skip to content »

Connections dating knaresborough

I first went to the Knaresborough library, which is situated in Market Place, and spoke to the librarians.They confirmed what they had told my friend and informed me that the alleyway by the side of the library was known locally as Synagogue Lane (though it may never have had a street name plaque on it and doesnt today).

These documents, I discovered, were actually printouts from an excellent website on the town and its history called Knaresborough Online.The website contains a lot of information about the synagogue, including an 1890 map showing the alleyway as being named Synagogue Yard.This information has been collated by the former town crier of Knaresborough, Mr.Sid Bradley, and even includes a plan of what he thought was the site of the synagogue.This consisted of some stone foundations, first discovered by the earliest town historian, Hargrove, in 1768.When I was beginning my research into the history of the Leeds Jewish community, I came across an article entitled "The Coming of the Jews to Leeds" in the Yorkshire Evening Post in 1918.

In it was mentioned the fact that some of the Leeds community members at the time were of the opinion that there were Jews living in Knaresborough centuries before any appeared in Leeds.

Because I had never heard of this theory before, and because there was in any case apparently no evidence to support it, I promptly forgot about it - until I was informed by a friend on a visit to the town he had been told by the assistants of its library that there was some local evidence of this.

So I went back to my notes and after much searching I eventually found the original reference I had forgotten about (and mislaid), and decided to see if I could find out for myself what evidence there was of a Jewish community in Knaresborough.

Unfortunately, he is wrong, for because of the style of structure of these foundations, archaeological advice (which I sought) suggested that they could not have been constructed prior to the 16th century - so it could not have been the synagogue site.

However, what I found particularly interesting was that Hargrove had reported the finding of a Jewish phylactery (tefillin) in Knaresborough castle in 1738, though it is not known where that artifact is today.

(As an aside, only one scroll was found so that it must have been the contents of the Tefillin Shel Yad the phylactery that is worn on the left arm.