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NORWICH , county town of Norfolk, E. England. The medieval Jewish community is first mentioned in 1144, when the discovery of the body of a boy, William of Norwich, in a wood near the town gave rise to the first recorded *blood libel in Europe. Although this apparently had no immediate effect on the community, there were attacks by citizens on the Jews in the 1230s, the one in 1234 following an accusation that the Jews had kidnapped and circumcised a Christian child. The descendants of *Jurnet of Norwich, who were financiers, patrons of learning, and scholars, dominated the community from 1160 to 1260: the lower part of their stone house still stands in King Street (as part of the "Music House"). The 13th-century community (numbering about 100 to 150) seems, from the considerable documentary evidence surviving, mainly to have consisted of financiers who lent to local traders and the rural gentry and villagers. The community suffered from the "coin-clipping" charges of 1279 and the execution for blasphemy of the local magnate, Abraham fil' Deulecresse; by the time of the general expulsion from England in 1290, it numbered only 50 souls. The poems of *Meir b. Elijah of Norwich (c. 1244) have survived, mainly in a Vatican manuscript.

Individual Jews settled in Norwich in the first half of the 18th century and there was an organized community by 1754 when a quarrel in the synagogue attracted much attention in the press. Continuous communal activity dates from the purchase of a burial ground in 1813 and the opening of a new synagogue in 1828. Local 19th-century families included those of Samuel (father of the first Lord *Mancroft), Haldinstein, and Soman (founder of the Norwich Argus newspaper). The community was especially known for shoe manufacture, antique dealing, and the press and printing. The synagogue, which was destroyed by bombing in World War ii, was rebuilt in 1948; the community's numbers remained between 100 and 200 (1% of the total population) through most of the 20th century. The 2001 British census found a total of 239 declared Jews in Norwich. The town had an Orthodox and a Reform synagogue.


V.D. Lipman, Jews of Medieval Norwich (1967); C. Roth, Rise of Provincial Jewry (1950), 85–87; Roth, England, index; Roth, Mag Bibl, 92, 93, 170; H. Levine, Norwich Hebrew Congregation 18401960; Jackson's Oxford Journal (June 8, 1756). add. bibliography: M. Brown, "The Jews of Norfolk and Suffolk Before 1840," in: jhset, 32 (1990–92), 219–36.

[Vivian David Lipman]

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Norwich. County town of Norfolk, situated on the river Wensum, and a cathedral city since 1094. It is not recorded before 900, yet by 1066 it was one of the three or four most important towns in England, a position it retained until late Georgian times. It may have begun as a wic or trading port under the Vikings before rising rapidly to become a major town, in a way that still lacks explanation. The Normans transformed the city by building a castle and cathedral, and laying out a new French borough. From the 1140s to 1290 Norwich housed an important Jewry, and from 1194 the citizens accumulated privileges of self-government, while between 1297 and 1344 they built stone walls which enclosed an area of a full square mile (as much as London's). By this time it was the wealthiest provincial town, possessing a major Benedictine priory, 6 friaries, and 57 parish churches. In the 14th and 15th cents. textile manufacture became the dominant industry, especially of cloths called worsteds after a local village. In the 16th and 17th cents. it overtook its rivals to be once more the largest and wealthiest English town after London, its economy sustained partly by a massive immigration of refugees from the Spanish Netherlands who introduced the New Draperies. It also became a social centre for the East Anglian gentry. In the late 18th and early 19th cents. the textile industry declined in the face of Yorkshire competition, and Norwich reverted to its traditional function as a marketing and trading town with only modest industries. The city centre is still dominated by its cathedral, castle keep, and 32 medieval churches (more than in any other British town); the most notable modern accent is perhaps the city hall of 1932–8, inspired by Stockholm's town hall, and a reminder of Norwich's tradition of municipal socialism.

David M. Palliser

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Norwich (nôr´Ĭj, –Ĭch), city (1991 pop. 32,664) and district, county seat of Norfolk, E England, on the Wensum River just above its confluence with the Yare. Norwich is a principal city market for cattle and grain. It is also a center for shopping and entertainment, as well as administration. Since the 11th cent., Norwich has been a leading provincial city. It was sacked by the Danes in the 11th cent. and scourged by the Black Death in 1348. Norwich was the scene of events in Wat Tyler's rebellion of 1381 and in the uprising under Robert Kett in 1549. There are many medieval churches as well as a cathedral founded in 1096 by the first bishop of Norwich. Norwich Castle, part of which dates from Norman times, was made (1894) into a museum for collections of natural history and local antiquities. It also houses paintings of the 18th- and 19th-century Norwich school of artists. Other old buildings include St. Giles's Hospital (13th cent.), Suckling House (14th cent.), Strangers Hall (15th cent.; now a museum), the guildhall (15th cent.), and St. Andrew's Hall (15th cent.; formerly a Dominican church). The Maddermarket Theatre, a reconstruction of a Shakespearean theater, has a permanent amateur company. The Norwich grammar school dates from the 13th cent. The city is also the cultural center of the county; triennial music festivals have been held there since 1824. It is seat of the Univ. of East Anglia (1963). The writer Harriet Martineau was born in Norwich.

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Norwich City and county town of Norfolk, e England. It was already an important market town in the 11th century. There are many fine medieval churches, including the Norman cathedral (1096). Industries: textiles, machinery, chemicals, electrical goods, foodstuffs, footwear. Pop. (1994 est.) 127,778.