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Umbra Sumus October 30, 2007

Posted by mmonla in Architecture.

The Jamme Masjid mosque on Brick Lane is an amazing example of a building’s dependance on its context. But more importantly, it illustrates the remarkable history of London’s East End as a gateway for successive waves of immigrants. First built as a protestant church by Huguenots refugees after being expelled from France [1743], it was later converted to a Methodist chapel by Irish immgrants [1819], a synagogue by the neighbourhood’s growing Jewish population [1898] and finally a mosque by the latest wave of Bengali immigrants [1976]. Yet unlike other examples of religious appropriations around the world, there was no violent cultural takeover, no grand architectural statements of annexation. The nondescript brick building simply remains the spiritual centre of a community that keeps changing.

A sundial, with the latin inscription ‘Umbra Sumus’ (we are shadows), is set above the entrance. Fitting, isn’t it?

Pictures of the mosque


Masjid 3 Masjid 4

Traces of the old Jewish community

Jewish 1 Jewish 2 Jewish 3

Traces of the current Bengali community

Bengal 2 Bengal 1



1. achau - November 1, 2007

its varied history sorta reminds me of the hagia sophia in turkey…

2. Saheed - March 7, 2008

Thanks for the very useful and insightful info.

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