Sunday, 6 July 2014

Middle Street Synagogue, Looe Evening and Sunlit Minarets

"Middle Street Synagogue" :- I've stood in castles, I have walked through palaces and I have entered genuine medieval homes but I have never ever experienced such a feeling of travelling back in time as I experienced on the day I visited the famous Middle Street Synagogue in Brighton, England. This is no film set or mock up, this is the real thing and it looks and feels as though the crinolined ladies and top hatted gentlemen have only just left the building. It's pretty much how they left it, still resplendent with it's mixture of fine stained glass, shining brasses and sumptuous deep reds. As I was wandering around I couldn't help thinking of Jules Verne & H. G. Wells novels. This is what I'd imagined the interior of Captain Nemo's "Nautilus" to look like! But this isn't a thing of fiction or fancy, it is a real, historical place of worship with a rich and fascinating history and many don't even know it's there. From the street the building isn't that much to look at, rather plain and undertstated so it's not surprising that it takes your breath away as you enter. The building was consecrated in 1875 and it had meagre beginnings. However, over time various benfactors (mainly the Sassoon family) made generous donations to the Synagogue and it slowly transformed into the visual delight that you see here now. It comes as no surprse to hear that The Synagogue is yet another Grade II listed Brighton building with its interior being officially described as "an extremely sumptuous example of late 19th century craftsmanship". On the Middle Street Historic Synagogue website it says "Middle Street has the finest 19th century decorative interior of any building in Brighton with the sole exception of the Brighton Pavilion. Every year we welcome hundreds and hundreds of people who leave a little more enlightened and usually a little astonished at the hidden jewel of an interior they discovered behind those big mahogany doors." It's odd to leave the building and suddenly find yourself back in the street and firmly in the 21st Century again.

"Looe Evening" :- Sunlight floods across a sandy beach and casts long shadows at the sea. The sand is soft and rubbery under foot and it tries to suck the shoes off your feet if you sand still for too long. This is the beach at Looe, a small coastal town & fishing port in Cornwall, England. It's population isn't much over 5,000 and as much as it's still a fishing town (Looe is also the home of the Shark Angling Club of Great Britain) it's main business today is tourism. t's full of wonderful hotels, guest houses and holiday homes and the quaint town has many restaurants and pubs to choose from as well as shops that sell souvenirs, ice creams & buckets & spades!

"Sunlit Minarets" :- The jewel in Brighton's crown. A completely eccentric and out of place display of decadence with a serious link to various Royalty. This is Brighton's very famous Royal Pavilion. It started of life as a simple and very humble farmhouse overlooking the Steine but was, over time added to and built in three stages. The Pavilion that we recognise today was mainly the work of John Nash, a designer who extended and redesigned the palace between 1815 and 1822. It was a seaside retreat for George, Prince of Wales, who became the Prince Regent in 1811 and then King George IV in 1820. After George IV died (in 1830) King William IV also stayed in the Pavilion when visiting Brighton. Queen Victoria did stay there on a few occasions but famously loathed the palace and eventually chose Osborne House on the Isle of Wight as the summer home of the royal family.

All Photography Copyright © Justin Hill