Medieval (Pre-1290) Jewish Communities in South East England
(including Hampshire and Oxfordshire, but excluding London, Middlesex and Essex)










  • Arundel

  • Bosham

  • Chichester

  • Hastings

  • Lewes

  • Rye

  • Seaford

  • Winchelsea 6

Counties referred to above are not necessarily the counties in which the towns are now located, but are the historic shires (or counties) in which the relevant towns were situated prior to the reorganization of local government in 1965 and 1974.  Although in many cases they are the counties in which the towns were situated during the medieval period, this is not necessarily the case.

1 Appearing in capital letters. Towns with archae (official registers of Jewish financial transactions, created after 1194).
4 There are several towns or villages in England or Wales with this name.  However, the location given is most probably the correct location of the Jewish community or place of settlement.
5 Towns from which Jews were expelled in 1290. 
6 Towns from which Jews had been excluded prior to 1290.




One of the twenty-six centres to have an archa.

Chronology of Events

1185 – Earliest record of Jews living in Bedford.

1202 – Jew in Bedford accused of causing the death of a child by “ementulating” him.

1290 - Jewish community expelled.

Jewish Residents of Bedford prior to 1290


Modern Bedford Community  

Dunstable, Beds.

Chronology of Events

1189 – The whole Jewish community in Dunstable, which is believed to have started sometime during the reign of Henry II (1154-1189), reported to have accepted baptism in order to save itself from massacre, during the attacks that took place during this year.

1194 – In light of the outbreaks of violence that occurred only four years previously, Dunstable is conspicuously missing from the list of Jewish communities participating to the Northampton Donum, summoned to decide how to raise the levy imposed upon the Jews to pay the ransom for the release of King Richard I.

Modern Dunstable Community


Newbury & Speenhamland

1242 – Jews expelled.

Modern Newbury Community  


Newport (now Newport Pagnell), Bucks.

1154-89 – Jewish community in Newport believed to have started during reign of King Henry II. 

Modern Milton Keynes Community

Wycombe, Bucks.

1234 – Jews expelled from Wycombe.

Modern (High) Wycombe Community


Southampton, Hamps.

1236 – Jews expelled from Southampton.

Modern Southampton Community  

Winchester, Hamps.

An historic city (it had been the English capital in the first part of the eleventh century) and one of the original centres to have an archae.

Chronology of Events

1154 – Beginning of reign of King Henry II.  The existence of a Jewish community in Winchester is noted in official Treasury records.

1189 – Possibly the only Jewish community to remain unscathed from the anti-Jewish attacks which took place in the year.

1191 – Ritual murder allegation against Jews of Winchester, following the discovery of a child’s body outside the city walls.

c.1216 – Right of Jews to live in Winchester expressly confirmed during early part if reign of Henry III.

1290 - Jewish community expelled.

Synagogues Information

The ancient synagogue was in Trussil street, subsequently Jail street.

Articles on the Medieval Winchester Community

Jewish Encyclopaedia article on Winchester by Joseph Jacobs, c-1906.

Jewish Residents of Winchester prior to 1290


Berkhamsted, Herts.

One of the twenty-six centres to have an archa.

1242 – Jews expelled from Berkhamsted.

Jewish Residents of Berkhamsted prior to 1290

Modern Berkhamstead Community


Canterbury, Kent

An important city in medieval England, the primary ecclesiastical city and one of the original centres to have an archa. The Jewry seems to have been located in Shorten street, which become Jewry street, leading to North Gate.

Chronology of Events

1194 – One of the five most important Jewish communities in England, sending between 20 and 40 contributors to the Northampton Donum, summoned to decide how to raise the levy imposed upon the Jews to pay the ransom for the release of King Richard I.

1290 - Jewish community expelled.

Synagogues Information

The ancient synagogue was believed located on a site that later became the Saracen's Inn.

Cemetery Information

There was a Jewish Cemetery in Canterbury in use from some time after 1177.

Articles on the Medieval Canterbury Community

Jewish Encyclopaedia article on Canterbury by Joseph Jacobs, c-1906.

Jewish Encyclopaedia article on Benjamin of Canterbury by Joseph Jacobs, c-1906

Jewish Residents of Canterbury prior to 1290


Modern Canterbury Community  

Ospringe, Kent

1190 -  Anti-Jewish attacks, which started in Lynn, Norfolk, spread to Ospringe.

Rochester, Kent.

1187 – Jews plea to the Lord of Rochester Castle for shelter in the castle, resulting in a number of Jewish families being permitted to live in the outer parts of the castle for several months.

Modern Rochester (& Chatham) Community



One of the six principal cities of medieval England and one of the original centres to have an archa. Several of the halls which formed the foundation of the University were owned by Jews.

Chronology of Events

1075 – First Jews settle in Oxford.

1141 – During the civil war between King Stephen and Matilda, Matilda imposes a levy on the Jews when she occupied the town,.  On Oxford’s recapture by King Stephen, he demands, by way of punishment for the Jews’ compliance, three and a half times as much.  The Jews are unwilling for comply, until he burns down the home of the Aaron fil’ Isaac.

1177 – Jews permitted to purchase land outside London.  Jews of Oxford purchase land for use as a cemetery.

1210 – Much of the property of Oxford Jews confiscated by King John.

1222 – A University deacon, Robert of Reading, converts to Judaism and marries a Jewess.  He is burnt alive.

1222 – Council of Oxford orders Jews to wear yellow star on all clothing.

1231 – New Jewish cemetery to the East of the town centre, on the west bank of the River Cherwell, was acquired by the Jews.

1244 – Jewish homes attacked and looted by Oxford students.

1244 – Jewish Loan Rate to students fixed by King Henry III at two pence in the pound per week.

1255 – Oxford sees influx of large number of Jews who converted to Christianity and receive a allowance of one and half pence per day.

1290 – All Jews expelled.  Jewish property granted to Provost of Wells.

Synagogues Information

In 1309, the former Synagogue in Great Jewry, later Fish Street (now St. Aldates), was converted into a tavern called “Broadyates’ (and from 1520 “Dolphin”).  It is now part of Christ Church.

Cemetery Information

Jews of Oxford purchase land in 1177 for use as a cemetery, known as “The Jews Garden”. Until this date the only Jewish cemetery was in London.

A new Jewish cemetery to the east of the town centre, outside the East Gate, on the west bank of the River Cherwell, was in use from 1231 until 1290.  It is now part of Magdalene College and was transferred to the opposite side of the road, now the Botanical Gardens.

Memorail Tablets

In 1931 memorial tablets to the medieval Jewish community were placed at the entrance to the Botanic Gardens, the site of a Jewish cemetery; at the Town Hall in St Aldates (Old Jewry); and at the ruins of Osney Abbey on Mill Street, near to where Haggai of Oxford, a Christian born believer in Judaism, was burnt for heresy in 1222.

Articles on the Medieval Oxford Community

Jewish Encyclopaedia article on Oxford by Joseph Jacobs, c-1906.

Oxford’s Forgotten Sons and Daughters,
(an giving the background to Medieval Jewish Oxford)

Jewish Residents of Oxford prior to 1290

Usual Websites

Oxford Jewish Heritage website at:

Other Information


Modern Oxford Community  


Dorking, Surrey

1278 – An Abraham of Dorking is recorded in the Jewish plea roll of Trinity term.

Modern Dorking Community

 Guildford, Surrey

1275 – Jewish expelled from lands of dowager Queen Eleanor, including Guildford.

Synagogue Information

In about 1180, it is believed that a synagogue was built in the present High Street, on the site which is now owned by Waterstone Booksellers. An archaeological dig in the High Street in1995 led to the discovery of the synagogue.

Jewish Residents of Guildford prior to 1290

Modern Guildford Community



1154-89 – Jewish community in Chichester believed to have started during reign of King Henry II.

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Researched, compiled and formatted for JCR-UK by David Shulman

Page created: 22 April 2005
Page most recently amended: 6 October 2023

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