London Central Mosque in Regents Park is one of the most famous places of worship in London. In celebration of Eid, we are looking at the history behind this fascinating building.
The initial efforts to construct a mosque in London began in the early 1900s with many advocates, including Lord Headley, a notable convert to Islam. The Islamic Cultural Centre which would later form part of the mosque complex was opened by King George VI. It was opened in 1944 during the Second World War in recognition of the efforts of the Muslim population of the British Empire who played a crucial role in fighting the Axis Powers. The Churchill War Cabinet allocated £100,000 for the acquisition of a site for a mosque and a prime 2.3-acre location was chosen in the heart of Regents Park.
However, despite the Islamic Cultural Centre opening during World War Two, it was many years until the mosque eventually opened its doors. This was due to multiple different designs for the mosque as well as significant difficulty getting the necessary building permits to construct such a structure. Eventually, a final design was chosen following an international competition where hundreds of applicants – both Muslim and non-Muslim – submitted their vest designs. The design which was eventually chosen was by English architect Frederick Gibberd. He designed the main mosque complex with two key elements. The first was the two prayer rooms which could accommodate 5,400 worshippers in total. The second was the three-storey wings which form a vital part of the complex including an extensive library, reading room, administration offices, a reading room, and – of course – the distinctive minaret.
The mosque was eventually completed in July 1977 after a £2m from King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud – the monarch of Saudi Arabia as well as a further donation by Sheikh Zayed the Emir of Abu Dhabi who was instrumental in the formation of the United Arab Emirates. The mosque is easily recognisable due to its distinctive golden dome, as well as the 140-foot-high minaret. The library contains 20,000 books, and the main prayer hall is facing Mecca and is decorated with traditional mosaics and a massive chandelier.
Here at Robert Irving Burns, we have significant experience in the Regents Park area and greatly admire this beautiful building. We wish Muslims a joyful Eid and hope readers enjoyed learning more about this fascinating place of worship.