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JTrails Jewish Heritage Tour of Norwich, Northampton and Lincoln

Date: 22/06/2015

One of the high-lights of our Jewish heritage tourism year was organising an extended three day tour of some of the high-lights of Jewish heritage in England, with the Cheshire Unity Lodge of Manchester. We travelled through Norwich, Northampton and Lincoln staying over-night in each place and then taking a walk through the Jewish history, heritage and sights of each location.

At Norwich, on our first evening, we were treated to a wonderful evening of Jewish choral music at the modern Earlham Road Synagogue and met the community. The next day we visited the Cathedral and examined the story and relics of the Norwich Blood Libel, the first in Europe. We then walked through the medieval Jewish quarter of Norwich and saw the site of the medieval synagogue. We also saw the house that was used as the Regency synagogue in 1828, in quaintly named 'Tomblands' (pictured above). Then, despite a biblical deluge of rain, we went to visit in-side the atmospheric under-under croft of Jurnet's House, one of the only surviving medieval Jewish houses in England.

At Northampton we saw the only surviving medieval Jewish tombstone in England at the museum - a tombstone originally re-identified by JTrails Director, Marcus Roberts in the early 1990s and then recounted, as we passed the 'Shoe Town' displays, how Northampton Jews were founders of the Victorian boot and shoe industry of Northampton. At Sheep Street we saw the art-work, installations and commemorative plaque at the new Bus Concourse to celebrate the site of the medieval Jewry under the development. JTrails was instrumental in these art-works and the plaque being installed. Then walking a few short yards, members of the group were treated to a tour of the cellars of the Bear Inn, to see massive medieval stone-work which was part of the medieval synagogue discovered in our radar survey of the property next door, or an adjoining Jewish house. This followed with a walk to the site of the medieval cemetery, at Temple Bar, where we know from our archaeological work, the remains of some of Northampton's medieval Jews still lie.

Onwards to Lincoln, we spent the next morning exploring the new Jewish heritage trail of the Cathedral and saw the remarkable influence that the local Jewish community had on the very fabric of the church. Some of this heritage from the trail was featured in Simon Schama's, 'The Story of the Jews' documentary series, to which JTrails was a consultant. After, we took the city Jewish heritage JTrail and saw three of the medieval Jew's houses that make this city a key location for medieval Anglo-Jewish heritage and tourism in England. This included the Jew's House, one of the oldest domestic dwellings in England and Jews' Court, the site of the medieval synagogue. At Jews' Court we went upstairs to the famous Upper Room to see the modern synagogue (LJC) and the room believed by Anglo-Jewish historian, Cecil Roth, to be the medieval synagogue. We also went into the Collection - the local award winning museum - and saw several medieval Jewish artefacts identified by JTrails Director, Marcus Roberts, since he started the Lincoln Jewish heritage project with LJC in 2007. This included the Lincoln Lamp - a Jewish ritual oil-lamp, almost certainly from the medieval synagogue, which is one of only a very small numbers of examples in Europe and is one of the oldest Jewish ritual artefacts in Europe. The tour concluded with a wonderful lunch at the Jew's House Restaurant, cooked by one of the best chefs in Lincoln.

JTrails organises regular walking tours and coach tours of Jewish heritage locations in England for groups and works with other leading Jewish Heritage guides in promoting Jewish heritage tourism and tours (tel: 07429 018962).

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