Category Archives: Lecture Subjects

I offer lectures and talks on a range of subjects, many of which are elaborated on below. If you would like to contact me regarding any of these please use the contact form.

The Gordon Riots

In 1780 London was devastated by terrible riots, instigated by Lord George Gordon against the Catholics.  More than 800 people died and much of the city was destroyed.  Fires broke out as Catholic chapels were attacked, the prisons were broken into and the prisoners released.  Lord George, an unstable Scottish peer, was arrested.  He converted to Judaism, and ended his days in Newgate as an orthodox Jew.

 

 

 

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The History of the English Garden

This talk covers the development of the garden in England from the coming of the Romans to present day designs.  The founding of the great monasteries continued the tradition of gardening, supported by the medieval small formal gardens for the wealthy aristocrats of the time.  Tudor gardens surrounded the grand homes of nobles such as Bess of Hardwick, to be followed in the eighteenth century by the great landscape gardeners such as Capability Brown.  Victorian England saw the activities of the plant hunters bringing exotic plants home from the east and the designs of the great gardeners such as Gertrude Jekyll and William Robinson.  In our own day small suburban gardens have come into their own to make gardening the fastest-growing hobby in the country.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews

An account of the history and development of the Board of Deputies, the     representative body of the Anglo-Jewish community.  The foundation of the Board in 1760 led to disputes over the inclusion of progressive Jews in this country, problems of marriage registration and the religious and political influences brought to bear on its administration.  The talk includes a review of how Deputies are elected, the committees which handle its day-to-day work and the problems it faces for the future.

The Story of Cliffords Tower

The Jews living in England before the expulsion of 1290 were oppressed by the nobles who owed them money.  The Jews of York, to escape the marauding crowds, shut themselves into the keep of the castle.  But the onslaught was so vicious that they thought it better to take their own lives than fall into the hands of their attackers.  This story gives an account of the situation of the Jews in England in the 12th century and the tragic developments at York.

The Story of the Rescued Scrolls

In 1964 there arrived in London more than a thousand sacred Scrolls of the Law, rescued from their sanctuary in Prague after the Nazi occupation.  How they arrived at Westminster Synagogue, were restored and sent on to congregations all over the world is a remarkable story.  A new exhibition at the synagogue in Knightsbridge shows what happened and how the members of the community are still working on the project, showing a new generation another part of their Jewish inheritance.

Sir Moses Montefiore – Patriarch of English Jews

A member of the English ‘cousinhood’, Sir Moses made his fortune on the Stock Exchange, devoting his life to improving the conditions of his fellow Jews at home and abroad.  With his beloved wife Judith he travelled to the Holy Land and set up  the forerunners of the Kibbutzim.  He was responsible for saving the lives of Syrian Jews imprisoned on the grounds of ‘blood libel’, and interceded with the Pope over the abduction and conversion of a Jewish child in Italy.  He died at the age of 100 much mourned by his contemporaries.

Oliver Cromwell and the Jews

This is an account of the readmission of the Jews to England in 1655, examining the attitudes of English people to the Jews and the reasons for the government to consider proposals that the Jews should be allowed to come back into the country and play a full part in economic and social life here.  The part played by Menasseh ben Israel and others is considered and there is a detailed examination of subsequent Jewish political emancipation.

Jewish Life in Victorian London

This is a brief account of the social, economic and religious life of Jews in London during the reign of Queen Victoria. The political aspects of Jewish emancipation are dealt with, as well as the foundation of new synagogues, the  rift between firstly the Ashkenazi and Sephardi communities and later the changes arising from the growth of Reform and Liberal movements.

Roderigo Lopez – Physician to the Queen

The story of the Jewish physician who settled in England and was appointed doctor to Queen Elizabeth I.  His attempts to help his fellow Jews in Portugal resulted in accusations of spying for King Philip II of Spain and of attempting to poison the Queen.  He was executed in spite of Elizabeth’s belief in his innocence.  The background to the account covers the situation of the Jews in England during Tudor times, when they were officially excluded from the country.

The History of the Jews in England

This is an account of the life of Jews in England from their first known presence in this country during the reign of William the Conqueror. After the expulsion in 1290 the story covers the traces of the secret Jews who remained in England, and reviews the readmission, negotiated by Menasseh Ben Israel, under Oliver Cromwell.  The story continues with the immigration of  the Jews of Eastern Europe and later of those fleeing the Nazi persecution, while the political and social emancipation of the Jews is dealt with in some detail.