Britain's first purpose-built mosque given highest conservation status

The London Central Mosque designed by Sir Frederick Gibberd will be listed

The London Central Mosque designed by Sir Frederick Gibberd will be listed

A mosque has been granted the highest protected building status for the first time after a reappraisal of the historic importance of Britain's Muslim places of worship. The Fazl Mosque, Southfields, which was the second purpose-built mosque in Britain, will also be listed at Grade II level by the department for culture, media and sport.

The Shah Jahan mosque, which became Britain's first purpose-built mosque when it opened in 1889 in Woking, Surrey, has been elevated to Grade I listed status - putting it on a par with buildings such as the Brighton Pavilion and Buckingham Palace. "Through listing we are celebrating some of our most significant examples of Islamic heritage, from the stunning Shah Jahan [mosque] in Woking to the landmark London Central Mosque".

Imam Hafiz Hashmi, Head Imam at the Shah Jahan Mosque, told The National that the upgrade is "excellent news for us, but also very good news for the whole Muslim community in the UK".

He added: "The mosque is already spreading the true message of peace and playing a very vital role in the community".

The mosque was commissioned by Dr Gottlieb Leitner, a Hungarian scholar who was born to Jewish parents.

After spending much of his childhood in Istanbul, where he studied at madrassah schools attached to the city's mosques, he moved to England where he established an Oriental Institute in Woking in the early 1880s.

The London Central Mosque near Regent's Park, completed in 1978, will receive a Grade II* listing, the second highest level, and the Fazl Mosque in south London, an Ahmadi mosque completed in 1926, will receive Grade II status.

Both were listed as Grade II buildings, a status that is awarded to just 5.8 per cent of approximately 500,000 listed buildings in England, marking them out as particularly important sites and giving them greater protection.

Britain has some 1,500 mosques and the diverse nature of the Muslim community results in a wide variety of buildings - from terraced houses to purpose-built structures - being used to worship.

The Central Mosque in Regent's Park.

Mosques in the United Kingdom have been ignored in heritage efforts, Historic England has said as it announces new listings.