With its expansive diaspora, most cities around the world—including London—have felt the influence of Jewish culture. Our Jewish London Tour traces the history of Jews in Britain's capital from the Middles Ages to the present. It visits an array of important historical sites, including Bevis Marks, the Sandy Row Synagogue, and the Kinder Transport Memorial, and along the way paints a vivid, informative portrait of London's Jewish population through history.
Jewish London Tour
Jewish history in London began in 1066, when William the Conqueror encouraged Jewish merchants and artisans from northern France to move to England. From that time (notwithstanding Edward the First's mass expulsion in 1290) London has been home to a very diverse and active Jewish community, one that established itself primarily in the area east of Tower Hill. Our Jewish London tour traces the history of these different communities, some of which continued to live in London after the expulsion, but the majority of whom entered into England only during the seventeenth century under the decree of Oliver Cromwell.
Synagogues in London
From Jewry Street, where first Jewish community of London made their home 800 years ago, to Bevis Marks, the first purpose-built Sephardi Synagogue opened in 1701, we will delve into the stories of the Jewish families that lived, struggled and prospered in this area of London. Continuing east, we will come across Gravel Lane and the site of the famous Petticoat Lane Market. It was here that hundreds of Ashkenazi Jews worked and settled in the eighteenth century. We will discuss the importance of the rag trade (selling second hand clothes) and the role of the Jewish Welfare Board, which was established in 1859.
Those interested in learning the history of other subjugated groups in London may find our London Slavery Tour
Commemorating Those Lost
After a quick visit to Sandy’s Row Synagogue, we will finish our walk at the Kinder Transport Memorial, located at Liverpool Street Station. In 1938, the British Government gave permission for 10,000 Jewish refugee children to enter the country after escaping from Nazi Germany. The children were saved, but never saw their parents again. As Liverpool Street Station was the site of their arrival, this fitting monument was placed to preserve their memory.
Our Jewish London walking seminar weaves a tale of the history of the Jewish community in London, giving visitors a distinct sense of its rich culture and history. Spanning a wide time span, our docent, an expert in Jewish history, will provide you with a deeper sense of how these communities developed from their initial inception in 1066 and subsequent flourishing in the seventeenth century through their trials during WWII and finally to their triumphs in modern London.
Context Travel is also able to arrange a special Custom Jewish History itinerary at the British Museum, following the Old Testament stories of the Jews through correlating artifacts on display. Please email our office for more information.
Do we go inside the venues or just see them from the outside?
We will go inside Bevis Marks temple and sometimes we also go inside Sandy’s Row Synagogue.
Will you pre-purchase tickets?
It's not possible to buy tickets in advance, but our docent will facilitate the purchase of tickets, so you will not wait in line.
What if it’s raining?
Tours operate rain or shine, but in the case of inclement weather, your docent will modify the tour so more time is spent indoors. It never hurts to have an umbrella on hand.
Is this tour good for kids?
Yes! We have some excellent family friendly docents who can appeal to the learning styles of children. Please book privately if you have children under 13. Feel free to provide us with information about your children such as favorite school subjects, and hobbies. This way we can match you with the best possible docent.
Is this a walking intensive tour?
The walk covers approximately 2 miles, but we go at a gentle pace. If you have any special requirement, please let us know at the time of booking.