Licoricia of Winchester

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This photograph appeared in the Jewish Chronicle 29th March 2019. For more information about the story of this wonderful statue click here . For more information about the Jewish Walk and History of Jews in Winchester click here .  This explanatory note by Pam Manix,  Medievalist for Oxford Jewish Heritage Committee: “David of Oxford divorced his barren wife Muriel and married the fertile widow Licoricia from Winchester.    After David died 1244, she returned to Winchester to live among her sons from her first marriage.  Asher the little boy in the statue (our David’s son) remained in Oxford for many years, but in the end, he too went to live in Winchester with his half-brothers.   Licoricia was nearly as big a financier as David was (as was her father, Lumbard (long-beard)–of Winchester, not Oxford’s Lumbard of Cricklade).     Licoricia was famously murdered along with her Christian maid–in Winchester years later.

It’s interesting Winchester has chosen Licoricia as its Jewish memorial subject—though I expect it is for the same reason that the Museum of Oxford wants to emphasise some of the Jewish women of Oxford.    Although in some ways, I suppose Licoricia is the most famous Winchester Jew(ess), especially given her colourful, notorious, murder along with her Christian maidservant there in 1277.

It was Asher’s graffiti on the cell wall of Winchester castle describing their incarceration during the coin-clipping trials of 1278–that survived and was found by possibly the only Hebrew-speaking lawyer in England still, in the 1600s–John Seldon. Who wrote it down, not knowing who Asher was. It was not figured out until 300 years later!

Asher-fils-Licoricia lived on the High, where the “Fellows” shop is now–and he owned another house where Trinity College main gate is now.

A further article appeared in the August 2nd 2019 Jewish Chronicle with more information and discussion by Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain of Maidenhead Synagogue

On10th February 2022 Prince Charles officially unveiled the Statue in Winchester

The OJH member and internationally renown writer, Rebecca Abrams, who has recently published a book about this remarkable woman, was interviewed as part of that day’s BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour. and a link to the interview is:

Rabbi Dr Romain discussed the position of Jews in Medieval England, their relationships with the non-Jewish population, their lives and particularly her extraordinary life, divorce and then the future of the Jews and their expulsion. The article can be downloaded here

See also Roster of Jews of Oxford

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