Memorial Hall at the Shah Jahan Mosque complex in Woking, probably built 1888-1889.
Reasons for Designation
The Salar Jung Memorial Hall, probably built 1888-1889 to the designs of William Isaac Chambers possibly for Dr Gottlieb Wilhelm Leitner, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* although extended to the rear and internally altered, the façade in simple Murghal style has distinctive detailing to the main door and window openings, the first floor balcony and decorative panelling, providing an architectural cohesion with the Shah Jahan Mosque.
* the building where Kamal-ud-Din established the publication, Muslim India in 1913, which became the Islamic Review in 1921, and for 55 years was the main Islamic journal in the western world, edited by Marmaduke Pickthall and others.
* with the Shah Jahan Mosque, listed at Grade I and its entrance gate piers, listed at Grade II.
The history of the Shah Jahan Mosque, thought to be the first purpose-built mosque in northern Europe and Britain, is entwined with the growth of British Islam in the late C19 and early C20. The mosque was commissioned by Dr Gottlieb Wilhelm Leitner (1840-1899), an Hungarian Jewish linguist, who spent most of his working life in British India. His ambition was to establish an educational Oriental Institute to enhance the study of culture and history of India and the Islamic world. In 1880 Leitner purchased the site of the Royal Dramatic College in Woking, a building of 1865 by TR Smith set in large grounds, in which he established his Oriental Institute where scholars came to stay and study. The house is clearly shown on the Ordnance Survey map of 1896, further east of the current Woking mosque complex, on the site of the existing retail park, and was standing at least until 1914. Leitner approached the Sultan Shah Jahan Begum, the female ruler of the Indian princely state of Bhopal, to fund the construction of a mosque west of the house, within its grounds. She provided £5,000 and construction started in 1888; the mosque was completed in the autumn of 1889. In addition to the mosque, the Sir Salar Jung Memorial Hall (named after the then Prime Minister of Hyderabad state) was built to the east to accommodate the Imam and hold community functions and meetings. Interestingly, neither the mosque or memorial hall is shown on historic Ordnance Survey maps until 1914.
The mosque was designed by William Isaac Chambers, an English architect based in Woking in the mid-1880s, known for his expressive architectural style, easily adapted to the mosque’s popular ‘Orientalist’ style of the late C19. Chambers probably designed the memorial hall at approximately the same time, but this has not been substantiated. Leitner died in 1899 (his tomb at the nearby Brookwood Cemetery is listed at Grade II, National Heritage List for England 1391041), and the mosque quickly fell into disuse. It was revived and restored by Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din (1870-1932), an Indian lawyer who visited the site in 1913 and found the mosque locked, unused for many years. Kamal-ud-Din approached Sir Mirza Abbas Ali Baig, the Muslim advisory member of the Council of the Secretary of State for India, and the two purchased the mosque and memorial hall from Leitner’s estate. The Woking Muslim Trust was set up and Kamal-ud-Din appointed to run the mosque, which is said to have become the focus of Islam in Britain in the early to mid-C20. Kamal-ud-Din established a publication issued from the Woking mosque called Muslim India in 1913, becoming the Islamic Review and Muslim India in 1914, shortened to Islamic Review in 1921; for 55 years it was the main Islamic journal in the western world and was highly influential. A reproduction of the first page of the first volume is found in Salamat (2008, p31); articles discussing the Bible and Quran and the ethics of Islam were included. In 1925, Kamal-ud-Din established a Muslim Literary Trust at the mosque with the intention of publishing non-sectarian Islamic texts in a separate mission to the mosque (Salamat, 2008, p33). It is understood that these journals were produced at the Salar Jung Memorial Hall.
The memorial hall was extended in 1964, and, following a change in religious emphasis and the establishment of the Woking Mosque Trust, the hall was further remodelled. In the 1990s the mosque and memorial hall were restored having become neglected; the interior of the hall was comprehensively reordered and the decorative panels to the exterior may have been replaced. The facilities at the mosque complex were expanded from 1994 by the conversion of a former warehouse building of the 1950s on the north boundary of the site, to provide additional prayer and education space.
Salar Jung Memorial Hall, probably built around 1888-1889 to the designs of William Isaac Chambers for Dr Gottlieb Wilhelm Leitner as part of the development of the mosque complex.
MATERIALS: red brick laid in Flemish bond with stucco dressings, rendered modern extensions to the rear and concrete tile roof coverings.
PLAN: the earliest form is roughly square with projecting wings to the principal north elevation. The earliest interior plan is largely obscured due to remodelling, but had a central hall with formal rooms used as offices and meeting rooms to the left and right. Accommodation for the Imam is at the first floor. It is understood that there are self-contained flats in the modern rear extensions.
EXTERIOR: the north elevation faces a formal garden, and has the greatest embellishment in a simple Murghal style, with ogee-shaped windows to the ground floor and dome-profiled windows to the first, all with stucco dressings to the openings. At the centre is a three window-bay range, beneath a shallow hipped roof with concrete tiles, flanked by projecting, flat-roofed wings. At the centre of the ground floor is the main entrance and the original door with foiled, arched upper panel (and renewed ironmongery), above which is a foiled, arched head with the lettering ‘Sir Salar Jung Memorial House’. On either side are two ogee-arched, one-over-one sash windows with horns. Above the stucco soldier course, level with the springing of the arches, is a painted panel with semi-circular motifs. Above at the first floor is a narrow balcony with a metal balustrade pierced with geometric shapes. There are three dome-profile arched, one-over-one sash windows beneath a moulded, stucco cornice at the base of the parapet. Each wing has a pair of ogee-arched, one-over-two sash windows at the ground floor and a moulded soldier course, above which is a pair of one-over-one sash windows with wide decorative arch above. A panel between the window cill and soldier course, and the tympanum above the window, have painted semi-circular details. The side elevations have similar window arrangement but the elevations are much plainer with stucco detailing limited to the window heads.
INTERIOR: greatly remodelled, the position of the original stairs has been lost and there are no surviving fixtures, fittings, doors and joinery. The first floor and rear extensions were not inspected.