft of Gun Street remain: the section south of Brushfield Street; the northern section was redeveloped and is now part of Spitalfields Market.

Gun Street Synagogue should not be confused with the story of another neighbouring synagogue dating back to 1792, which began as the Gun Yard Polish Synagogue or the Gun Square Polish Synagogue in Gun Square, off Hounsditch.

It was one of the three minor congregations established in London in the 18th century. The other two were the Rosemary Lane Congregation and the Cutler Street Polish Synagogue.

That congregation relocated from Gun Yard or Gun Square, sometime before 1870, initially to Mansell Street, and then to become the Scarborough Street Synagogue, which closed in the 1920s.

Today only the southern section of Gun Street remains (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

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