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The Tower of London and its Jewish history

Tower of London . (photo credit: ILANIT CHERNICK)

The rich history of the Tower of London tells the story of a fortress, a palace, as well as a place of law, torture, incarceration and doom throughout medieval British History.

But new research has revealed that the Tower of London also served as a place of refuge for the Jewish community during violent pogroms, as their prison when they refused to pay taxes, and even as their port of exile when they were expelled from England in the year 1290.  The information, presented at the tower last week in a lecture titled “New perspectives on the Tower and the medieval Jewish community,” shows how the Jews had a much deeper connection to the monument than previously known.

The curator of the collections at the tower, Sally Dixon-Smith of Historic Royal Palaces – an independent charity that manages some of the United Kingdom’s unoccupied royal palaces – spent three months analyzing Treasury documents, looking into the links between the Jewish community and the structure.

She found that London’s early Jewish residents took refuge in the tower during particularly violent pogroms in 1189, 1264 and 1272.    Read More