Walking tour of Winchester and round-table discussion at ARC, 21 May.

This roundtable event organised by the Parkes Institute of the University of Southampton will bring together key members of the Licoricia project, experts in medieval Anglo-Jewry, heritage studies and school educators to reflect on the key aims and successes of the Licoricia project, explroring the potential of such commemoration to consider the roots of prejudice and discrimination, using this to promote tolerance, diversity, and female empowerment. The discussion will be chaired by Miri Rubin (Professor of Medieval and Early Modern History at Queen Mary University of London) and will involve five speakers:

  • Toni Griffiths (Visiting Fellow at The Parkes Institute)
  • Katherine Weikert (Senior Lecturer in Early Medieval History at the University of Winchester)
  • Maggie Carver CBE DL (Chair of the Licoricia of Winchester Trust)
  • Educational team at Hants County Council: Justine Ball (County Inspector for History and RE) & Sarah Herrity (Teaching and Learning Advisor for Secondary History)

Please register to attend: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/licoricia-of-winchester-heritage-memory-of-medieval-anglo-jewry-tickets-617018628327

Getting Here: Parking in Winchester is extremely limited so we would advise you to plan your travel accordingly, making the most of public transport links. https://www.arcwinchester.org.uk/your-visit for directions on how to reach The Arc using public transport.


Justine Ball works for Hampshire County Council as the County Inspector for History and Religious Education, providing professional support for primary History and RE across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. She has a degree in Theology and MA in Religious Studies, as well as having completed Woolf Institute courses on ‘Bridging the Great Divide’ and ‘Jews, Christians and Muslims in Europe.’ Justine is one of the joint Vice Chairs of the Association of RE Inspectors, Advisors and Consultants (AREIAC), a joint Vice Chair of the London and South East Branch of AREIAC, and the South East RE Hub leader for England.

Maggie Carver is Deputy Chair of Ofcom and Chairs its Content Board and Election Committee, having recently spent 16 months as its Interim Chair. She is also Chair of the charity, the Licoricia of Winchester Appeal. Maggie’s working life began in investment banking followed by a number of roles in the media industry. She was involved in the setting up of ITV franchise, Meridian Broadcasting, and was Chief Executive of Channel 4 Racing producer and outside broadcaster, ThreeonFour. Until its sale in December 2017, she owned and ran with her husband, a retail and online business specialising in the sale of goods for the elderly and disabled. Additionally, over the last 30 years she has gained extensive experience as a non-executive director on the boards of twenty companies, public, private and not-for-profit. These include Chairing news and programme provider ITN, the British Board of Film Classification, leading horseracing industry body, the RCA, and multiplex operator, SDN, as well as the boards of Channel 5 Television, RDF Media plc, Satellite Information Services, the Eden Project and British Waterways. Maggie and her husband William have lived in Winchester for over 20 years and for the whole of that time they have been involved in local Jewish education projects and interfaith work. Ten years ago they initiated the Mitzvah Day project and just over five years ago, the Licoricia of Winchester project.

Toni Griffiths is a Visiting Fellow at The Parkes Institute for the Study of Jewish/Non-Jewish Relations, University of Southampton. She completed her PhD, ‘The Journey of Memory: Forgetting and Remembering England’s Medieval Jews’, in 2018 at the University of Winchester. Toni is also Senior Outreach Officer at the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust.

Sarah Herrity works for the Hampshire Inspection and Advisory Service (HIAS) which provides consultancy and inspection services to schools in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. Sarah is the HIAS teaching and learning advisor for history and has additional roles concerning quality assurance, safeguarding and provision for Early Career Teachers. Sarah has written teaching materials on Licoricia of Winchester including the published Key Stage 4 GCSE case study for the Pearson Migration unit, the Pearson KS3 Topic of the Month on Licoricia due to be published shortly, and the HIAS resourced enquiries into the historical significance of Licoricia and what her life reveals about the treatment of the medieval Jewish minority in England. The Licoricia of Winchester Appeal charity commissioned the resources which are available from the Hampshire History Curriculum Centre.

Miri Rubin is Professor of Medieval and Early Modern History at Queen Mary University of London, and President of the Jewish Historical Society of England since 2020. She has written books and articles that explore the religious cultures of Europe between 1100 and 1600, with particular attention to community relations, relations between Jews and Christians, the participation of women, and ideas about the body and emotions.

Katherine Weikert is a senior lecturer in early medieval history, and Deputy Head of the School of History and Archaeology at the University of Winchester. Her research specialties are in gender and authority in the central middle ages, particularly in regards to place and material culture. Her monograph Gender, Authority and Space in the Anglo-Norman World, 900-1200, was shortlisted for the Alice Davis Hitchcock Award by the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain.

The Walking Tour is led by Toni Griffiths exploring Winchester’s Jewish history and ending with the Licoricia statue.

Find out more about the fascinating history of the Jewish community by joining us for the Winchester Medieval Jewish Trail. Winchester has an important Jewish past. The earliest record of Jews in the city date to the mid-1100s, making it one of the earliest, largest, and most successful Jewish settlements in England. The medieval Jewish settlement was based around Jewry Street, and while it thrived for a period, the 13th century would see the community facing heavy fines, imprisonment, and execution before their eventual expulsion in 1290. Although fascinating, until recently, the story was little known.

Please book here: https://store.southampton.ac.uk/conferences-and-events/faculty-of-arts-and-humanities/events/licoricia-of-winchester-heritage-and-memory-of-medieval-anglo-jewry-sunday-21st-may-1030am

Our latest newsletter

Dear Supporter

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.

The book

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 history.centre@hants.gov.uk.  They have been well-received and were updated for the unveiling and the Royal visit. 

Plans for 2023

Information Board

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.

Yours sincerely

Maggie Carver CBE DL, Chairman                              William Carver, Treasurer and Secretary

Rebecca Adams speaking at Jewish Book Week

Rebecca Abrams will be in conversation with renowned professor of medieval and early modern history, Miri Rubin, on Sunday 26 February 2023. The talk is between 5pm and 6pm at Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9AG, and tickets cost £9.50. More details are available on https://www.kingsplace.co.uk/whats-on/words/licoricia-power-prejudice/

Dubbed ‘totally fascinating, tragic and unforgettable’ by Simon Sebag Montefiore, Licoricia of Winchester, a 13th century Jewish financier, was the most important Jewish woman in medieval England. In turn royal favourite, widow, potentate and prisoner, her extraordinary life took place against a backdrop of civil war, bad government and the ever-present and terrifying spectre of antisemitism. 

New Historical Association course on medieval Jews in 2023

Professor Miri Rubin and Dean Irwin will be running a course with the Historical Association in early 2023, entitled ‘The Jews of Medieval England: Murder, Money, and Expulsion’. It has been designed to reach lifelong learners (with a particular emphasis on teachers). They will focus on specific aspects of medieval Anglo-Jewish history, as well as providing a full introduction to the topic. Although the dates have yet to be finalised, registration is now open and we hope that it might be of interest to you and your networks.


The Jews of Medieval England: Murder, Money, and Expulsion

Delivered by Professor Miri Rubin and Dr Dean A. Irwin

Starting January 2023 – Dates TBC


A Jewish community was established in England shortly after the Norman Conquest. Initially confined to London, from the 1130s onwards Jews began to settle in other parts of the country, where they lived as English Jews for more than two centuries. Their life in England came to an end in 1290 with Edward I’s order of expulsion. As the only religious minority permitted to settle, the Jews occupied a unique legal position in under royal privilege and within English society. The Crown provided many protections and these allowed some Jews – especially before the 1250s – to become extremely wealthy. Equally, Jews were exposed to exploitation, most obviously through excessive taxation, and eventually though accusations of violent acts. In England around 1150 the child murder accusation – one of the most pernicious and enduring anti-Jewish slurs – alleged for the first time that Jews were obliged to murder a Christian child once a year in parody of the crucifixion of Christ.

What topics are covered in the course?

This course is designed to take participants through the spectacular highs and catastrophic lows of medieval Anglo-Jewish life. No prior knowledge is required. An introductory talk will familiarise participants with the historical context required. Thereafter, three discussion sessions will offer opportunities to consider the Jews through key themes that have dominated historical writing on the Jews: money, murder, and expulsion. As a conclusion to this course, a final talk will examine the daily lives of medieval Jews. Consequently, those undertaking this short course will be well equipped to understand various aspects of medieval Anglo-Jewish history, to impart it to others, and to pursue their own interests further.

When does the course take place?

This course will run from January to April 2023 and is free and open to all, subject to registration. You do not need to be a member to take part. 

Dates of the live sessions will be confirmed in due course, and will be structured as follows:

  • Session 1: Introduction – Medieval England and the Jews (1hr talk + 30 mins discussion) – Dr Dean A. Irwin
  • Session 2: Money (90 mins group discussion) – Dr Dean A. Irwin
  • Session 3: Murder (90 mins group discussion) – Professor Miri Rubin
  • Session 4: Expulsion (90 mins group discussion) – Professor Miri Rubin and Dr Dean A. Irwin
  • Session 5: Conclusion: Jewish Daily Life in the Middle Ages (1hr talk + 30 mins discussion) TBC

How is the course structured?

This course is 100% online and will include access to curated resources as well as live online lectures and discussion sessions. We encourage live participation in these lectures and workshops to make the most of the experience, however all the live events will be recorded and made available to listen to on the resource unit after they have taken place. 

Who can take part? 

The course is free and open to all, but the course is particularly designed for lifelong learners. It is available to anybody with an interest in the topic who wants to learn more while developing their historical skills, without the pressure of any form of assessment. You do not need any prior knowledge of the topic to take part. 

Who is leading the course? 

Dr Dean Irwin is an independent scholar who works on the Jews of medieval England. He is a board member of the medievalJewishStudiesNow! blog.

Professor Miri Rubin is Professor of Medieval and Early Modern History at Queen Mary, University of London and President of the Jewish Historical Society of England. She has published extensively on medieval Europe, including an edition of The Life and Passion of William of Norwich for Penguin in 2014.

How do I take part? 

To register for the short course, please complete this short form and we will contact you with further details when they are confirmed. If you have questions, please contact us

Historical Association short courses

Following the successful pilot of a short course over the summer and autumn of 2022 the HA will be introducing two short courses a year.

These courses will bring together collated written resources, podcasts and films alongside interactive lecture sessions. Each course will have expert historians and lecturers as speakers and facilitators. The live sessions will be available as a recording for those registered on the course.

The content of the short courses aims to increase knowledge and understanding of a particular event, time or thematic and the courses should appeal to all adult learners with an interest in history. 

Licoricia included in Historical Association blog

We are very excited that Licoricia is now included in the Historical Association’s One Big History Department blog:

A 13thC Jewish woman: Licoricia of Winchester

Thank you to William Carver of The Licoricia of Winchester Appeal (mail@licoricia.org) for this blogpost. The story of Licoricia of Winchester provides a window into the 13th century world and offers a story that can build coherent knowledge from the later to the earlier middle ages. Her story also illuminates the story of Jewish people in England in the period and is therefore an important addition to a more diverse curriculum.

Licoricia was a remarkable Jewish businesswoman, wife and mother who lived in Winchester in the 13th Century.  Robert Stacey of Washington University has described her as ‘the most important Jewish woman in thirteenth century England’.  A statue has been erected of her in Winchester which HRH Prince Charles visited in March 2022.  She is a gateway into the forgotten Jewish community of the time with important lessons for today.  

Why she is important as a historical topic in her own right

She is important in her own right because of who she was, what she represents and what she achieved against great difficulty and danger.

She was a Jew, part of a persecuted minority, and she personally experienced this persecution, which increased through the thirteenth century to a climax in 1290.  Her first husband Abraham was accused of child-murder (a common prejudice of the time).  She was young about the time of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), and the Council of Oxford in 1222, middle-aged when Henry III’s ‘Statute concerning the Jews’ was promulgated in 1253 and elderly at the time of Edward I’s Statute of the Jewry of 1275 (all enacted progressively severe anti-Jewish measures).  She experienced the sacking of Winchester’s Jewry by the French in 1217.    She became a leader of her community with its synagogue on her land, and like many Jews was held hostage in the Tower of London whilst money was raised to pay the increasingly heavy levies on her community.  She probably paid fines not to wear the tabulae, badges which Jews were required to wear because of church pressure.  She will have taken refuge in Winchester Castle when Simon de Montfort destroyed Winchester’s Jewry in 1265.  In 1277 she was murdered at home in Jewry Street for unknown reasons.  

Her family was also persecuted.  Her second son, Benedict, became probably the only Jew allowed to become a guildsman in Europe, and was appointed ‘Keeper of the Queen’s Gold’ (Edward I’s Queen, Eleanor of Provence, was entitled to ten per cent of all Jewish fines, tallages and confiscated property, including those of executed people).  Despite or perhaps because of this, he was murdered as part of the 1277 coin-clipping pogrom.  Her youngest son Asher, was probably forced out of England by Edward I, along with the rest of the English Jews, in 1290 – England was the first country to do this. Graffiti, probably his, but subsequently lost, was found in Winchester Castle in the seventeenth century by John Selden.

She was a woman.  It was very unusual and dangerous for a commoner woman to run such a significant business and work closely with the king.  Her danger is illustrated by the coercion used against her to extract funds – she was held hostage in the Tower of London several times to do so – and by the execution of her son Benedict.  She raised funds for Henry III and Queen Eleanor as well as local and national projects including the Edward the Confessor chapel at Westminster Abbey.  She was also a single mother after she was widowed soon after the birth of her youngest son, Asher.  This would have brought its own pressures to bear.

She was highly educated and this was key to her success.  Her education was unusual for the time, but more common amongst Jews, who have traditionally highly valued literacy – she probably spoke French, English, Latin and Hebrew, and was well-versed in law and finance – and this was key to her success.  

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said at the unveiling of Licoricia in February 2022 (attended by leaders of the Jewish, Anglican, Catholic, Orthodox, Quaker, Muslim, Jain, Buddhist, Sikh and Bahai communities) that ‘the story of Licoricia shines a light on the nature of the medieval Jewish community.  Despite living in a society which was frequently hostile to Jews, Licoricia was totally committed to raising her family, building a successful enterprise and contributing to the prosperity of the country.  The statue sends a powerful message today about the importance of hard work, being generous, and respect for all people’.  

What she reveals about her world

England was diverse eight hundred years ago.  Jews were part of the English community from 1067 until 1290, having arrived after the Norman Conquest in 1066. They contributed to the building of iconic places of worship such as Westminster Abbey and Lincoln Cathedral, castles like the Tower of London, as well as to trade and culture.  When Licoricia’s second husband David died, she had to pay £3,800 towards the Edward the Confessor chapel in Westminster Abbey; David Carpenter has estimated annual royal income at about £25,000 in the thirteenth century).

It has been estimated that the Jews contributed between a seventh and a tenth of royal income in the thirteenth century.  The Jews formed a private income for the king and queen, whose property they were, and who protected the Jews when it was in their interest to do so.  

Only a small number of Jews however were top financiers, and there was competition from the Christian population despite the efforts of the church to discourage this activity.   The Jews were restricted in the jobs they could do – work they were allowed to undertake included doctors, teachers, scribes, poets, vintners, metalworkers and tradesmen.  Three quarters of the Jewish population eked out a living at the lower end of the urban scale; in general, Anglo-Jewry was no richer and no poorer than the Christian community.

Many prejudices against the Jews were seeded in the Middle Ages, and watered by the church. Such prejudices included deicide, the killing of children (blood libel) and the exaggerated association of Jews and money. These prejudices led to marking through badges and clothing, attempts at conversion and attacks.  The first example of blood libel came from Norwich in 1244, and it spread throughout Europe and still exists today.  Badges, an antecedent of the Nazi yellow star, were introduced by the Catholic church in its Fourth Lateran Council (1215) and were intended to make Jews and Muslims more easily distinguishable from Christians as a prevention against miscegenation.  This was adopted by the 1222 Oxford Synod, which also, inter alia, prevented Jews from entering churches, hiring Christians as servants or wetnurses, or building synagogues in places where they were not already settled.

England was the first country to expel its Jewish population.  As Rebecca Abrams writes in her new book, by 1290 the Jews were ‘decimated in number and financially ruined’, as a result of ‘ruinous royal taxation, civil war, mob violence and judicial murder’.  

Links to educational material

Hampshire’s History and Curriculum Centre have developed five lessons on Licoricia.  A three lesson enquiry enables students to discover 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. Students can also examine how and why Licoricia’s perceived significance has changed over time. A 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. 

Edexcel has included her in their resource booklet

Some lesson material has been kindly developed by Mr Chris Zieba of Bitterne School, Southampton.  Please see https://licoricia.org/schools/


The medieval Jews

The population of Winchester’s Jewish community in the 13th century was around 200 (larger than today), and that of the entire population about 0.25%, similar to today.  

By 1189 there were 24 major Jewries outside of London, as well as many smaller communities.   Winchester had recently been the capital of England and close links were maintained with the French possessions of the Angevin and Plantagenet kings.

For more information please see www.licoricia.org or Rebecca Abrams’ new book, Licoricia of Winchester:  Power and Prejudice in Medieval England.

The statue of Licoricia in Winchester

The unique statue of Licoricia stands near where she lived, on Jewry Street.  She is depicted with her youngest son Asher (whose name means “happy”) who is aged about five years old. 

At the base of the statue is written “Love thy neighbour as thyself ” from the Jewish Bible (Old Testament) Leviticus ch.19 – a message which is shared by Jews, Christians and Muslims. 

The statue is located at Winchester’s ARC on Jewry Street where there are rooms available for school parties.  It can be included in Winchester’s medieval Jewish trail to make a fascinating day out.

BBC History Extra podcast on Licoricia

History Extra is the official website for BBC History Magazine and BBC History Revealed. A podcast led by Miri Rubin of the JHSE has just been released:

What can one woman reveal about Jewish life in medieval England?

Miri Rubin, Dean Irwin and Toni Griffiths examine what the extraordinary life story of Licoricia of Winchester can reveal about the experiences of Jews in medieval England