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Protected heritage status given to mosques to celebrate “rich heritage of Muslim communities in England”

Protected heritage status given to mosques to celebrate “rich heritage of Muslim communities in England”

Categories: Latest News

Thursday March 15 2018

Mosques across the country have had their conservation status elevated by Historic England – a public body that is dedicated to preserving England’s architectural history and culture – in a move that is being dubbed a celebration of “British Islamic heritage”.

One mosque which has had its listing upgraded is the Shah Jahan Mosque in Woking becoming the only Grade I listed mosque in the country. The status gives the building the same conservation standing as Blackpool Tower and Buckingham Palace.

The Shah Jahan Mosque was Britain’s first purpose-built mosque dating back to the 19th Century and was commissioned by Dr Gottlieb Wilhelm Leitner, a Hungarian-Jewish linguist who converted to Islam. It was also partly funded by Sultan Shah Jahan Begum, a Muslim female ruler of the Indian princely state of Bhopal.

The mosque was designed by Mr William Isaac Chambers, an English architect.

The London Central Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre in Regent’s Park is another mosque which has its listing upgraded. The mosque now has Grade II status.

The London Central Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre was built in 1977 as a move to establish a central mosque in London. The land was donated by King George VI in return for land in Cairo donated by King Farouk of Egypt and Sudan on which to build an Anglican Cathedral.

Another mosque upgraded include the Abdullah Quilliam Mosque in Liverpool which has been upgraded to Grade II.

One other mosque is the Howard Street Mosque in Bradford which was already listed at Grade II however the entry has been updated to reflect its importance as a “house mosque”.

Heritage Minister, Mr Michael Ellis, said: “Our historic buildings tell the story of Britain’s past and the people, places, and events that shaped them. By listing these beautiful mosques, we are not only preserving important places of worship, but also celebrating the rich heritage of Muslim communities in England”.

Historic England’s Chief Executive, Mr Duncan Wilson, said: “I’m proud to be shining a light on these exceptional places of worship established by Muslim communities in England. 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”.

Ms Linda Monckton, Historic England’s Head of Communities Research, added that the organisation actively recognises the fact that the contribution of mosques to British architectural culture has been underappreciated.

Ms Monckton said: “the mainstream narratives of architecture and architectural history haven’t taken into account the contribution of mosques and temples, largely because nobody knows what’s there and where it is, so it’s kind of been invisible”.

She added that Historic England had made a “really decisive shift” towards focussing on religious buildings from other faiths instead of solely focussing on churches.

In light of this, initiatives such as ‘Visit My Mosque’ are important for improving public knowledge and it may well be that such initiatives will lead to the discovery of further mosques that could be awarded upgraded conservation status.

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