Licoricia has been described by Robert Stacey as ‘the most important Jewish woman in medieval England’. The sculpture will be a beautiful addition to Winchester in its own right, acting as a gateway to medieval Winchester, its Jewish community, and its royal connections. Depicting a successful businesswoman of the time, it will act as an inspiration to women of today and also promote tolerance and understanding in our society.
Sculpted by top sculptor Ian Rank-Broadley, it will be a life-size bronze and depict Licoricia with her youngest son, Asher, at about five to six years old, holding her hand. 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.
What’s the purpose of the Statue?
- Educate people about England’s and Winchester’s important but little-known medieval Jewish Community,
- Inform them about Winchester’s significant Royal medieval past.
- Promote tolerance and the acceptance of diversity in the community.
- Inspire young people and women, illustrating the role of education in providing opportunities.
- Be of national interest and a lasting enhancement to the city of Winchester
Licoricia will be wearing the clothes worn by a wealthy woman of her time. Careful research has gone into her clothes and headdress, with input from the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Jewish Museum in London. Although at that time, Jews were required to wear a tabula (a badge shaped like the Ten Commandments) she is not wearing one as wealthier Jews paid the Church for the privilege not to. In Licoricia’s right hand will be a document called a chirograph with a jagged edge. Chirographs were legal documents in which both parties agreed to loan. Duplicate wording was at the top and bottom of the document and the copy cut in half by a jagged edge unique to each document. Each party took one half of the document which could then be proved as the original by the jagged edges fitting together. The chirograph in Licoricia’s hand is inspired by an original chirograph of hers found in the National Archive.
Licoricia’s son Asher is also depicted in mid-13th century clothes. In his hand is a dreidel, a spinning top. The top and letters relate to the dreidel game (thought to derive originally from the Roman game of Teetotum) which is usually played at the Jewish festival of Chanukah. Asher was the second son of Jacob and Leah (Genesis 30:13, which reads: ‘Leah declared, “What a fortune!” meaning “Women will deem me fortunate.” So she named him Asher’).
Licoricia is seen purposefully walking ahead – a woman with much to do and complex issues on her mind – whilst also holding on to Asher’s hand showing her commitment at the same time to her family.
The plinth will have the words from Leviticus 19:18 (‘Love thy neighbour as thyself’) inscribed in both English and Hebrew. The English will be from the King James version of the Bible as large parts of this Bible were translated in Winchester.
As Suzanne Bartlet writes in her book ‘Licoricia of Winchester’, Licoricia is the story of one woman in the thirteenth century living not only within her Jewish community, but alongside her Christian neighbours in the old capital of Winchester. Her life and that of her family reflect the experiences of the Jews of medieval England during the century that ended with their expulsion to the continent, and with it the story of Jewry in this country, until their return in the seventeenth century.
Following a competition involving sculptors both local and national, the commission was won by Ian Rank-Broadley FRSS. Ian is a multi-award winning sculptor with many important commissions to his name. These include, the Armed Forces Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum, the effigy of HM Queen used on all UK & Commonwealth coinage 1998- 2015, and a commission for a statue of Diana, Princess of Wales for TRH Duke of Cambridge and Duke of Sussex for Kensington Palace.
Photographs of part of the Armed Forces Memorial and the effigy of the Queen on UK coinage.
Ian has kindly given permission for us to use photographs of the sculpture. We have the enthusiastic support of both Hampshire County Council and Winchester Council in the project.