the former

Canterbury Synagogue

& Canterbury and District Jewish Community

Canterbury, Kent




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congregations throughout the British Isles and Gibraltar, both past and present.
NOTE: We are not the official website of this community or either of its congregations.

City of Canterbury

The historic cathedral city of Canterbury is in the local government district of the City of Canterbury in the county of Kent in southeast England. The district was formed in 1974 by the merger of the city of Canterbury (then a county borough) with adjoining areas. Canterbury city has a population of about 47,000, whereas the district, covering a much wider area, has a population of some 140,000.

Canterbury Jewish Community

There was an important Jewish community in Canterbury in the medieval period.

Some believe that the modern Jewish community is the second oldest community in Britain (after London), with Jews having settled there in significant numbers following resettlement in England in the seventeenth century, although definite data is available only from 1760. The community began to decline in the nineteenth and had become defunct by the mid-twentieth century.

By about the 1970s, Jews living in Canterbury and neighbouring areas, including Hythe and Whitstable, as well as Folkestone, formed themselves into a group for social and cultural events. 

Data on the Original Congregation


Canterbury Synagogue

Address of Former Synagogue:

King Street, Canterbury(iii)

Synagogue was built in 1847/8, in a quasi-Egyptian style, on the site of the former hospice of the medieval Knights Templar.(iv) The foundation stone was laid on 23 September 1847 by Sir Moses Montefiore, his chaplain Rev. Isaac Henry Myers giving the opening sermon,(v) and the synagogue was consecrated on 19 September 1848 by Chief Rabbi Dr. Nathan Marcus Adler.(vi) The building was restored in 1889.(vii)

The synagogue was sold in 1937.(x) Following sale, the building became St Alphege Church Hall and is now the music and rehearsal rooms of King's School(xi) and a Grade II Listed Building, listed on 7 September 1973 (number 1240866). View description on Historic England website.

Earlier Synagogue:

The earlier synagogue was in St. Dunstan's Street, Canterbury, from about 1762 until 1846, when it was demolished to make the approach to the new railway station.(xii)

Date Founded:

It has been asserted that the community was first established in about 1680, although the congregation dates from 1762.(xiii)


The congregation became defunct following the sale of the synagogue in 1937, although activities appear to have ceased some years previously.(xiv)


Ashkenazi Orthodox.


An independent provincial congregation under the aegis of the Chief Rabbi

Spiritual Leaders:(xvi)

Rev. Isaac Henry Myers officiated at weddings in Canterbury in and about the 1840s(xvii)

Rev. Judah Isaacs - reader and shochet 1840s to 1870s(xviii)

Rev. Abraham H. Eisenberg - minister/reader during 1870s(xix)

Rev. Alexander Schloss - minister/reader during mid 1880s(xx)

Rev. Israel Yellin - minister/reader in about 1888.(xxi)

Rev. E. M. Kreugal - minister/reader in about 1896.(xxii)

Various Lay Officers:


1842 - Nathaniel LazarusJoseph Barnett(xxiv)


at least 1873 to about 1917
Ald. Henry Hart, JP(xxv)

Hon. Secretaries

1842 - J. Jacobs(xxvi)

1873 - Edward E. Lyons(xxvii)

at least 1896-1918 - Samuel Nathan(xxviii)

1918-1934 - Philip T. Hart, OBE(xxix)

Membership Data:

Board of Deputies Returns (number of seatholders)(xxxii)















Other Sources (number of seatholders)

1842 - 14 full members, representing 30 families (Paper on Canterbury - 1975 Conference)

1845 - 8 ba'alai batim and 4 seatholders (Chief Rabbi's Questionnaire)

1896 - 4 (Jewish Year Book 1896/7)


Data on Current Communal Group


Canterbury and District Jewish Community

Previously Canterbury Jewish Community, until about 1987(xxxvii)


No fixed address, although the Community was able, from time to time, to use the old synagogue.(xxxviii)


The Community was formed to provide social and cultural events for Jewish residents of Canterbury and neighbouring areas.

Date Founded:

About the 1970s(xxxix)

Current Status:

Although the Community still exists, it appears that no services or other activities are planned for the foreseeable future.(xl)







1984-1987 - C. Rebuck

1987-1989 - Jeffrey Morris

1989-1996 - Irving Morris

1996-1998 - John Lipitch

1998-2000 - Prof G. Rickayzen

2000-2004 - V. Simmons


1984-1987 - Prof G. Rickayzen

1987-1991 - J. Shuman

1991-1995 - L. Rose

Hon. Secretaries

1984-1987 - Mrs. Z. Morris

1987-1996 - Mrs. R. Morris

1996-1999 - Mrs. L. Wein

1999-2004 - Miss P. Brown

Membership Data:

National Reports and Surveys(xliv)

1977 & 1983 - 11 male (or household) members and 7 female members

1990 & 1996 - 65 household members

Many of the members of the Community also belong or belonged to one of the other Jewish communities in Kent.


Search the All-UK Database

The records in the database associated with York include:

  • 1851 Anglo Jewry Database (updated 2016)

    • Individuals in the 1851 Anglo Jewry Database who were living in in Canterbury during the 1760s (2 records); 1770s (2 records), 1780s (6 records), 1790s (14 records), 1800s (10 records), 1810s (10 records); 1820s (22 records), 1830s (56 records), 1840s (105 records), 1850s (82 records), 1860s (37 records), 1870s (22 records), 1880s (7 records), 1890s (3 records) and 1900s (2 records).


Online Articles, Bibliography and Other Material
relating to the Canterbury Jewish Community


Some Notable Jewish Connections with Canterbury

  • Henry Hart (1833-1921), a successful businessman, philanthropist, public servant and long-serving president of Canterbury synagogue, was born in Canterbury and served three-times as mayor of the city, in 1869, 1870 and 1900/1.

  • Nathaniel Isaacs (1808-1872), English adventurer who played an important part in the history of Natal, South Africa, was born in Canterbury.

  • Joseph Jacobs (1813-1870), English magician, improvisatore and ventriloquist, known by the stage names of Jacobs the Wizard, was born in Canterbury.

  • Isaac Nathan (1791-1864), composer, musicologist and journalist, who has been called the "father of Australian music", was born in Canterbury.


Other Canterbury Jewish Institutions

  • Kent University Jewish Society - the Society is very active and, from  time to time, has used the old synnagogue.


Community Records

Registration District (BMD):

  • Canterbury (since 1 April 2003)

    • Previous registration districts: Canterbury from 1 July 1837 to 1 April 1998; and Canterbury with Swale from 1 April 1998 to 1 April 2003.

    • Any registers would now be held by the current register office

  • Link to Register Office website


Canterbury Jewish Cemetery Information

Canterbury had the following Jewish Cemeteries:

  • Canterbury Old Jews Burial Ground, Whitstable Road, Canterbury CT2. This old disused Jewish cemetery was opened in 1760, It was restored by the City Council and the Board of Deputies of British Jews in 2000 with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The cemetery lies behind the houses at the lower end of Whitstable Road with the entrance behind number 26.

  • There was a old Jewish Cemetery in Canterbury in use by Canterbury Medieval Jewish community from some time after 1177 until 1290.

For further information, see IAJGS Cemetery Project Canterbury


Canterbury Jewish Population


30 families

(Provincial Jewry in Victorian Britain, C. Roth)



(The Jewish Year Book 1896/7)


3 families

(The Jewish Year Book 1903/04)


24 families

(The Jewish Year Book 1985)



(The Jewish Year Book 1988)



(The Jewish Year Book 1992)



(The Jewish Year Book 2000)



(The Jewish Year Book 2004)


Notes & Sources
( returns to text above)

  • (i) and (ii) Reserved.

  • (iii) This address is listed in Jewish Year Books until 1934.

  • (iv) Sharman Kadish's Jewish Heritage in Britain and Ireland, p.78.

  • (v) Jewish Year Book 1904/5.

  • (vi) Section on Canterbury from The Rise of Provincial Jewry by Cecil Roth, 1950.

  • (vii) Sharman Kadish's Jewish Heritage in Britain and Ireland, p.79.

  • (viii) and (ix) Reserved.

  • (x) Jewish Year Book 1938.

  • (xi) Jewish Kent website, accessed 2024.

  • (xii) Section on Canterbury from The Rise of Provincial Jewry by Cecil Roth, 1950.

  • (xiii) Section on Canterbury from The Rise of Provincial Jewry by Cecil Roth, 1950.

  • (xiv) No contact details were provided in Jewish Year Books from 1938.

  • (xv) Reserved.

  • (xvi) The Jewish Year Book was first published in 1896/7 and never listed any minister or reader for the Canterbury congregation.

  • (xvii) Think and Thank, The Montefiore Synagogue and College, Ramsgate, Rev. D. A. Jessurun Cardozo, Paul Goodman, London, 1933.

  • (xviii) Census results 1841-1871 and Jewish Directory for 1874.

  • (xix) Jewish Chronicle reports including obituary of Rev. Eisenberg of 21 May 1920.

  • (xx) Jewish Chronicle reports including obituary and tributes of Rev. Schloss, 6 and 27 February 1925.

  • (xxi) Jewish Chronicle reports including Rev. Yellin's obituary 17 June 1927.

  • (xxii) Jewish Chronicle reports.

  • (xxiii) Reserved.

  • (xxiv) Section on Canterbury from The Rise of Provincial Jewry by Cecil Roth, 1950.

  • (xxv) Ald. Hart was listed as president in the Jewish Directory for 1874 and was still listed as president in the Jewish Year Books 1896/7 through 1917.

  • (xxvi) Section on Canterbury from The Rise of Provincial Jewry by Cecil Roth, 1950.

  • (xxvii) Mr Lyons was listed as hon. secretary in the Jewish Directory for 1874.

  • (xxviii) Mr Nathan was listed as hon. secretary of the congregation in the Jewish Year Books 1896/7 through 1918.

  • (xxix) Philip Hart was listed as hon. secretary of the congregation in the Jewish Year Books 1919 through 1934.

  • (xxx) and (xxxi) Reserved.

  • (xxxii) Paper on "Canterbury" from 1975 Conference on Provincial Jewry in Victorian Britain.

  • (xxxiii) and (xxxvi) Reserved.

  • (xxxvii) Listed as Canterbury Jewish Community in Jewish Year Books to 1987.

  • (xxxviii) Jewish Kent website, accessed 2024.

  • (xxxix) It was not listed in Jewish Year Books until 1985.

  • (xl) Jewish Small Communities Network website, accessed January 2024.

  • (xli) and (xlii) Reserved.

  • (xliii) Where a person is first listed in a year book as holding a particular office, it has been assumed that his term of office commenced in the year of publication of the relevant year book and that he continued in office until the commencement of office of his successor. From 1909, year books were published according to the Gregorian year, being published generally towards the end of the year prior to the year appearing in the title of the year book. For example, if an officer is listed in Jewish Year Books 1988 through 1994, it is assumed that he commenced office in 1987 and continued in office until 1994. However, it should be noted that this is only an assumption and, accordingly, his actual years of office may differ somewhat from those shown here.

  • (xliv) Reports on synagogue membership in the United Kingdom, published by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and which can be viewed on the website of the Institute of Jewish Policy Research. Click HERE for links to the various reports.

Jewish Congregations in Kent

Jewish Communities of England home page

Page created: 4 November 2005
Data significantly expanded and notes added: 19 January 2024
Page most recently amended: 24 January 2024

Research and formatting by David Shulman

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