About

Since 2005, Julia Pascal, Artistic Director of Pascal Theatre Company, has been researching the journeys and histories of the Sephardi Jews who left Spain and Portugal at the end of the 15th century to find refuge in the Balkans and across the Mediterranean basin.

THE PROJECT SO FAR

Julia Pascal, Artistic Director of Pascal Theatre Company, has since 2005 been researching the journeys and histories of the Sephardi Jews who left Spain and Portugal at the end of the fifteenth century to find refuge in the Balkans and across the Mediterranean basin.

Throughout 2019 and 2020, supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Discovering & Documenting England’s Lost Jews has explored the hidden histories of the Sephardi Jews who came to England during the seventeenth century and who remained to enrich England’s culture. This website (created in July 2020) connects this exciting world map of Sephardi diaspora.

The website explores how these Jews, who fled the terrors of the Inquisition, struggled to find a legal place in English society and eventually remained to become British citizens. They arrived with the memory of a Spanish and Portuguese cultural legacy, marking them as quite different from Britain’s later Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe. 

At first, the Sephardim in England hid their Jewish identity. Their presence defied King Edward’s 1290 dictum expelling all Jews on pain of death. This royal edict had made England the first European country to deport Jews.

There is a fascinating intersection of several languages, cultures and religions in this wide-reaching story of dispersion and exile. Through this project, our aim has been to bring communities together, to illuminate a rich history, and to help new generations become aware of overlapping histories, customs and experiences. The project began in January 2019 with a series of free drama workshops at Bevis Marks Synagogue. We have undertaken a programme of interviews with Sephardim as oral histories to be recorded for future generations, and have delivered workshops that have resulted in an educational programme to serve as an introduction for all ages to this largely untold story.

ONE LOST STONE

The One Lost Stone section of this site offers an inspiring artistic journey and multimedia response to the Novo Cemetery and Sephardi histories. One Lost Stone reveals elements of the secret legacies of Jews coming to England and features dynamic personalities including boxer Daniel Mendoza and the woman believed to be Shakespeare’s Dark Lady, Emilia Bassano. One Lost Stone is a team collaboration directed by Thomas Kampe, and features film, performance, poetry, research, exciting stories and music.