Norwich Jewish Community

Norwich, Norfolk




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City of Norwich

The historic city of Norwich, situated on the river Wensum in East Anglia, has a population of over 125,000.  It was a county borough until 1974, when it became a local government district of the administrative county of Norfolk. In the medieval period, it was the second largest city in England, after London.

The Norwich Jewish Community

There was an important medieval Jewish community in Norwich. In modern times, the first Jewish settlement appears to date from as early as 1750.(vi) However, although the continuous record of the Norwich community appears to date only from the year 1813,(vii) there were organised Jewish congregations prior to that date about which little is known.

Jewish Congregations

The following are the Jewish congregations that exist or existed in Norwich in modern times:

* An active congregation.


Search the All-UK Database

The records in this database associated with Norwich include:

  • UK Jewish Communal Leaders Database - Norwich records:

    • Jewish Directory for 1874 and Jewish Year Book 1896/7 (records of 7 individuals); and

    • JCR-UK Listings (records of 108 individuals - as of the March 2024 update).

  • 1851 Anglo Jewry Database (as of the 2016 update):

    • Individuals in the who were living in:
      Norwich during the 1780s (2 records), 1790s (6 records), 1800s (11 records), 1810s (19 records); 1820s (43 records), 1830s (64 records), 1840s (106 records), 1850s (143 records), 1860s (43 records), 1870s (23 records), 1880s (12 records), 1890s (6 records), 1900s (2 records) and 1910s (1 record); and
      Wymondham during the 1800s (1 record) and 1850s (3 records).


Online Articles and Other Material
relating to the Norwich Jewish Community


on third parties' websites

Notable Jewish Connections with Norwich
(courtesy Steven Jaffe)

  • Medieval Period

    • The first recorded Blood Libel against the Jews took place in Norwich in 1144 and has been the subject of a number of books and articles, including The Murder of William of Norwich by E M Rose (2015).

    • In 2004 the bones of seventeen individuals, eleven of them children, were discovered in the remains of a well in Norwich during the construction of the Chapelfield shopping centre. In 2014, after long negotiations, the bones were buried at the Jewish cemetery in Norwich. Jewish and Christian clergymen participated, in recognition that despite DNA testing establishing markers consistent with Ashkenazi Jews, their identity could not be conclusively proven.  A plaque to their memory can be seen at the Chapelfield Shopping Centre, Norwich. (BBC News Article of 19 March 2013, entitled "Jewish bones burial an 'historic event' says community" and see video above).

    • For medieval residents of Norwich - click HERE.

  • Dr Peter Prinsley, a consultant ENT surgeon based in Norfolk, was elected Labour MP for the new constituency, Bury St Edmunds and Stourbridge, in the 2024 general election. He is married to Dr. Marian Prinsley, a president of Norwich Hebrew Congregation who was Sheriff of Norwich from 2019 to 2020.

  • Sir Arthur Michael Samuel, first Lord Mancroft (1872-1942), Conservative MP and government minister. From a family that claimed residence in Norwich for many decades (his father was Benjamin Samuel, long-time treasurer and secretary of the Hebrew congregation, and his mother was Rosetta, daughter of Philip Haldinstein, a former president of the congregation), he was Lord Mayor of Norwich from 1912 to 1913 and was made an Honorary Freeman of the City of Norwich in 1928. In 1937 he was raised to the peerage as Lord Mancroft (referring to the area around St Peter Mancroft church) in the City of Norwich.(xi)

  • Arnold Wesker (1932-2016) playwright, his inspiration for his 1957 play The Kitchen, which was later made into a film, came when he was working at the Bell Hotel in Norwich. He lived in East Anglia and both his Jewish and East Anglian identity informed many of his plays and writings.


Other Norwich Jewish Institutions & Organisations

Social & Cultural

  • Old Boys Debating Society (initially The Joseph Old Boys Debating Society) - founded 1906.(xxi)

  • Hebrew Men's Social Club - founded by 1908.(xxii)

  • Norwich Jewish Arts and Cultural Society (JACS) - founded 1980.(xxiii)

Welfare Organisations & Friendly Societies

  • Saturday and Sunday Hospital Fund - founded 1896(xxv)

  • Ladies Friendly Society - founded 1901 or 1908(xxvi)

  • Jewish Young Men's Mutual Improvement Society (reformed in 1895)(xxvii)

Zionist & Other Israel Organisations

  • Chovevei Zion Tent - founded by 1897.(xxx)

  • Zionist and Literary Society - founded by 1918.(xxxi)

  • Jewish National Fund Commission - founded by 1927.(xxxii)

  • Norwich Israel and Social Society (previously the Norwich Zionist and Social Society until c.1987) - founded 1940s.(xxxiii)

  • Zionist Literary and Social Centre - founded by 1946.(xxxiv)


  • Norfolk & Norwich Committee for Refugees - founded in about 1939. The committee brought out of Germany and Austria 90 refugee children. Several members of the community hosted refugee children  in their own homes.(xxxvii)

  • Norfolk and Norwich Branch of the Association of Christians and Jews - founded by 1989.(xxxviii)


Community Records

  • Registration District (for BMD):  Norwich (since 1 July 1837)


Norwich Jewish Cemeteries Information

The following are the known Jewish cemeteries that existed in Norwich:

  • Norwich Medieval Jewish Burial Ground
    Exact whereabouts unknown, but close to the ancient synagogue. In use from some time after 1177 until 1290.

  • Norwich Old Jews Burial Ground, Horns Lane, corner Ber Street (near Mariners' Lane), Norfolk.
    Only vestiges remain of this cemetery, which was opened in about 1750 and closed in 1826. The exact location (at the rear of 34 Ber Street) is uncertain. (Roth refers to Ber Street and Mariners' Lane as being different burial grounds, but this appears to be an error.).
    See Letter to the Editor (on JCR-UK), regarding this burial grounds in Norwich, which appeared in The Jewish Chronicle of 22 April 1842.

  • Quakers Lane Jews' Burial Ground (also known as Gildencroft Jewish Cemetery), St Crispin's Road (corner Talbot Square), off Quakers Lane (Oak Street), Norwich
    Opened in 1813 and in use until 1854. No records have survived and none of the surviving headstones are legible.

  • Norwich City Cemetery, Jewish Section (also known as Earlham Road Jewish Cemetery), Bowthorpe Road, Norwich
    This cemetery, of the Norwich Hebrew Congregation, dates from 1856 and is still in use.  It is accessible from Earlham Road.
    The Earlham Road Cemetery (including the Jewish Cemetery) has been a Grade II* Registered Park and Garden, since 5 December 2001 (number 1001560). See Historic England listing and description.
    The Ohel at the cemetery (circa 1856) is a Grade II Listed Building, listed on 15 March 2016 (number 1412670). See Historic England listing and description.

(For additional information, see IAJGS Cemetery Project - Norwich)


Norwich Jewish Population Data



(The Jewish Year Book 1896/7)



(The Jewish Year Book 1897/8)



(The Jewish Year Book 1918)



(The Jewish Year Book 1922)



(The Jewish Year Book 1940)



(The Jewish Year Book 1953)



(The Jewish Year Book 1963)



(The Jewish Year Book 2004)


Notes & Sources
( returns to text above)


  • (i) to (v) Reserved.

  • (vi) Cecil Roth's section on Norwich - "by the beginning of the second half of the eighteenth century", corroborated by a report in the Norwich Mercury of 1 June 1754 (Provincial Jewry section on Norwich, second paragraph).

  • (vii) Cecil Roth's section on Norwich.

  • (viii) to (x) Reserved.

  • (xi) The Jewish Chronicle of 18 October 1912 reported: "The selection of Mr. A. M. Samuel to be the next Lord Mayor of Norwich raises the interesting question whether the Samuel family may not have remained in Norwich throughout the whole period of the Expulsion and are thus probably the oldest Jewish family in England. The theory, which obtained the support of the late Myer Davis, has behind it a strong family tradition. In the house belonging to the Samuels in Dove Street, Market Place, there is an underground cellar of Norman architecture, which it is suggested was used as a secret place of worship during the time that the Jews were banished from the realm. The cellar was actually used as a synagogue by Mr. Samuel's father and grandfather, and was only abandoned when a more suitable place of worship was acquired."

  • (xii) to (xx) Reserved.

  • (xxi) Jewish Year Book 1906/7 gives this as the year of founding.

  • (xxi) First listed in Jewish Year Book 1909.

  • (xxiii) "History" article on the Norwich Hebrew Congregation's website.

  • (xxiv) Reserved.

  • (xxv) Jewish Year Book 1906/7 gives this as the year of founding.

  • (xxvi) Jewish Year Book 1918 gives 1901 as the year of founding, whereas the 1909 issue gives 1908 as the year of founding.

  • (xxvii) First listed in Jewish Year Book 1896/7.

  • (xxviii) and (xxix) Reserved.

  • (xxx) First listed in Jewish Year Book 1897/8.

  • (xxxi) First listed in Jewish Year Book 1919.

  • (xxxii) First listed in Jewish Year Book 1928.

  • (xxxiii) The "History" article on the Norwich Hebrew Congregation's website refers to this society as first publishing The Brochure in the late 1940s, or even earlier.

  • (xxxiv) First listed in Jewish Year Book 1947.

  • (xxxv) and (xxxvi) Reserved.

  • (xxxvii) The Norwich Hebrew Congregation 1940-1960 - A Short History by Henry Levine, 1961, p.24. A similar society had been formed some years earlier, but be came defunct.

  • (xxxviii) First listed in Jewish Year Book 1990.

Jewish Congregations in Norfolk

Jewish Communities of England home page

Page created: 21 August 2005
Latest revision or update: 12 July 2024

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