Oldest Jewish home in England could become a heritage centre

A local Jewish group has been encouraged to apply for the lease on Jurnet's House in Norwich, the 12th century home of Isaac Jurnet


Jurnet's House in Norwich, the oldest place of Jewish habitation in England, could be returned to the Jewish community for a heritage centre project.

The property dates back to the early 12th century and was the home of money lender Isaac Jurnet, who funded some of the city’s major buildings.

It is part of a site currently used by the county council as an educational hub but will be returned to Norwich City Council early next year.

The city council has encouraged the Norwich Jewish heritage group comprised of community and university representatives to apply for the lease on Jurnet's House.

Local Jewish leader Marian Prinsley said the challenge was now to come up with plans and funding, pointing out that the historic part of Jurnet’s House was currently not in use because of water damage. “It’s the oldest secular building in Norwich. It’s going to need a lot of renovation.”

Norwich was the scene of the first known blood libel in England in 1144 when Jews were falsely accused of the ritual murder of a boy, William of Norwich, who was found dead in the woods with stab wounds.

Similar accusations followed in other cities, leading to massacres of Jewish citizens. At an emotional civic Seder this year, the Lord Mayor of Norwich, Councillor Kevin Maguire, offered a “heartfelt apology” for the blood libel.

Prinsley added that the heritage centre idea had the backing of Jewish professors at the University of East Anglia.

“We don’t just want it as a museum. It could also house an institute for the study of antisemitism. Being at the home of the first blood libel gives it extra credence.”

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