Two London mosques given protected heritage status

Two London mosques have been given protected heritage status to recognise their historic, architectural and cultural importance.

Britain’s first purpose-built mosque, in Woking, Surrey, has also been given greater protection, with its listing upgraded to Grade I, and the first functioning mosque in the country, in Liverpool, now has Grade II* status.

Heritage Minister Michael Ellis said listing the mosques preserved important places of worship and celebrated the rich heritage of Muslim communities in England.

The London Central Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre in Regent’s Park, built as a centre point for Muslim worship in London and a landmark of the faith in Britain, is newly listed at Grade II*.

The first fund for the new mosque was set up in 1910, and the Government under Winston Churchill offered the site as its location in the 1940s in recognition of the importance of Islam in an increasingly multi-cultural society and in the then-Empire.

But construction of the building, which combined British modernism with historic Islamic forms and has a prayer hall which can hold several thousand worshippers, a golden dome and a 44m high minaret, did not start until 1970 and was completed seven years later.

The Fazl Mosque, Southfields, which was the first purpose-built mosque in London and only the second such building in Britain, has been given Grade II status.

It was constructed in 1925-26 with funds raised by the Ahmadiyya Community in India and supported by voluntary labour.

It is a fusion of Indian Mughal architectural forms and contemporary British trends, with the spherical dome on the buttressed square base resembling the 1923 twin towers at the Wembley Stadium, but does not have the Orientalist style of the earlier Woking mosque as it had become associated with theatres, piers and amusement arcades.

The Shah Jahan mosque in Woking, which dates back to 1889, has been upgraded from Grade II* to become the only Grade I listed mosque in the country.

Duncan Wilson, Historic England chief executive, said the mosques were “exceptional places of worship”.

Through listing we are celebrating some of our most significant examples of Islamic heritage from the stunning Shah Jahan in Woking, the first purpose-built mosque in the country, to the landmark London Central Mosque in Regent’s Park.

– Duncan Wilson, Historic England chief executive

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