© Marcus Roberts (1995 and 2005)

Key Dates

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1180 circa
The synagogue in the High Street is constructed. It is a small, vaulted, square building, set below ground level, with a number of colonnaded recesses, and made of stone with wood and tile floors as well as being richly decorated. It is the first building in the country to be decorated with indigo from the Orient, a fabulously rare and expensive pigment.
The presence of Jews is noted in the town by this date. There is a Tallage (tax) of 60,000 marks raised against the Jews of Guildford and the rest of the country.
In the first year of Richard I’s reign, Isaac the son of the rabbi' in Guildford is fined £200 as part of the levy on Guildford's Jews. It's a huge sum, but he pays most of it off the following year.
1241 - 1280
Isaac of Southwark, a rich and important Jew is recorded in Guildford. He lends money and was probably a Jewish official ('serviens Judeorum') at the Exchequer of the Jews. Another Jew, an Isaac of Southwark is mentioned in 1234, who could have been his father.
The Guildford synagogue is destroyed and the remains of the shell, some four feet high, is filled with its rubble. A silver penny is left, probably deliberately, between the stones of the bench-recess in the east wall, circa 1272-79. This may have been the site of an Ark.
Queen Eleanor of Provence, the wife of Henry III, is widowed and gains control of towns given as part of her dowry - these include Guildford.
Thomas son of Martin and William Haruwe break into Isaac of Southwark's house and steal his goods. Isaac's grandson (from his daughter Slema) is accused of being one of a gang of Jews who abducted and abused Juliana, a Jewish convert to Christianity.
Isaac's maternal uncle, also Isaac of Southwark, is dead by this year.
Queen Eleanor enters a nunnery and, feeling unable to profit from the Jews, expels them from her towns including Guildford.
Abraham, Floria, Josce and his wife, Formosa, all of Guildford are mentioned in the records.
Isaac of Southwark is dead by this date.
The remains of what is thought to be the synagogue are discovered by local archaeologists (John Boas, Mary Alexander and Kevin Fryer) under Principals menswear shop in the High Street.
There is a small modern Jewish community with around 175 members. Controversy rages as to whether the newly discovered chamber is the relic of a medieval synagogue.
The medieval chamber is preserved in refurbished premises, now Dillons bookstore. There are plans to place it under a glass floor in the future. The County Archaeologist does not accept it is a Jewish structure, but many leading Jewish history experts believe it is.
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