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The Story of Jewish Families and Their English Country Houses

May 13, 2021 8:00 a.m. ET

The story of the Jews and England is long and complicated. Expelled by King Edward I in 1290, they were not permitted back in the country until 1655, when Oliver Cromwell allowed 400 Jews to settle in England. By the 19th century, Protestant England was one of the most tolerant countries in Europe for Jews and had a prime minister who had been born Jewish.

The result was a flourishing Jewish community, primarily centered in the counties near London, that built and acquired great country houses and established world class art collections and gardens of delight. The Rothschilds are possibly the most famous Jewish family in England, but there are other, less well-known names who helped create modern England. People like Isaac Goldsmid, a London-born financier who became the first Jewish baronet in English history. This amazing man helped found University College London, was a leading figure in the Jewish emancipation movement, and a proponent of the reform of the penal code. The stories of these families, and many more, will be explored in this illustration-rich, art-drenched, history-filled lecture.