Richmond & South West London

History

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There are also an increasing number of definitely or probable Jewish names listed as Richmond residents in 1876. The names include, Cardoza, Hart, Samuel, Samuels, Silk and Silva.

Despite this apparent growth of the community a synagogue was only established in 1916. The founding of the synagogue was apparently opposed by the United Synagogue who did not want to see this new synagogue outside London.

That a synagogue was founded owed much to Arthur Howitt, a leading local figure, and leader of the Jewish community as well as proprietor of the Castle Hotel. Councillor Arthur Howitt (elected 1922) became the first Jewish mayor of Richmond. He appears to have been a man of considerable energy as he belonged to a vast number of clubs, societies, and sat on a variety of committees. He was highly active in philanthropic work which was focused especially on the welfare of children and education. Additionally he had an interest in hospitals as well as more general social work.

There is little doubt that he was something of a local character as well. When he was elected mayor, he was a widower, thus he decided to appoint his 11 years old daughter, Bettie, as honourary mayoress, under the watchful chaperoning of a Mrs. Robinson, the previous mayoress!

Another significant Jewish figure was Hyman Appleby Leon, who had fallen in love with Richmond while passing by on top of the proverbial omnibus and set up a ladies fashion shop at 7 Hill Street. Leon in his turn became councillor and later three times mayor of Richmond. Leon was responsible for the acquisition of new premises (a former chapel in Sheen road) to replace the original synagogue which by that time had become too small

In buying this premises Councillor Leon had made a shrewd investment for the future. In the modern day this prime town centre site was acquired for a new Waitrose supermarket and car park - recently the Waitrose has also installed a kosher section in the supermarket; thus one can now shop for kosher food on the site of the former synagogue! The proceeds from the takeover of the site enabled the present purpose built synagogue to be completed at Lichfield Gardens in 1986. In the modern day the Richmond community is small but well established (reflected in the demand for a kosher section in the supermarket), drawing its members from a variety of professions, in what is now a well heeled London suburb. The town is particularly popular with young well-to-do professional couples.

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