London Museum of Immigration and Diversity

The London Museum of Immigration and Diversity is in an old 19th century synagogue near Shoreditch. It allows you a rare insight into how immigrants from all over the world arrived in London and faced the same problems for centuries: xenophobia, initial hardship and the need to fit into society.

You can read letters from immigrants to their families, see their belongings and find out about the history of the Spitalfields district. It is a very similar idea to the Tenement Museum in New York, although not as well financed.

19 Princelet Street

The building used to be a school for French immigrants. Later, in 1869, the Polish-Jewish Friendly Society began leasing it. The Jewish community built a fairly big synagogue in the courtyard in 1870 which you can see in its original, although in a somewhat battered form.

You can read the names of the original donors who raised money to build the synagogue and those who visited the place, such as the Rothschild family in the 19th century.

Anti Fascism and Open Days

The building gave place to the anti-fascist movement from 1936. It was here that local Jews formed an underground movement to fight against rising anti-semitism in London.

Unfortunately, the building is in such bad shape the museum is only open five weekends a year. So if you want a rare glimpse into the past of immigration in the UK contact the museum beforehand.

If you want to contribute to saving the building you can donate as much as you can. The charity currently runs the museum with the help of volunteers and it must raise £3 million pounds to save the building from collapse. Please do not use the donate button on this site — contact the charity directly!

Contact Details

The Spitalfields Centre
 19 Princelet Street, London E1 6QH
 registered charity 287279

Telephone: 020 7247 5352

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Originally published at Solaris Traveller.