A statue of the thirteenth-century Jewish businesswoman, Licoricia of Winchester, appears to have been vandalised.
The statue, a to-scale depiction of Licoricia and her son, Asher, which was unveiled at the Winchester Discovery Centre in February this year, appears to have been attacked. Photographs show that the varnish around Asher’s eye, nose and mouth have been peeled.
It is not currently clear how the damage was caused, with some sources suggesting that the surface may have been damaged by a fizzy drink, while others fear that it may be some other corrosive substance.
Licoricia of Winchester was a Jewish businesswoman and community leader who has been described as “the most important Jewish woman in medieval England”. She married her second husband, David of Oxford, known as the richest Jewish person in England at the time, in 1242, and was imprisoned in the Tower of London for surety when he died two years later. She spent the next three decades financing figures throughout southern England. She is also said to have had a close relationship with King Henry III.
She was found murdered in 1277 in her house in Winchester’s Jewry Street in 1277, thirteen years before King Edward I expelled the Jews from England.
Three men were arrested for Licoricia’s murder, but none of them were convicted, and the murder went unsolved.
Tony Stoller, a trustee of the Licoricia of Winchester Appeal, said: “There is indeed some minor damage to the statue, although there is no reason to think it is targeted vandalism. We’re examining how best it can be repaired, which ought to be straightforward. There is no suggestion whatever that it may be the result of any antisemitic action.”
The story of Licoricia of Winchester was covered in episode 14 of Podcast Against Antisemitism.