Map of Search Results
Lincoln
Marcus Roberts

Places of interest

Bookmark this page |  E-mail this page to a friend

Lincoln Cathedral
Lincoln Castle
The Bishop's Palace
The site of Aaron of Lincoln House and Property -- 26 -- 34 Steep Hill, Castle Hill and Lincoln Castle
The Norman House - 46 & 47, Steep Hill
Jews' Court, the Site of the Medieval Synagogue - Steep Hill
'Jew's House' - no. 15 the Strait and 1 Steep Hill
Medieval Jewish Artifacts - The Collection, Danes Terrace
Cardinal's Hat -- 268 High Street / Grantham Street
Grantham Street (Brauncegate)
Flaxengate
Hungate - site of the second scola (synagogue) -- Garmston House, 262 and 262 a. High Street
The Shop of Daniel Cohen (Watchmaker and Jeweler) -- 2 Silver Street
Miscellaneous Sites


1. Lincoln Cathedral

The Cathedral is remarkably rich in Jewish associations and it clearly demonstrates, to the careful observer, that there was much more to the relationship between Cathedral and Jews than simple hostility. It is even claimed by a host of historians that the present (rebuilt) Cathedral, was raised with loans provided by Aaron of Lincoln, who funded many major religious buildings and Cathedrals. He certainly did loan the money to build the Bishop's Palace, though I have yet to see the original documents supporting his loan for the larger building project, though if he did, it would have been in the last year of his life.

One other surprising features of the Cathedral, is its many rich art works, depicting Jews and Jewish tradition. As is the case in a number of the great cathedrals in the north of England, the attitudes towards Jews and Jewish tradition displayed, covers a spectrum from positive or benign, to troubled and hostile, with the most controversial images usually coinciding with the period in the 13th century when there was increasing hostility towards the Jews sponsored by elements of the Church in Rome and England.

The Cathedral is rich in art and sculpture depicting the Old Testament in particular and there seems to be a particular love of the Old Testament material evidenced. Other sculpture and glasswork is based on Christian legends about Jews and Christian theological ideas about Judaism, some of which are linked to the remains of the shrine of Little Hugh. There are also depictions of non-Biblical and contemporary Jews and most remarkably there is sculpture based on Jewish legends, apparently both direct from Jewish tradition as well as through assimilation into Christian tradition, which is an exceptional, even unique feature and probably demonstrates that the Cathedral did at times have a genuine and remarkable theological interchange with the Jewish community.

It is unwise to rush to any generalizations about the representations of Jews, though it is clear in the case of Lincoln that the evolution of the fabric and iconography of Lincoln Cathedral was in a very real way influenced by the relationships between Jews and Christians, and the fabric of the Cathedral was literally sensitive to the impress of its times, even to the presence of a numerically small group of local Jews.

In terms of other Jewish interest in the Cathedral, there are also to be found shrines and tombs of Christians who were important in medieval Jewish history, both philo-Semitic and anti-Semitic. The Cathedral has a copy of the Magna Carta which, it can be noted, specifically refers to medieval Jews in two of its clauses. The areas of Jewish interest are mostly concentrated on the south side of the Cathedral, where the builders choose to place much of the Old Testament imagery.

The Frieze on the West Front -- The Bosom of Abraham

To the west of the central door of the West Front (i.e. to left of the central door) is a newly restored panel showing the 'Bosom of Abraham' which is between the 'Harrowing of Hell' and the 'Story of Dives and Lazarus' in a corner. This scene, in which Abraham holds the souls of the dead before him, in a fold of cloth, with new souls being delivered by angels, draws on the Jewish tradition of Abraham being the gate-keeper to heaven, which had been drawn into Christian thought. Its position between the 'Harrowing of Hell', where the saved souls are being brought out of Hell by Christ, and the 'Story of Dives and Lazarus', where Abraham is mentioned in the story of Dives, in a heavenly context confirms its use of Abraham of the traditional gate-keeper of Heaven.

The Frieze on the West Front - Jewish legends in Christianity

Standing before the central main entrance, in the Western frontage of the cathedral there are the remains of a frieze inserted into the frontage of the old Cathedral, built by Bishop Remigius (1067-1092). This frieze is remarkable as it preserves elements of Jewish legends among its sculptures and dates from about 1145.

The frieze from the central door southwards (i.e. to towards the right of the central door, when looking at the frontage) depicts the Old Testament narrative from the Creation onwards, in chronological order. Much has now gone; the first section that survives is of the Expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. Some of these panels cannot be seen as present as they have been cased in for conservation reasons, but it is anticipated that high-definition photographs will be placed directly on the casings, in situ, to enable a degree of appreciation of the originals.

The panel does not show the labours of Adam and Eve as is usual in Christian iconography. Instead two mysterious men, one older and one younger, are to be seen. The first digs with a spade, the second uses a hoe and plants can be seen growing upwards. The final element of the panel is the hand of God reaching down from Heaven with a small bag with unknown contents.

The answer to the puzzle of this strange scene is provided by an ancient Jewish legend dating back to between 1st and 4th century. This relates that, after the Expulsion, Adam and Eve were given seeds to grow for food as well as a gift of perfume. Thus the frieze shows Adam (the older man) tilling the ground with his son Cain (the classic Biblical agrarian) and being given the gift of seeds and perhaps perfume by God.

Jewish tradition still keeps the idea of perfume as a comfort for the soul. In the Havdalah service, which concludes the Jewish Shabbat, the sniffing of spices from the small spice 'tower' is said to be a direct comfort and compensation to the soul for having descended back to the mundane sphere after the spiritual elevation of the Sabbath.

This essentially Jewish legend (identified by G. Zarnecki) crops up at Lincoln as it had entered the Christian mainstream through a Greek (and Latin) text, The Life of Adam and Eve.

The Giants at the Flood

The second element drawn from Jewish tradition is equally mysterious. In following the frieze around the corner on the south wall of the frontage, the first panel relating to the story of the Flood is reached. This shows the building of the Ark. The main interest is in the second and third of the Flood sequence which are now to be found, displaced, now within the Ringer's Chapel on the southwest corner. As one enters the Ringer's Chapel the panel is behind one's shoulder to the right, high up on the wall, on a level with a gallery. It can be seen adequately from floor level, if you have good eye-sight, but it is best seen from the gallery, which may not find favour with some visitors, due to the climb up the stairs to the gallery which is rather high up. The panel can presently only be seen on the 'roof-top' tour of the Cathedral, or on other tours, or by special arrangement as the chapel is usually locked.

The second of these scenes shows three men, with rising floodwaters lapping at their legs, reaching up to nearly submerged trees. At the furthest left the figure has a 'strongman belt', with a prominent disc, which was used to show those supernaturally gifted with strength. This denotes that all the men are Giants.

Such a Flood scene is unique, according to Zarnecki, and is a dramatic working of a Jewish legend written down in the 9th and 10th century. These men represent the Giants of Genesis 6.4, the supernatural spawn of an illicit union between angels and the daughters of man. They had escaped the destruction already suffered by mere mortals, who had tried in their desperation to get into the Ark. The legend relates that these people were drowned have been repulsed by wild animals in the Ark.

The Giants, however, were too tall to drown and therefore mocked the threat of God's judgment, either by the waters above or below, as they thought themselves immortal. God's response was to make each drop of water of the deluge pass through the fires of Gehenna (Hell), before they fell to the Earth. Thus the Giants were scalded to death, from above and below, as a punishment for their temerity and in an echo of the hot lusts that had given originally caused the illicit conjugation of the angels with the daughters of men.

The transmission of this scene to Lincoln's stones is much more difficult to explain than the first. It does not seem to have been assimilated into the Christian mainstream before hand, as was the Expulsion legend. This leaves an enigma, suggesting, perhaps, a personal contact between the designer of the frieze and the scholars of the Jewish community?

The Shrine of Little Hugh -- St Hugh's Choir

The remains of the shrine to Little Hugh, the alleged victim of the Lincoln 'blood libel', are in the aisle to the south of ('Great') St Hugh's Choir (or the South Choir) and is set in the south choir isle against the choir screen.

The original plinth and rear support of the shrine survive. There are also the two broken stumps of ribs at the back that made what would have been part of a panel at the side of a small side arch forming the upper structure of the shrine. There are still visible traces of rich green and blue pigment used to decorate parts of the shrine. At the end of the last century it is said there were remnants of gilding as well.

A pierced, base of the shrine has gone, along with an ornate canopy with tall side pinnacles, niches, and another decorative finial with a niche. This was all removed in the Civil War. It seems that there was also a figure of Little Hugh in the shrine.

Overall the shrine was a tall monument, at least up to the top of the choir wall, if not higher.

In 1736 the painted, freestone figure of a little boy, about 20 inches high, still existed and was noted by an antiquarian. It was by tradition part of the original shrine. The figure was supposed to have had the marks of crucifixion. The head had by that stage been broken off. It had been moved from the shrine and was in, 'a by-place just behind the High Altar, where we found it covered with dust and obscurity'.

In 1791, the tomb was opened and the remains of Hugh were found in a stone coffin below the shrine and seen for the first time since the middle ages. The boy was apparently four feet and two inches tall and was thought to have a rather long thin face. No doubt modern forensic work might have been able to say something about the cause of his death, if it had been available in the period, though we do know that his teeth had not been smashed as alleged in the blood libel stories.

A careful examination of the surroundings of the shrine shows other significant features. The shrine is well integrated with the screen wall of the choir and looks as if it had been carefully planned and positioned to be a focus of the aisle in which it stands. It by no means looks as though it was carelessly thrust into a pre-existing design. The fact that the broken ribs are part of a continuous blind Gothic arcading running the length of the screen wall suggests that it was contemporary with the decoration of the rest of the wall.

Overall, the evidence shows that the shrine of Little Hugh was a major feature of the south side of the Cathedral. While the remains of the shrine in the modern day make it look deceptively minor there is little doubt it was very much more impressive in its original state.

The status and medieval meaning of the shrine is also indicated by nearby symbolic figures that would have been obvious to the medieval pilgrim. On entering the gate to the south aisle, from the nave, there is a highly decorated capital on the left, at the threshold. Easily visible, on the capital, are two very sweet-looking owls, looking down at passers-by.

These owls have a specific Jewish meaning. They are almost certainly 'Night Owls' ('Noctua' in medieval bestiaries) as distinct from common Owls ('Bubo'). Here they refer to represent the redemption of a Christ who chose to be born a Jew, though he was killed by Jews and seeks out all sinners, including Jews. The medieval Aberdeen Bestiary says this of the Night Owl.

'In a mystic sense, the night-owl signifies Christ. Christ loves the darkness of night because he does not want sinners - who are represented by darkness - to die but to be converted and live. ... The night-owl lives in the cracks in walls, as Christ wished to be born one of the Jewish people... But Christ is crushed in the cracks of the walls, because he is killed by the Jews. ... Christ shuns the light in the sense that he detests and hates vainglory. ... In a moral sense, moreover, the night-owl signifies to us not just any righteous man, but rather one who lives among other men yet hides from their view as much as possible. He flees from the light, in the sense that he does not look for the glory.'

Elsewhere, the alternative, is the use of the common Owl (Bubo) which is a virulent anti-Semitic image, representing the spiritual blindness of the Jews, shunning of the light of the Gospels. Common Owls are often shown with large hooked nose like beaks (a deliberate medieval Jewish stereo-type) and were said to live in their own filth (another anti-Semitic stereotype) and are shown being attacked by other (Christian) birds.

The use of Night Owls, in the immediate context of the Shrine of Little Hugh, is most interesting and by the standards of its times, and given the context of the shrine, moderate, even enlightened, when it would have been easy to have recourse to the absolutely hostile image of the common Owl. This impression is reinforced by reference to the other (repeated figures) on the same column where the owls occur, which appear to be that of the 'Jaculus', the winged serpent, another medieval symbol of the redemptive power of Christ. In relation to the shrine these images seem to be offered more in sadness than anger.

It must be remembered that in the largely illiterate medieval world, religious symbols and figures played an important role for the worshipper or pilgrim. They evoked often complex stories and narratives, religious and theological ideas which not would have been readily understood by otherwise illiterate worshippers. Even small parish churches are often replete with whole series of figures throughout the building based on Bible themes or even aspects of Classical pagan mythology that had acquired specific Christian meanings.

More symbolism with Jewish reference is to be found in the Judgment Porch on the south of the Angel Choir. Medieval pilgrim probably passed through the porch on various routes through the Cathedral, to shrines, such as the shrine of Little Hugh and 'Great' St Hugh of Avalon, in the Angel Choir and elsewhere. In this porch is a life-size female figure representing the Church triumphant. She stands on plinth, which may depict an angel. Opposite, on the other side of the porch is the figure of defeated Synagogue, who is held up on the back of a figure of a bearded medieval Jew, complete with the Jewish badge of the Middle Ages, the double tablets of the Law, on his breast. Thus, for the medieval pilgrim following this route, they would have seen reassuring and triumphal Christian imagery relating to the spiritual victory of the Church over the Synagogue, this symbolism being a theological rebuke to Jews and Judaism. However, the fact that Synagogue, is depicted in the place of honour to the right of Christ in the porch, is a nuance that is important to note and theologically, probably alludes to the theology of St. Paul that the Church is 'in-grafted' into the 'true vine' of Israel.

The cathedral has over many years placed a short notice by the shrine of Little Hugh, to explain the shrine, though it is easy for the casual visitor to completely miss the shrine. The notice has its own history and has evolved over the years.

Before 1959 a notice largely repeated the traditional libel. But in 1959 it was replaced by the then Dean, the Rev D.C. Dunlop, who was reported by the Daily Telegraph as saying that the Chapter did not wish, 'to see things that are untrue up on the walls of the Cathedral' and that a new notice would correct the record. This new notice, withdrawing the libel, remained in place for a good many years, but in recent years has been revised as not entirely satisfactory from the point of view of the Jewish (and Christian) community. At the time of writing, in July 2008, the notice is being entirely re-written in collaboration between the Lincoln Jewish community, the Cathedral, JTrails and Elisa van Court; the latter who initiated the re-interpretation in 1997. The new notice is the fruit of excellent inter-faith relations and is an important symbol of the real dialogue and understanding that has occurred in more recent years.

The Angel Choir - site of the Shrine of St Hugh of Avalon

The site of the shrine and burial place of St Hugh of Avalon, the friend of the Jews, is in the Angel Choir, in the east end of the cathedral. The remains of the saint were translated there in 1280, but the head shrine was removed in the Reformation, just leaving its ornate base, which can still be seen in situ to day. A modern shrine takes the place, of the head shrine. The actual position of the saint's remains and the original 'body' shrine, is thought to be marked by a near-by18th century table-top tomb. The so-called Dean's Eye window, the rose window in the north transept recently fully restored, includes two roundels, one showing what is thought to be Bishop Hugh's funeral (where the local Jews were said to have publicly mourned the bishop).

Also in the east end of the Cathedral are other tombs of Christians who were in significant to Jewish history. One contains the viscera of Queen Eleanor who was an enemy of medieval Anglo-Jews, playing a role in their persecution, both in Lincoln and throughout the realm.

The tomb of Bishop Grosseteste is also in the Choir area. In Oxford, he was the Chancellor of the University and first Lector of the Dominicans. In both capacities he was in contact with the Jewish community and intervened in the life of the community, sometimes approving of repressive measures against Jewish communities, even while a keen Hebraist.

Miracles of the Virgin - Theophilus and the Virgin, the miracle of the Jewish boy of Bourges

Other stained glass of Jewish interest includes the windows depicting the miracles of the Virgin, which are in the east window of the north choir aisle. These date from the first half of the 13th century and coincide with a period where the Jews were increasingly persecuted and linked with the Anti-Christ. The first miracle (which is very commonly depicted in Europe) shows a Jew as part of a complex story. In the legend, Theophilus, an archdeacon in Asia Minor, having declined to be made a bishop, changed his mind and entered into a pact with the Devil, in the form of a Jewish wizard, to reverse his decision. Struck by remorse at his action, Theophilus changed his mind again and the Virgin miraculously not only convinced God to forgive him but she also descended into Hell and persuaded the Devil to renounce the pact.

In addition to the miracle of Theophilus, Lincoln Cathedral uniquely illustrates, in another 13th Century window, an old anti-Semitic fable, representing a less well-known miracle of the Virgin. This legend recounts that a Jewish glassmaker of Bourges, enraged to discover that his son had attended church and communion, threw him into a furnace; but the boy was saved by miraculous intervention of the Virgin. The Jew is shown with a pointed red hat, typical of medieval Jews, though the use of the red in the hat is being used to denote evil. In the oven scene, he is shown pitching his struggling son into the oven, who is shown with little thin red legs. In 13th century England, and indeed Lincoln, there was increasing conversions of Jews and there were real tensions between Jews and converted Jews who often still lived in their midst.

The Cathedral provides information to assist with the precise locations of all the stained glass as a binder with information on all the glass can be consulted at the Cathedral Information Desk in the north transept.
Top

2. Lincoln Castle

The Castle itself is of specific Jewish interest since it provided an official refuge for Jews in troubled periods and the Jews were under the official protection of the Constable of the castle. Furthermore, the Jewish community was administered by officials at the Castle, usually the Constable and the Sheriff, with the official financial records of the community being kept in the Chirograph chest at the Castle and which could only be accessed when certain Jewish and Christian officials and witnesses were present.

The Jewish community took shelter in the Castle in 1190, when they were attacked by returning Crusaders. However, a contemporary chronicler reported that the local Jews got wind of the attack in advance and headed for the castle with their money; consequently when the attackers arrived the wind went out of their attack soon on when it was clear that there was little to be looted.

Lincoln Castle also normally houses and displays the copy of the 1215 Lincoln Magna Carta in the Victorian prison building of the Castle.
Top

3. The Bishop's Palace

The Bishop's Palace is south down the hill of the Cathedral and is managed by English Heritage. It is documented in a contemporary chronicle that Chesney built the extensive Palace with money, a loan of £300, borrowed from Aaron of Lincoln, money which also contributed to his building of a Bishop's residence in London on the site of the Old Temple of the Knights Templar. This was thought to be one of his first loans and was secured on church plate and ornaments and had to be redeemed by one of his successors. The Palace complex is 12th century fortress and impressive cleric's home. It was also one of the most important buildings in the country as it was used to administer the 'super' diocese of medieval Lincoln which took in a vast swath of the country from the Humber to the Thames. The earliest record of the site was in a charter from the reign of King Stephen, 1135 -1138 when there may have been some sort of residence on the site. Chesney purchased the land and started building in c.1155. He built a hall range over an undercroft on the east side of the site (the Kitchen Court), though historians say that only the south wall can be, 'firmly attributed to Chesney' with Bishop Hugh taking over. Recent archeology shows that of the South Wall only a few elements actually date from Chesney's building work, as much was destroyed by the earth-quake in 1185. The surviving portions are thought to be the guardrobe at the eastern corner of the south wall, some of the footings between the guardrobe and the Kitchen Range and part of the south wall of the Kitchen Range itself. The Palace was then built in four phases, The Palace was sacked during the Civil War and then abandoned. It is accessed off Minster Yard, near the Cathedral.

The Magna Carta

Lincoln Cathedral owns one of the original copies of the Magna Carta of 1215; the copy is usually on display to the public at the Castle, though at the time of writing it has been on display at the Cathedral. The Magna Carta is widely cited to be the basis of our 'unwritten' constitution, in so far it makes the following declaration of rights:
No freeman shall be taken, nor imprisoned, nor disseized, nor outlawed, nor exiled, nor destroyed in any manner; nor will we pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by the lawful judgment of his peers, or by the law of the land. We will sell to none, we will deny nor delay to none right and justice.

In reality, its significance is largely to do with the struggle between the crown and barons -- it represented a temporary truce between the two warring sides. It had little to do with the mass of the population (for whom the contemporary Forest Charter of 1217 was of considerably greater importance, though it did develop clauses in the Magna Carta) but it did, crucially, recognize that there might be limits to the king's powers. This is the source of its importance to the development of our representative democracy. As for the Jews, the document was designed to prevent Jewish financiers taking land as forfeit for unpaid debts in particular circumstances. In reality, though, some of these debts may have been actually owed to the Crown, although ostensibly held by Jews. It would seem that the King was using the management of debts as a means of curbing baronial power and as a way of disenfranchising, or threatening to disenfrachise some of them. The sub-text of the clauses was that barons' need to borrow money sometimes left them heavily indebted, thus risking the loss of the lands that were the basis of their power.

Clauses 10 and 11, are the Jewish clauses of the Magna Carta.

(10) If anyone who has borrowed a sum of money from Jews dies before the debt has been repaid, his heir shall pay no interest on the debt for so long as he remains under age, irrespective of whom he holds his lands. If such a debt falls into the hands of the Crown, it will take nothing except the principal sum specified in the bond.
(11) If a man dies owing money to Jews, his wife may have her dower and pay nothing towards the debt from it. If he leaves children that are under age, their needs may also be provided for on a scale appropriate to the size of his holding of lands. The debt is to be paid out of the residue, reserving the service due to his feudal lords. Debts owed to persons other than Jews are to be dealt with similarly.

The fact that the Jewish clauses are little known in what is arguably our most famous historical document is illustrative of how the Jewish narrative in our national history has been muted.
Top

4. The site of Aaron of Lincoln House and Property -- 26 -- 34 Steep Hill, Castle Hill and Lincoln Castle

It is now known that Aaron of Lincoln owned all of the property between from what is now 23 -- 34 Steep Hill opposite the Castle gate and ditch. Furthermore his house was actually in the Bail of the Castle, which would have placed it near the Castle gateway or on the road leading to it. After his death it became the official residence of the Constable of the Castle or at least was used for official purposes by the Constable. The presence of his house at the Castle itself attests to his status and importance as well as his link to the Crown, no doubt aided by the fact that Aaron also lent direct to the State.
Top

5. The Norman House - 46 & 47, Steep Hill

On leaving the Cathedral, walk towards the medieval castle and Castle Hill, passing through the Exchequer Gate. Steep Hill is then directly to the left with the rest of the Jewish sites.

The Norman House is the first to be reached, on the junction of Steep Hill with Christ's Hospital Terrace and perhaps has Jewish associations. The house is thought to originate from 1170-80. It is a Norman hall with a semi-sunken under-croft. The building still preserves some original Norman fabric. The entrance and first floor window (the latter rediscovered and then restored and repositioned) on the west front are the best preserved parts of the building, though there are some interior Norman features. The barrel-vaulted undercroft, at eight feet high, is well preserved. By 1898 the structure was home to no less than five families! The rest of the building had also by then been sub-divided into a warren of rooms. It has been claimed that Aaron the Jew lived in the house; but in reality, he probably lived further up the hill in the Bail. Thus it is only tradition that attests to a Jewish occupancy of the house, though recently other Jewish names have been suggested for the site. There is, though, no reason to doubt that a Jew could have, or did in fact, live in it.

Another tradition had it that the Jew's cemetery was across the road from the house; but this is probably unlikely as most Jewish burial grounds were outside the town walls.
Top

6. Jews' Court, the Site of the Medieval Synagogue - Steep Hill

Jews' Court is thought to be on the site of a medieval synagogue. Roth, the celebrated historian of Anglo-Jewry, believed that the actual, current upper room of the present building was used as a synagogue. Other historians have doubted if the Jews' Court itself was the actual synagogue, but documentary evidence supports the idea that the synagogue lay just behind the current building and that the original buildings on Jews' Court site were Jewish communal buildings directly connected with the synagogue.

The Jews' Court directly adjoins the celebrated Jew's House, down the slope from it. The building itself is thought by archeologists to date from around 1300, but with a large accumulation of later additions largely from the 18th century. However, the site has not been subject to a through archeological survey and it is entirely possible that it may still incorporate earlier elements to a greater or lesser extent. My own examination of the building suggested that that key parts of original walls may still remain in part, especially at the rear.

Dr Graham Borradaile of Canada has conducted his own survey using a new dating technique called 'Viscous Re-magnetization Dating', to determine the age of stabilization of the masonry in the Jews' Court. He writes that this test has 'proved that masonry was installed in the 13th century and it is not a 17th century building as suggested by critics of the 'synagogue hypothesis'. The structure even includes re-used Roman masonry (c.300 AD).'

The Jews' Court was supposed by tradition to be the site of the fabricated martyrdom of Little Hugh and a well in a corner of the basement was alleged to be the place where the body was concealed. These claims, however, have no real historical substance and it turns out that original well of the story was almost certainly at another location in town. This one was fabrication from the turn of the 20th century - a fake which enabled gullible visitors to be charged a small fee to see the place of the alleged horrible deed -- a double imposture!

There is some evidence, though, that there may have been a historic natural spring in the basement of the building, which used to over-flow into the street and which could leave open the possibility of that a mikveh (Jewish ritual bath) was in the building in its earlier history.

The Jew's Court was enthusiastically believed by Cecil Roth to be a synagogue. He was very impressed and excited by a stone aumbary (or cupboard) in the east wall of the second floor, upper-room which he thought was the ark for a Torah scroll. Although some agree that this wall may be old enough to be original, however, it is now thought by others that this section of the building is probably 18th century,

Recent research into the nature of medieval English synagogues overall makes this claim that the room was specifically a synagogue seem less likely. Apart from the fact the building may be too late in date, it is unlikely that a synagogue would have directly fronted a street. Most were in deliberately obscure back-street, sunken into the ground and, from the outside, anonymous.

Documentary sources show that a synagogue did in fact lie against the house, and that the original buildings on the site were used in some connection with the synagogue. In the 1290 Inquest at the time of the Expulsion, it is stated that the Jews' Court site was part of the communal property of the Jews, 'adjoining the scola (synagogue) in the street of the synagogue as well as two houses over the entrance to it'. Therefore the synagogue is most likely to have been to the rear of Jews' Court in what is now the garden, with the original Jews' Court being part of the entrance to the building and being connected in function with it. Thus the rear garden is probably the place to go to appreciate the location, though the original building may well have had a Jewish religious use relating to the synagogue and might just have contained a mikve,so it is not entirely inaccurate to describe it as part of a medieval synagogue. The rear of the property has yet to be excavated and there is a large raised area that may be of archeological interest.
Top

7. 'Jew's House' - no. 15 the Strait and 1 Steep Hill

The Jew's House was originally the property of Belaset, daughter of Solomon of Wallingford, it is now celebrated as the oldest occupied house in Europe. Belaset was hanged on an allegation of coin clipping in 1290. The convenient allegation and charge of coin-clipping was regularly made in the 13th Century against Jews, though the evidence is that as a group Jews were usually less likely to doctor the coinage.

The house was built as a Norman first-floor hall, probably from the mid 12th century, with some asserting the date to be c. 1170-80. It preserves much of its decorated ashlar work in limestone and its street facade is largely intact. It has an impressive Norman entry with a large chimneybreast supported on it as well as two (mutilated) Romanesque upper windows. Two of the decorative string courses still survive as well, meaning that it is the most striking of all the medieval 'Jews' Houses' in Lincoln.

An additional feature is an entrance hall that runs through the width of the house to the rear of the property and to what would have been an exterior rear staircase up to the domestic accommodation.

It is rightly considered to be one of the most important early domestic dwellings in the country. It is worth considering if the Jew's House could have been connected in function to Jews' Court. It is now thought that in Norman aristocratic practice, first-floor halls could indeed have functioned in conjunction with nearby by hall-buildings, with the first-floor hall providing the primary and more private dwelling and the adjoining hall for more public functions. If such a speculation is well founded then this would swing the debate back in favour of Roth's claim that the Jews' Court could have had a communal function, albeit under the aegis of one of the greater Jewish families.
Top

8. Medieval Jewish Artifacts - The Collection, Danes Terrace

The museum in Lincoln is well worth visiting, as researches for this trail have revealed two significant Jewish related artifacts identified by M. Roberts. The first is the 'Lincoln Lamp' which is a medieval suspended alloy oil-lamp with four pointed spouts, which is now understood to be a medieval Jewish Sabbath or ritual lamp, used for the weekly Sabbath and for Jewish festivals. Research by M. Roberts has shown that is almost identical to a medieval Jewish ritual or Sabbath Lamp at Bristol as well as similar to the medieval Sabbath Lamp in the Museum of London and a fore-runner to the later Judenstern lamps of Europe. This makes it just one of three or four confirmed examples in England and is a potent icon of former Jewish religious life in the medieval community.

The second item in The Collection is a medieval, ceramic, glazed, decorative roof-tile representing a head of a bearded man, with a (now broken) large nose and a pointed hat of the soft Phrygian type. Research by M.Roberts has shown that this is likely to be a portrait or caricature of a medieval Jew, similar to a chimney pot in the shape of a Jew's head from Oxford, though the latter spewed out smoke from his ears! Depictions of Jews at the time showed them as bearded figures with the distinctive pointed Jewish hat (Phrygian hat); stereotype large noses were also common as well. The precise function of this roof-top caricature is yet to be established, but it is likely that this one may actually depict a local Jewish figure, in the same way that the masons of the cathedral often depicted (and still depict) the heads of contemporary figures in the cathedral.

The Collection is clearly sign-posted from the High Street and Grantham Street.
Top

9. Cardinal's Hat -- 268 High Street / Grantham Street

The most identifiable site in the Grantham street area is that of the Cardinal's Hat. The noted half-timbered house, and the adjoining properties on the north side of Grantham Street junction with High Street, are over a number of Jewish sites identified by the City of Lincoln Archeological Trust. Two medieval charters show that the Cardinal's Hat was the site of a Jewish property that probably belonged to Joes of Colchester. It eventually passed to the Dean and Chapter in 1366. Next door to the east was a property belonging to Pictavin, who suffered in the Blood Libel accusation.

Elsewhere in the west of the street, in St Martin's parish, Vives of Norwich ccupied a house before 1274. However, the evidence shows that the Jews had Christian neighbours despite the un-historical assertions by some that there might have been a 'ghetto' in this area -- there were never any ghettos in medieval England.

In the east of the street, in St George's, lived Elias Grossus (1226-8), and Jacob and Samuel, son of Vives; Hagin owned a property here in 1257. In 1258 he obtained a house that had belonged Vives the Jew of Northampton.

In the later 13th century an Isaac of Brauncegate lived in the street. His two sons are mentioned in the 1290 Inquest.

At the Expulsion, there were some seven Jewish properties listed in the street. Solomon, son of Deulecress of London, had two small houses; Jacob, son of Isaac de Brauncegate, had a good 'well-built'house; Manser of Bradeworth, had two houses, one of them another 'good house well-built'; Joceus of Colchester, had 'tenements in Brauncegate, good houses, well built, with two chambers...' It seems that most of these were high status stone-built houses. It is likely that the phrase 'chamber' may be a short hand for a house with an upper-chamber built in stone.
Top

10. Grantham Street (Brauncegate)

Grantham Street is further down the Strait and is of to the left where the Strait meets the High Street. Grantham Street lay part in St Martin's parish to the west and also as part of the tiny St George's parish to the east. It was a prosperous residential street, largely developed in the late 12th and 13th Centuries and in the 13th century and housed a number of Jews as well as Christians. The excavations do, however, suggest that commercial activity was also going on in the street, in the form of proto-'shops', if not full-scale (in terms of the time) industrial activity.

Excavations show that the houses in the street were well built in stone, up to the eaves. Some had very generous street frontages as much as 10 m. wide. Since a medieval 'shop' was merely a wide window or bench about six feet across a very broad frontage would have been needed. The frontages housing 'shops' are conjectured to have had such wide windows where the selling went on. The generous frontage of some of the houses would explain how Josce Gubbay elsewhere in Lincoln could have, 'a very good house with a copse and six shops'.

These fine stone houses and halls were attractive with well-decorated, tiled roofs. The houses, with halls as the main residence, projected at right angles to the street, back on to their plots, effectively forming a wing on their earlier street frontages. The block of excavated houses at the east of the street largely belonged to Christians.
Top

11. Flaxengate

Cutting across the eastern side of Grantham Street is Flaxengate. The property, next up the hill (north) from the corner site of Grantham Street and Flaxengate, was almost certainly Jewish owned. It ran all the way across from Flaxengate to the High Street.
Top

12. Hungate - site of the second scola (synagogue) -- Garmston House, 262 and 262 a. High Street

The site of a second synagogue, a private scola, was located in Lincoln by C. Johnson in the late 1970s.

It can be found by returning to the junction of Grantham Street with High Street. The junction points across to the north boundary of the synagogue site on the opposite side of the High Street. The site is a rectangular plot that lies south and parallel to the line of St Martin's Lane, a lane which intersects both Hungate and High Street. The High Street side of the site was opposite to, and the next plot south, of the junction of High Street with Grantham Street. Through an examination of various records, Johnson discovered that there was an early 13th Century synagogue which had belonged to an Elias Martrin, who died in about 1233.

The property was a narrow but long rectangular plot that spanned the area between Hungate and High Street. There were frontages built on to both streets, with the main dwelling on High Street. The existence of a double street frontage is significant as a key feature of these private synagogues or oratories was exactly that they had such double frontages. The reason for this may be that such sites provided privacy, security, and at least two points of access (and, vitally, exit). There was space to build or extend an existing property or build a new building for use as a synagogue in the middle of the site.

Johnson presumes that the synagogue was associated with the High Street part of the property, as the high-status domestic quarters were always be on the most important side, in the 12th and 13th century. However, in light of greater knowledge of the medieval Jewish private synagogues it is more likely that it would have been either to the rear of the High Street building or even built separately at the back of it. This is made more likely, as elsewhere in Lincoln a distinguishing feature of the time was the fact that many properties had ample space to sprawl across a series of buildings.

The building was inherited by Isaac Peytavin and Dyaya, but was later awarded by the King to Hagin, son of Master Moses in 1249. Hagin lost his possessions as a result of the Blood Libel and the property passed to Queen Eleanor in 1286. The property was eventually acquired by the Dean and Chapter in 1312, through other owners.

The High Street property survived until the 18th century, when it was rebuilt as a town house by John Garmston (or John Harvey) and is no. 262 and 262 A. High Street, now known as Garmston House. In the modern times is has been a cinema, the Grand, which was closed in 1960. While much of what survives is later 17th century, with an 18th century frontage (altered by 1980s' shop-fronts), it still incorporates an arch and a Norman fireplace of the later 12th century in its north wall. This is a significant relic of the original Jewish property but cannot be readily seen.

Other fragments of the original, 12th century Norman building on the Garmston House site have been found. A double arch structure was discovered in the north wall. It was too shallow to be a fire-place and was possibly a cupboard in the original structure. There is also evidence of vaulting from a stone under-croft and glazed and unglazed roof-tile.

In 1978, some of the Hungate portion of the property still survived as stabling and was used by A.J.Todd & Co.
Top

13. The Shop of Daniel Cohen (Watchmaker and Jeweler) -- 2 Silver Street

Continuing to walk right down to the end of the High Street, the old south gate of the town is reached directly ahead at Stonebow. The second shop in the row to left of gate, in Silver Street, was that of one of the last Jews recorded as living and working in Lincoln in the 19th century - Daniel Cohen, in a court deposition of 1842 describes himself as a silver-smith living in Silver Street, though by 1867 he is described as a watchmaker and jeweler of 2 Silver Street.
Top

14. Miscellaneous Sites

A visitor to Lincoln might also investigate the extensive and impressive Roman remains in the city and the numerous medieval buildings and structures.
Top

Stories(0)
Articles(0)
Letters(0)
Books(0)
Video(0)
Audio(0)
Photos(4)
Memories(0)
Comments(0)
Post a Comment
Submit to this trail
Celebrities(0)
Profiles(0)