First places of devotion

Amongst Britain’s diverse population are adherents of all of the world’s major faiths. Religious devotion often requires a place of worship: churches, mosques, temples, synagogues and gurdwaras. A reference to the first purpose built mosque in the UK made me wonder when each of these religious buildings were first erected in Britain.

Michael Portillo’s Great British Railway Journeys is now into its fourth series on BBC Two. It continues to provide a rich harvest of facts and blog ideas to be reaped from Portillo’s deliciously awkward interviews. This week I saw him journey through Woking and visit the UK’s first purpose-built mosque – the Shah Jahan mosque. It made me wonder where other firsts might be for the major faiths followed in Britain.

Shah Jahan Mosque, Woking - the UK's first purpose built mosque - By RHaworth (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

With good timing, the Office for National Statistics had released a first cut of the 2011 census data, providing an overview of the demographic composition of the nation. The most common religions followed were (in order of number of adherents) Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism and Buddhism.

Continue reading “First places of devotion”