Jews first settled in England in 1066 and there were Jewish communities in many towns in the medieval period. However, in 1290 Edward I expelled the Jews and there was no official Jewish settlement in England until readmission under Oliver Cromwell in 1656. This new community quickly put down roots, becoming steadily more established until the late 19th century when it increased rapidly with the arrival of some 150,000 Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. Many of the newcomers settled in London’s East End, which became home to a vibrant cultural and religious life.
In the 20th and 21st centuries Jewish people from many countries have migrated to Britain and today the diverse community continues to play a significant role in British life.
Our social history collection is made up of objects, documents and oral histories charting the many stories and experiences of British Jewish life. It highlights the experience of migration and the challenges faced in building a new life in a different country.