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Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation is Liverpool's oldest surviving Jewish congregation. It established a synagogue in a small house in Turton Court in the city centre around 1780, before acquiring 133 Upper Frederick Street in 1789. That building was believed to have held between 50 and 70 worshippers and its garden was used as the Congregation's burial ground.

In 1806, the foundation stone was laid for the first purpose-built synagogue in Liverpool, in Seel Street, in the city centre. It was designed by Thomas Harrison of Chester and opened in 1808, seating 290 worshippers.​

By the 1810s, the congregation had gained a reputation for having particularly liberal views. As a consequence, after much passionate debate, the first English sermons in a British synagogue were delivered at Seel Street, with a pulpit finally installed in 1827.

In 1836, the congregation was the first in the country to appoint a regular preacher, Rev David M Isaacs, who would go on to be one of the most well-respected ministers in Anglo-Jewry.

The exterior of Seel Street synagogue, the home of LOHC 1808-1874

By 1838 some Congregants left and formed the Liverpool New Hebrew Congregation. Thereafter the remaining Congregation at Seel Street became known as the Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation (LOHC).

By the 1870s, the congregation had outgrown the Seel Street building and decided to build a new, bigger, more impressive synagogue, to reflect their wealth and status. A competition was held to appoint an architect, with the commission being awarded to William and George Audsley, a pair of Scottish Presbysterian brothers with no previous experience of building synagogues. In 1872, a plot of land on the east side of Princes Road was purchased from the Earl of Sefton and the foundation stone of the new synagogue laid. It was completed and consecrated at a ceremony led by Chief Rabbi Dr Nathan M Adler in September 1874. The new building seated 824 worshippers and was handed to the congregation by the building committee entirely free of debt.


The synagogue on Princes Road survived both World Wars with only minor damage, although the six decorative minarets had to be removed in 1960 as they were considered unsafe.

The exterior of Princes Road synagogue, the home of LOHC from 1874

(showing the minarets)

In May 1979, the synagogue suffered an arson attack and suffered terrible damage. The Torah scrolls were destroyed. Massive repairs to the beautiful internal decor were necessary. The choir gallery had to be rebuilt and new Ark doors were constructed by the Dorfman brothers. The original stencil patterns for the ceiling were used to make the repairs and, within a year, the synagogue was re-consecrated.

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