East Anglian Jewry
in Victorian Britain




Extract from papers on
Provincial Jewry in Victorian Britain

Papers prepared by Dr. (later Prof.) Aubrey Newman for a conference at University College, London, convened on 6 July 1975 by the Jewish Historical Society of England
(Reproduced here with Prof. Newman's kind consent)

Paper first published on JCR-UK: 17 August 2016
Latest revision: 11 December 2016

Papers on East Anglia

NORWICH (Norfolk)

Published Data

A  -  There was a community here in the early nineteenth century. There were 7 Ba'ale Batim and 3 seatholders in 1845, and in 1851 there were 30 appropriated seats and 26 attenders at service; the population was estimated at 75.


Synagogue, Saint Faith's Lane. Opened 1873.


Jewish population 158      1901 - 1 death.

Synagogue, Synagogue Street (founded 1842). Seatholders 14, members 17.

Jewish Young Men's Mutual Improvement Society.

Chovevi Zion Tent.

Hebrew School (founded 1890). 20 children attend this school, 14 boys and 6 girls.

Sabbath Class (founded 1895). 35 children.

Chevra Kadisha.

[A. Primarily, The Rise of Provincial Jewry by Cecil Roth (1950)
[a - The Jewish Directory for 1874, by Asher I. Myers]
[b - Jewish Year Book]

Board of Deputies returns

  births marriages burials seatholders


2 (1M)





























by Harry Levine

(For the Community's early history, see "Norwich" in Cecil Roth's "The Rise of Provincial Jewry", 1950)

The present Norwich Synagogue is situated at 3 Earlham Road. The magnificent Synagogue which had been built in St. Faiths Lane, Mountergate in 1849 had been destroyed in 1942 by a Nazi raid on Norwich.

Cecil Roth gives the date of the first mention of Jews resident in Norwich as early as 1750. This is corroborated by a report which appeared in the Norwich Mercury on June 1st 1754 of a quarrel between the Minister and the Hon. Officers which resulted in a summons to appear before the Worshipful Mayor in a court of Justice. Both parties wore bound over to keep the peace. Jews were very much in the news at this time, for it was only in the previous year 1753 that the Jewish Nationalisation Bill was passed in Parliament. Owing to popular clamour, the Bill was repealed the following year, and the attack was led by the London Evening Post, and many of the articles were reprinted in the Norwich Mercury. The Bishop of Norwich supported the Bill, and his liberal and tolerant attitude was attacked especially by the mob and the Norwich Mercury. The population of the city was then 36,000 and the Jewish families numbered not more than twenty.

The Synagogue was no more than a large room in a house in Ber Street, in the district of St. John De Sepulchre, where the first and oldest cemetery was situated. The first actual Synagogue was built in the first years of the 19th century under the leadership of Barnett Crawcour (1785-1835) and it was situated in Tombland, opposite the Cathedral.

Still to be seen and visited, in a well preserved state is the cemetery in Quaker Lane, where Barnett Crawcour lies buried. Inscribed on the tombstone are the words, "Sacred to the memory of Barnett Crawcour, aged 50, who died on September 25th 5595. He was the founder of the Jews Synagogue in Norwich."

At this period every Jewish Community was occupied with the struggle for Jewish Emancipation. The Minutes testify that the small congregation of Norwich played its part. On July 16th 1847, a letter was sent to Sydney Smith Esq., supporting the petition of the London Committee for the removal of Jewish disabilities. There is also a Minute to the effect that a letter be sent to S.M. Peto, M.P. for Norwich, asking him to receive a Petition for the Emancipation of the Jews. Also a letter to be sent to the Bishop of Norwich requesting to know whether it would be convenient to receive a Deputation from the Congregation and speak favourably in the House of Lords.

The years 1840-1850 was the period of the maximum strength and influence of the community of thirty families, and it was resolved to build a magnificent Synagogue commensurate with its increasing importance. The President and Lay Leader was Joel Fox who was a highly esteemed and respected personality in the city, for he had been elected to the Town Council and a member of the Board of Guardians. The estimated cost was 500, and Appeal letters were circulated among the communities comprising Anglo-Jewry. The Foundation Stone was laid on June 16th 1848 by Joel Fox and the service was conducted by the Minister the Rev. Simon Caro. The Consecration took place on September 6th 1849, in the presence of a crowded congregation, representatives of Communities who had contributed to the cost, and the civic dignitaries of the town. The whole story. of the project is told in my illustrated booklet, Short History of the Norwich Hebrew Congregation (1840-1960). Chapters are devoted to the Personalities of the Period the Rev. Simon Caro; Joel Fox; The Haldenstein family; Israel Bloch; The Samuel Family and the rise of Arthur Michael Samuel, the first Lord Mancroft who was Lord Mayor of Norwich 1912-13; George Bendon; Samuel Harrison; The Ecker family; Isaac Leveton and his son Cyril D. Leveton who was President for three separate periods of three years, and who was Chairman of the Building Committee which established the present Synagogue in Earlham Road. Tribute is paid to the late Theodore Fairfield Keller who was President of the Norwich Zionist and Social Society for many years, as well as President of the Congregation.

Some twenty three years after the excitement and inspiration of building the Synagogue in what was named Synagogue Street the congregation found itself on the verge of liquidation. The bank was demanding the payment of the mortgage of 700. An appeal letter was inserted in the Jewish Chronicle of June 7th 1872 signed by Israel Bloch, President, and Benjamin Samuel, Treasurer. After explaining the circumstances of its present predicament, it continued, "The remaining members are anxious that the Synagogue shall not fall into strange hands; and they therefore appeal with earnestness to those who may read its history, and feel that in a city so full of ancient Jewish associations, its synagogue merits help and assistance. It is now the last of the Jewish communities in the Eastern Counties for the Congregations of Kings Lynn, Cambridge, Bury St. Edmunds, Yarmouth and Ipswich have all now ceased to exist."

Whether this last "cri-de-coeur" influenced readers to respond to the Appeal for funds, it is difficult to estimate. The mortgage was cleared and the Congregation survived.


Introduction to Papers on East Anglia

Provincial Jewry in Victorian Britain - List of Contents

Norwich Jewish Community home page

Norwich Hebrew Congregation home page

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