Clifford's Tower

Influenced by anti-Jewish rhetoric from religious zealots, crusaders, and those who owed Jews money, a group of York citizens began murdering Jewish families and looting Jewish homes. The community fled to Clifford’s Tower for safety.

Sadly, the tower did not provide the security the community needed. It's estimated that around 150 Jews lost their lives, likely most or all of the community's members. Amongst those who died was the community's leader, Josce, and his family, and religious scholars Yom Tov of Joigny and Elijah.

After the massacre, written evidence of loans made by Jews was seized from the Minster (where they had been lodged for safety by the Jewish Community) and burned. The ringleaders of the massacre fled the country to escape justice, but their families were fined by the King for their part in the atrocities.

Despite these extremely violent events, a second Jewish community was re-established in York only a few years later. The current stone structure of Clifford's Tower was built in the second half of the 13th century during the time of this later medieval Jewish community.

Daffodils (whose six-pointed shape echoes the Star of David) were planted on the mound as an annual reminder of the massacre, and a plaque commemorating the tragedy was installed at the foot of the tower in 1978.

In December 2022, members of York's current Jewish community, elected officials and faith representatives gathered here for a Hanukkah lighting ceremony. It is thought to be the first time a Jewish ceremony has been held within the tower since the 1190 tragedy.