December 2020 newsletter
Since our last newsletter in April, we have made good progress.
Of our £140,000 target, we have now raised £100,000 with over £50,000 having been raised since March. We have fully-funded the lessons that Hampshire County Council are preparing for their schools, together with the book that is being written by Rebecca Abrams. We are therefore in the final straight of our fundraising with the aim of unveiling the statue in the autumn of 2021.
In the last few months we have been fundraising hard, and have written to over 220 trusts in total. We have received some very generous donations, although Covid-19 has made fundraising more difficult, and are continuing to work hard.
We are very excited that Dame Jenny Abramsky DBE has kindly agreed to become a Patron of the Charity, alongside eminent historian Simon Sebag-Montefiore. Dame Jenny Abramsky has been Chair of the Royal Academy of Music since September 2014 and is also Chair of the Board of Governors of the Royal Ballet. From 2008 to 2014 she was Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund/National Heritage Memorial Fund, as well as Chair of the University of London, Board of Trustees. She was the BBC’s Director of Radio and of Music, and before that, as Director of Continuous News, she ran all the BBC’s 24 hour news services on TV, Radio and Online.
The trustees are developing a series of messages that will be the core of our educational work for adults and children, and which complement our aims. These messages are intended to be a concise representation of the key facts that we wish to promulgate:
Messages from history
- Jews were part of the English community from 1067 until 1290, having arrived after the Norman Conquest in 1066 nearly a thousand years ago. They contributed to the building of iconic places of worship such as Westminster Abbey and Lincoln Cathedral, and also other institutions, as well as to trade and culture.
- Licoricia (who died in 1277) was a leader in her community and one of a handful of Jews, including women, prominently involved in finance. The Jews were restricted in the jobs they could do. Other occupations included doctors, teachers, scribes, poets, vintners, metalworkers and tradesmen.
- Licoricia was highly educated, like many Jewish women of her time, enabling them to be successful in their own right.
- Jews were the property of the King, frequently persecuted by the Church, and taxed at will until they were too poor to be of any utility. As a result, those who would not convert to Christianity were forced out of the country by the Edict of Expulsion issued by King Edward I in 1290.
Lessons for today
- Jews of the Middle Ages are an early example of a religious minority in the UK, and their story highlights the danger of the majority limiting the freedom of the minority (“the tyranny of the majority”).
- As a minority, the Jews made an outsized contribution to England’s society and economy. Diversity of community creates cultural and commercial benefits.
- Many prejudices against the Jews originated in the Middle Ages, and shaped anti-semitism, which still exists today. Education is the key to the elimination of prejudice.
- Progress on religious and racial tolerance has been made in society – today the UK is a vibrant multi-faith, multi-ethnic and multi-racial society – but there is further work to be done.
- The education of women has provided them with opportunity. As a result, progress has been made by women in business and other areas of public life, but 800 years after Licoricia lived, women are still striving for equality.
We have commissioned Rebecca Abrams (who wrote ‘The Jewish Journey: 4000 years in 22 Objects’ for the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, and whose latest book ‘Jewish Treasures from Oxford libraries’ has just been published and is longlisted for the Wingate Prize) to write our book on Licoricia and Winchester’s Medieval Jewish Community. This book is expected to be published in the summer of 2021, and will be on sale throughout the City and online.
Lessons for schools
We are making good progress in writing lessons for schools. We hope to release more details shortly.
We have received fascinating advice from the V&A, the British Museum, and the Jewish Museum about whether or not Licoricia would have worn rings, including wedding and betrothal rings, and concerning the brooch holding her cloak. This advice will be incorporated into the life-sized sculpture, which Ian Rank-Broadley has just been commissioned to sculpt for us prior to being cast in bronze.
Considerable progress has also been made on the plinth design with Ian Rank-Broadley and Hampshire County Council.
Throughout, there has been so much goodwill around the project that it spurs us on with enthusiasm. Thank you for your continued support.
We look forward to keeping in touch.
With best wishes from
The Licoricia of Winchester Team