Posted on 21 August 2023
The massacre of York’s Jews in 1190 has overshadowed the fact that from the 1210s onwards there was once more a thriving Jewish community living and working in the city in mostly harmonious relations with their Christian neighbours.
Now a team from the University of York’s Heritage360 Streetlife project has undertaken new research on the “forgotten story of York’s medieval Jewish community.”
Based on new archival evidence, the team have created digital reconstructions of the houses where the chief Jewish citizens of York lived.
They have also identified the location of York’s first synagogue and how leading figures from the Jewish community cooperated with the senior clergy of York Minster in purchasing the large stone building which became the city’s Guildhall.
Key findings from the project include:
Dr Louise Hampson, project lead at the University of York, said “The digital reconstructions offer an accessible visual interpretation of how the Jewish community lived side-by-side with their Christian neighbours, including on York’s most high-status medieval street.”
Dr John Jenkins, researcher on the project, added: “The research brought to light the ways in which Jews and Christians worked together for the common good of the city, playing a key role in the acquisition of the civic Guildhall as well as in the rebuilding of York Minster, both of which remain important civic assets to this day.”
Howard Duckworth, Warden of the York Synagogue, said: "The amount of new information that has been uncovered by the team is truly inspiring and has now been recognised by Jews, not only in the UK, but across the world.
“We have discovered a totally new history of Jews in York, which for many years has been overshadowed by the massacre at Clifford's Tower. This research is so much more, a real history anyone can relate to. When you walk through York now, you see York with totally different eyes, thanks to the team for all their work.”
An attendee of a recent workshop connected to the project said: "The research is very exciting, it's really changed my understanding.
“The identification of the likely sites of the synagogues is so important and makes York a very important place when we are thinking about our scholars from the past".
The digital models are available to view on a touchscreen in the project’s ‘Streetlife Hub’ on 29-31 Coney Street, York, until February 2024, together with an exhibition on the street’s Jewish history.
A video of the models can also be seen as an installation in the window of Fabrication, 19 Coney Street.
Online information (https://streetlifeyork.uk/projects/jewish-coney-street) currently consists of an overview of the project and an interactive trail of Jewish York (https://streetlifeyork.uk/explore/trails/298).
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Tuesday 13 February 2024
A team from the University of York’s Heritage360 Streetlife project has undertaken new research on the “forgotten story" of York’s medieval Jewish community. https://streetlifeyork.uk/projects/jewish-coney-street)