(JHE) — Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales and heir to the British throne, has paid a visit to the former synagogue in Merthyr Tydfil in Wales, where he learned of the project of the Foundation for Jewish Heritage (FJH) to restore the Grade II building and create there a Welsh Jewish Heritage Center.
Charles, wearing a mask, on Friday viewed the neo-Gothic exterior of the synagogue building and toured the interior.
The Prince was met at the synagogue by the FJH’s Chair Dame Helen Hyde, Founder and Chief Executive Michael Mail, Trustees the Jim Murphy and Stephen Goldman, and Conservation Architect Ashley Davies.
They described the history of Jews in Wales, explained the restoration project, and showed Charles photographs of the building’s interior when it served as a synagogue as well as artist impressions of what it will look like once transformed into the proposed Heritage Center.
The prince “was clearly very interested in the project and our future plans for the synagogue,” Mail said in a news release.
Such high-profile interest can be a key to boosting recognition of Jewish heritage in general and the implementation of Jewish heritage projects.
Dating from 1872, the Merthyr Tydfil synagogue is the oldest purpose-built synagogue still standing in Wales and is considered architecturally one of the most important synagogues in the UK. It was sold in 1983 when the Jewish community disbanded. It was then used as a community center and a gym, but has been standing empty and in derelict condition since 2006.
The Foundation purchased the synagogue building in 2019 and received major funding for urgent preservation work last year. Half of the funding came from the CADW, the Welsh government’s historic environment service.
In a news release, the FJH said it was “in regular contact with The Prince’s Foundation which is assisting the project.”
“The Foundation has offered its advice and assistance to the project,” Mail told JHE.
Dame Helen Hyde said it had been “a great honour to welcome His Royal Highness to the former synagogue of Merthyr Tydfil. The synagogue represents a flagship project for the Foundation and we have an exciting vision for the future of the building which we were thrilled to share with The Prince.”
We have been following the Merthyr Tydfil project.