2022 has been a momentous year for us. The unveiling and Royal visit in February and March respectively were the highlights of the year, but much was accomplished towards our other goals. In Phase One of the project (for which we raised £192,000) we aimed to erect the statue with an information board close to it, hold a pop-up exhibition to accompany the unveiling, create Key Stage Three lessons for children, produce and distribute an information leaflet in Winchester, and publish a book. With the publication of the book (Licoricia of Winchester: Power and Prejudice in Medieval England, by Rebecca Abrams) in the summer of 2022, all these have been achieved, with the exception of the Information Board. We plan to erect the latter in early 2023. As you will see below, we are now pressing on with our Phase Two educational work and have some exciting projects planned.
The unveiling of the statue and Royal visit
The unveiling of the statue was preceded by hard work by sculptor, Ian Rank-Broadley, in finishing the life-size statue, casting and patinating it. There was also much to do in submitting a request for planning permission, finalising the statue site, and designing and commissioning the plinth.
Considerable effort went into preparations for the unveiling, and we are really grateful for all the assistance we received from Hampshire County Council in organising it. We were extremely pleased that the unveiling was supported by a wide range of senior faith and other leaders, with the invaluable help of the Council of Christians and Jews.
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis (Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth) gave a magnificent and moving speech. Other leaders included Rabbi Charley Baginsky (CEO of Liberal Judaism), Rabbi Joseph Dweck (Senior Rabbi of the Spanish and Portuguese Community of the United Kingdom), Archbishop Nikitas Loulias (Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox diocese of Thyateira and Great Britain), Archbishop Kevin McDonald (Archbishop Emeritus of the Roman Catholic Archdioceseof Southwark), The Very Reverend Catherine Ogle (Dean of Winchester Cathedral), Reverend Dr Hugh Osgood (Moderator of the Free Churches Group), Bishop Debbie Sellin (Bishop of Southampton and acting Bishop of Winchester), Reverend Dr Richard Sudworth (Secretary for Inter Religious Affairs to the Archbishop of Canterbury and National Inter Religious Affairs Advisor for the Church of England), Marie van der Zyl (President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews), The Lord Mann (HM Government adviser on Antisemitism), many leading Rabbis from different denominations, and local Muslim representatives.
Senior representatives from Hampshire County Council, Winchester Council, Hampshire Cultural Trust, and local organisations were also present, as were donors to the Appeal, our Patrons, Simon Sebag Montefiore and Dame Jenny Abramsky, and our Trustees. The unveiling was accompanied by a klezmer band and was well attended by over a thousand members of the public. Security was provided by mounted police.
Over two hundred guests were entertained in Winchester’s Great Hall as part of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations. Klezmer music was again played, and a guard of honour was provided by the Gurkhas. At the Great Hall, a speech was given on Licoricia’s connections with Winchester by Councillor Keith Mans, Chairman of Hampshire County Council, and one of our Patrons, Simon Sebag Montefiore, gave a rousing speech on Licoricia’s significance.
Three weeks later we were hugely honoured to be visited by HM King Charles, when Prince of Wales. The centre of Winchester was closed to traffic again and our Chair, Maggie Carver, gave a speech explaining why the statue has been erected. As with the unveiling itself, a huge crowd of the public had assembled.
Both these events were widely reported in local and national media, reaching an audience of well over a million people. The events were covered by local and national radio (including an interview with Rebecca Abrams on Woman’s Hour), local television (BBC and ITV), and newspapers, magazines and online – local, national, and international in Europe, America and Israel. Licoricia’s Wikipedia webpage has had over 40,000 visits and our own website over 20,000 visits. We have distributed over 6,000 leaflets locally.
The statue of Licoricia is very popular with residents and visitors alike. She has become a “Selfie Queen”, and children love Asher. Interestingly, Licoricia has been especially inspiring to women of all ages, regardless of religion, as a strong woman who succeeded in a man’s world in difficult circumstances.
We are particularly pleased with the interfaith reaction. The Catholic Church in Jewry Street gave a sermon about her messages and the Dean of Winchester Cathedral produced an online video which is now on Youtube and on our website. Winchester Cathedral also arranged a series of four talks inspired by Licoricia, her community and her times. These thoughtfully and sensitively tackled such subjects as Jews and Money and the Jews in the Tower of London.
We have been encouraged by the extent other organisations are helping spread our messages. Following the unveiling, Licoricia has been included in an information board in Winchester City Museum. Winchester’s Medieval Jewish Trail has been updated to include Licoricia.
Outside Winchester, Maggie gave a talk at the House of Lords, hosted by Lord Mann. Presentations have been given to many synagogues and groups visiting Winchester’s Medieval Jewish Trail. The statue will shortly be donated to Hampshire County Council, who will maintain it.
Our fascinating book, (‘Licoricia of Winchester: Power and Prejudice in Medieval England’, ISBN 978-1-3999-1638-7) was published in June and has been well-received by both experts and the general public. Robert Stacey, Professor Emeritus of the University of Washington, wrote that it is ‘a beautifully written account of the life of the most important Jewish woman in thirteenth-century England.
Easily accessible to general readers yet informative even to specialists, this book deserves a wide and receptive audience’. It has 144 pages, is well-illustrated with over 40 colour images, and retails at £14.99.
The book has engendered considerable interest, including from Tracy-Ann Oberman, who mentioned her in a tweet. The book is selling well with around one third of the 2,000 print-run having sold, despite availability problems with Amazon, Waterstones and the distribution warehouse.
Rebecca will be giving a talk at Jewish Book Week in 2023.
We are working hard to maximise Licoricia’s impact and now that the statue is in place, we are using it as the foundation of our educational activities. We have had podcasts produced from Hampshire HistoryBites, Apple, History Extra, Footnoting History, the Campaign against Antisemitism, BBC History Extra, the Jewish Historical Society of England and Medieval Jewish Studies. The Historical Association included her in their One Big History Department blog.
The Jewish Museum London has exhibited the maquette of Licoricia for the last six months, and this has been very successful. Here are some examples of comments from visitors:
“I find it very inspirational to see powerful women and their stories celebrated”
“How fabulous to see a recognisable window into the representation of women in the distant past – one can only wonder at the challenges she must have faced and how unfortunately women still face challenges in today’s society”
“This presentation has been very useful for understanding the context of the place of women in society – very inspirational”
Five ground-breaking Key Stage 3 lessons have been created by Hampshire County Council which are available in Hampshire and beyond to teach about Licoricia and her lessons for today. The lessons are divided into two enquiries. The first, three lesson enquiry, looks at what the extraordinary life of Licoricia of Winchester reveals about medieval society and how it treated its Jewish community. They explore how the experience of medieval Jews changed over time and why.
The second, two lesson enquiry, explores the medieval history of Winchester to discover what it reveals about the experience of the Jewish minority who lived there. It provides a meaningful local study and familiar context in which to learn about the attitudes, power structures, relationships and events that affected their lives.
The lessons are available from HIAS (Hampshire’s Inspectorate and Advisory Service) who can be contacted on 01962 874802 or via firstname.lastname@example.org. They have been well-received and were updated for the unveiling and the Royal visit.
Plans for 2023
There is considerable demand from visitors to the statue for the information board near the statue, and so this is our next priority. Hampshire Cultural Trust are helping us with wording and design and we hope to apply for Advertisement consent in early 2023. We plan to instal it in spring 2023.
Primary school lessons
We are in discussion with Hampshire County Council about producing lessons for primary schools and we hope to progress this early in 2023. Further funding may be necessary.
Park Community School, Portsmouth
Park Community School provided a contingent of lovely young people to meet HM King Charles at both the unveiling and the subsequent Royal visit. They are now interested in building some of our material into their RE and history syllabi. As with the teacher-training materials, there could be possibilities for wider distribution of the materials we produce.
Winchester’s County Archives contain the Winchester Bishopric Pipe Rolls. These cover 331 years between 1208-09 and 1710-11. The medieval bishops of Winchester held the richest English episcopal estate. The Pipe Rolls, arguably the finest medieval estate accounts in Europe, were among twenty artefacts from UK archives awarded a place in 2011 in the UK Memory of the World Register run by UNESCO. Pierre des Roches, Bishop of Winchester under King John and the young Henry III, was a privotal figure in English politics, and we know that he engaged with Winchester’s Jews. We would like to fund some research to uncover more about Winchester’s Jewish community and their place in, and contribution to, medieval society.
We are keen to work with other like-minded organisations to promote our aims of making England’s medieval Jewish community better-known, promote education and the benefits of diversity, combat prejudice, and encourage female achievement.
Overall, we have been thrilled with the response to the project in 2022 and feel optimistic about prospects for 2023. Locally, it is changing the way Winchester sees itself, and nationally, it is changing our understanding of British history. We also feel that some progress is being made in peoples’ understanding of the prejudices about Jews that were formed during the middle ages, more than 700 years ago, and hope that the project will have a long-term impact on antisemitism.
The response of women to Licoricia, of children to her son Asher, and generally to our message of ‘love thy neighbour as thyself’, has been heartening. We have good work still to do.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank our trustees and our patrons for their hard work in a busy year, and also to thank you for your support, which is absolutely vital to our work. We look forward to staying in touch.
Further fundraising will be necessary in 2023. Please let us know if you would like to contribute to any of the above projects.
Maggie Carver CBE DL, Chairman William Carver, Treasurer and Secretary