INFORMATION RELEASE 27 January 2022
THE PRINCE OF WALES TO UNVEIL LICORICIA STATUE ON 10 FEBRUARY
HRH The Prince of Wales will be unveiling the statue of Licoricia of Winchester on Thursday 10 February. The sculpture by Ian Rank-Broadley FRSS, which will be located outside The Winchester Arc (formerly known as Winchester Discovery Centre) in Winchester’s Jewry Street, will then be blessed by the Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, Ephraim Mirvis.
During his visit to the City, The Prince will meet a range of local people and children, as well as representatives from the different faith communities who have supported the Licoricia project and leading figures from Winchester and Hampshire.
Licoricia was a leading personality in the Jewish community of Winchester in the 13th century. Despite being widowed twice, she successfully brought up her family, conducted her business and prospered in a hostile society. She was a major financier to Henry III and his Queen, Eleanor. Money raised from Licoricia and from the estate of her second husband David contributed to the building of Westminster Abbey and its rich shrine to Edward the Confessor.
The project to install a statue of Licoricia aims to inform people about England’s little-known but important medieval Jewish community; to be a fresh gateway to the study of Winchester’s royal medieval past; to promote tolerance and diversity in today’s society; to inspire women and show the importance of education in providing opportunity; and to be a lasting artistic enhancement to the city of Winchester.
Maggie Carver, Chairman of the Licorica appeal, said:
“The trustees are deeply honoured that His Royal Highness has agreed to unveil the statue of Licoricia of Winchester. In doing so, The Prince marks the historic importance of the medieval Jewish community in Winchester’s royal past, and the continuing importance of strong inter-faith understanding.
“We also greatly welcome the presence of Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and other faith leaders. His blessing of the statue will celebrate the challenging history of Jews in England across a thousand years, and embody the continuing need to educate citizens of today about the relevance of their shared heritage in creating a better society.”
Licoricia of Winchester Appeal:
- Tony Stoller firstname.lastname@example.org 07774 460422
- Danny Habel email@example.com 07710 331910
Office of the Chief Rabbi
- Director of Communications Mark Frazer firstname.lastname@example.org
Further information on the Licoricia project: www.licoricia.org.uk
Licoricia of Winchester Project Summary
The project is to erect a life-sized bronze statue at the Discovery Centre, Winchester (soon to be re-named the ARC), of one of the most important Jewish women in medieval England, Licoricia of Winchester. Using a top-class sculpture, a book, lessons for schools and inspirational activities, the aim is to educate the public about England and Winchester’s medieval Jewish community; to be a gateway to the study of Winchester’s Royal medieval past, and royal heritage in its wider context to promote tolerance and the value of diversity; inspire women and young people; and enhance the city.
- To educate people about Winchester’s important but little-known medieval Jewish Community in its wider context.
- To inform them about Winchester’s significant Royal medieval past.
- To promote tolerance and the value of diversity in the community.
- To inspire young people and women, illustrating the role of education in providing opportunities.
- To be of national interest and a lasting enhancement to the City of Winchester.
2. 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 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.
- A role model for women today: Licoricia was highly educated, like many Jewish women of her time, enabling them to be successful in their own right. Licoricia was twice widowed, ran her business and brought up her family as a single parent in a hostile society until she was murdered in 1277.
- A sideways view of Medieval England from the perspective of the Jews, a community that was part of society yet was excluded from it. Jews arrived in England in 1067 with William the Conqueror. They made a huge contribution to English society and contributed to the building of iconic places of worship including Westminster Abbey, Lincoln Cathedral and Hyde Abbey in Winchester.
- 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.
3. 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.
- As a minority, the Jews made an outsized contribution to England’s society and economy. Diversity of community creates cultural and commercial benefits.
- Prejudice and antisemitic practices developed in the Middle Ages, much of them still in evidence today. Examples are false accusations of deicide, ritual need of the blood of children for Jewish procedures, connecting Jews with money. Action against the Jews included forced wearing of identity badges, forced conversion, legal restrictions and physical attacks. 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.
4. Details of the project
- The project includes
- the production of the statue and its unveiling,
- an exhibition to accompany the unveiling at the library,
- the publication of a book
- the writing and dissemination of Key Stage 3 lessons for schools by Hampshire County Council.
There are no known illustrations of Licoricia and in any case, pictures created at the time showed rank and occupation rather than being accurate portraits, so the sculptor has used as his inspiration his daughter and grandson, both of whom are Jewish. Licoricia is wearing the clothes worn by a wealthy woman of her time. Careful research has gone into her clothes and headdress, with input from, inter alia, the V&A, the British Museum, and the Jewish Museum in London. Although at that time, Jews were required to wear a tabula (a badge shaped like the two tablets of the Ten Commandments, in a different cloth to the clothes to make them stand out) she is not wearing them as many Jews paid fines for the privilege not to. In Licoricia’s hand is a demand from the authorities for the community to pay a special tax (or tallage).
The Jews were frequently and arbitrarily taxed as they and everything they owned belonged to the King. Licoricia’s son Asher (which means ‘happy’ or ‘fortunate’ –Genesis 30:13) is also depicted in mid-13th century clothes. In his hand is a spinning top, Carved with Hebrew letters. This is a dreidel, still used today by Jewish children, who ‘play dreidel’ during December at Chanukah, the Festival of Lights. The Hebrew letters signify “a great miracle happened there”.
Licoricia is seen purposefully walking ahead – a women with much to do and complex issues on her mind – whilst holding on to Asher’s hand, showing her commitment at the same time to her family.
On one side of the plinth are the words “Licoricia of Winchester and her son Asher circa 1250” and on another side are the words “Love thy neighbour as thyself” from Leviticus, in English and Hebrew. The choice of biblical quote is significant for many reasons. First, it is the embodiment of our message of tolerance and respect for diversity. Second, it binds together the three Abrahamic faiths. Third, the English translation used will be that of the King James Bible, much of which was translated in Winchester, bringing further link to the Christian community and the Cathedral.
The font used for the wording on the plinth was chosen after careful research. The English lettering will be in Albertus font which was devised by Berthold Wolpe, a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany. Albertus was a German philosopher and priest, living at the time of Licoricia, who studied Hebrew, Arabic and Greek texts and was especially renowned as a mediator. The Hebrew font used was inspired by a 12th century Anglo-Jewish text.
Following a competition involving sculptors both local and national, the commission was won by Ian Rank-Broadley FRSS. Ian is one of the UK’s leading figurative sculptors. His important commissions include the Armed Forces Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum (Alrewas, Staffordshire), the effigy of the Queen used on UK and Commonwealth coinage between 1995 and 2018, and a statue of Diana, Princess of Wales for Prince William & Prince Harry at Kensington Palace.
The education project
Hampshire Inspection and Advisory Service (HIAS), the Schools Improvement Service for Hampshire schools and beyond, has written five lessons built on Licoricia’s story – a three lesson enquiry in which students discover what the extraordinary life of Licoricia of Winchester reveals about medieval society generally and how it treated its Jewish community, and a two lesson enquiry, exploring the medieval history of Winchester and what it reveals about the experience of the Jewish minority who lived there. They also explore how the experience of medieval Jews and Licoricia’s perceived significance has changed over time and why. They provide a meaningful local study in which to learn about the attitudes, power structures, relationships and events that affected the lives of the Jews of the time. These groundbreaking lessons will be available from Hampshire’s History Curriculum Centre for £50 (01962 874802, E-mail: email@example.com).
Rebecca Abrams has written a book aimed at a wide audience, which the Licoricia of Winchester Appeal hopes to publish in the first half of 2022. This book gives a lively account of Licoricia’s life, the city of Winchester at that time and the Jewish community within it, and the story of England’s thirteenth century Jews. It will be beautifully illustrated.
Over 90% of the funding for the project has come from private sources, the remainder being welcome support from Arts Council England. Major donors, grant-making bodies and local faith communities have joined more than 100 local individuals to make this project a reality. There is still the need to raise some further funding, and donations are invited at https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/Licoricia.