History of the Community
Jews have lived in Northampton since Medieval times. The first record was in 1159. Records show that Jews in Northampton had to pay heavy taxes. The community expanded until all Jews were expelled from England in 1290.
Records show that there was a medieval synagogue and cemetery in Northampton. Remains of the synagogue have been discovered, this Chronicle and Echo article explains further.
Although Jews were permitted to return to England in 1656 it was not until the middle of the 19th Century that they came to Northampton.
After a few years of meeting in private homes the Northampton Hebrew Congregation was formed in October 1888. In 1890 the congregation purchased the former Jerusalem Temple in Overstone Road. This corrugated iron building was used until 1964 when it was demolished and replaced in 1965 by the present synagogue which was built on the same site.
The Jewish population of Northampton was at its height during the second world war when several hundred were evacuated to Northampton from London. Most returned to London after the war.
The 1991 Census revealed that out of a total population of over 190,000, 322 people declared themselves (including their children) to be Jewish. A further 50,000 people either did not answer the religious question or claimed to belong to some other religion.