Blue Plaques in Oxford

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The Oxfordshire Jewish Heritage Committee is reviewing the presence of Blue Plaques which commemorate places or people with a Jewish connection. To have a Plaque erected application is made to the Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board who have set the following criteria which must be strictly adhered to:

 Criteria for a person to be remembered:

* He/she must have been dead for at least 20 years or have passed the centenary of his/her birth, whichever is earlier.

* He/she must have resided or worked for at least five years in the building on which the plaque will be erected.

* There must be reasonable grounds that the person is regarded as eminent in his/her sphere

OR has made a significant contribution to human welfare or happiness

OR had an outstanding personality and is known to well-informed passers-by

OR has done work worthy of recognition.

Criteria for a location to be remembered:

The location must be recognised nationally, countywide, or locally, as being of especial significance and worthy of recognition. Where an event is associated with it, at least 20 years must have elapsed before it can be considered for commemoration.


So far only 5 Blue Plaques in Oxford can be shown to have a Jewish connection:

  • KREBS, Sir Hans (1900 – 1981), biochemist and nobel laureate at 27 Abberbury Road, Iffley unveiled 7th June 2008
  • BERLIN, Sir Isaiah ( 1909 – 1997 ), philospher, author and founding President of Wolfson College, at Headington House, Old High Street, Headington, unveiled 7th June 2009
  • CHAIN, Ernst (1906 – 1979), German-born British biochemist, and a 1945 co-recipient of the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for his work on penicillin, unveiled 29th May 2018
  • SIMON, Sir Francis (1893–1956), Low Temperature Physicist and Philanthropist, lived at Number 10 Belbroughton Road  1933–1956.
  •  GUTTMAN, Sir Ludwig 1899-1980, Neurosurgeon and pioneer of rehabilitation for spinal injury


That for Sir Isaiah Berlin, was erected after the involvement of the Oxford Jewish Heritage Committee, and this is demonstrated by the committee’s name appearing on the plaque.  We hope this will be the first of many such plaques around Oxford.

A recent development by the Association of Jewish Refuges is to place plaques  to commemorate work done by Jewish Refuges and the first such plaque was placed to commemorate the work done by Sir Hans Krebs in Oxford on the site of the newly rebuilt University Department of Biochemistry.   This was unveiled in May 2013.


PenicllinThe latest of this group is actually two plaques, one unveiled at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology and the other in the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter.   The isolation and purification of penicillin to treat bacterial disease was mainly done by Howard Florey, Ernst Chain, and Norman Heatley, at the Dunn School from 1938 to 1941, the clinical trials were carried out in the Radcliffe Infirmary.    A report on the BBC website can be seen here

The plaque bearing the name of Sir Francis Simon, funded by the Oxford Civic Society, was unveiled at 10 Belbroughton Road, Oxford on 10 December 2003 by Sir Martin Wood.   An account of Sir Francis’ achievements and life can be read here  Screenshot_2019-08-28_at_15.58.44Franz Eugen Simon was born into a wealthy Jewish merchant family in Berlin in 1893.He was appointed to the Chair of Physical Chemistry at Breslau in 1931 and by now was regarded internationally as the outstanding low temperature physicist of his generation. After Hitler came to power he was at first exempt from persecution because he had been awarded the Iron Cross (first class) for his service on the Western Front in the First World War, but he wisely accepted Lindemann’s invitation to join the academic community in Oxford.

In 2023 a new Blue Plaque was unveiled at 63 Lonsdale Road Oxford the war time home of Sir Ludwig Guttmann FRCS  to commemorate his ground breaking work as a Neurosurgeon and pioneer of rehabilitation for spinal injury patients, also known as the Father of the Paralympic Games  who was a Consultant and innovator at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Aylesbury

About OJH

Our aim is to raise the profile of the history of Jews in Oxford from earliest records through to the modern day.

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