Listed status gives mosques a place in English heritage

Elias Hubbard
March 13, 2018

British mosques have been overlooked in conservation efforts, the heritage body Historic England said, as it announced that two mosques would be granted official status as listed buildings for the first time in 30 years.

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.

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

Heritage minister Michael Ellis said: 'We are not only preserving important places of worship, but also celebrating the rich heritage of Muslim communities in England'.

The country's first purpose-built mosque opened in Woking, a town southwest of London, in 1889.

Mosques in the United Kingdom have been ignored in heritage efforts, Historic England has said as it announces new listings.

He added: "The mosque is already spreading the true message of peace and playing a very vital role in the community".

After spending much of his childhood in Istanbul, where he studied at madrasa schools attached to the city's mosques, he moved to England where he established an Oriental Institute in Woking in the early 1880s. It was partly funded by the female ruler of the Indian princely sate of Bhopal, the Sultan Shah Jahan Begum.

The mosque is given the second highest listing category of grade II*. It is unclear whether Dr Leitner himself converted to Islam, but he was an active sympathiser and supporter.

Its new status means it is the only Grade I listed mosque in the England and gives it the same standing as buildings such as Buckingham Palace and Brighton Pavilion.

The London Central Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre in Regent's Park, central London, was listed as a Grade II building by the government's culture department.

Less than 20 per cent of Britain's 1,500 mosques were goal built, according to Historic England, and the announcement comes amid concerns that non-Christian places of worship were not receiving enough attention by conservation experts.

'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'. It is the headquarters of the Ahmadiyya community and was London's first purpose-built place of worship when it opened in 1926.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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