The City of Coventry: Other religious groups

Pages 396-397

A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 8, the City of Coventry and Borough of Warwick. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1969.

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In this section


Judaism (fn. 1)

Elias of Coventry, a Jew, contributed to Richard I's tallage of 1194 (fn. 2) and Antera of Coventry, a Jewess, was a party to a suit concerning a house in the town in 1219-20. (fn. 3) The house may have been the same as the messuage which was still identified in 1467 as having formerly belonged to the Jews (quod quondam. fuit Judeorum). (fn. 4) The first indication of the modern Jewry does not occur until about 1775, when Isaac Cohen came to live in Coventry. (fn. 5) Cohen is said to have been the first of a small community of Ashkenazim who established themselves in Coventry at the beginning of the 19th century. (fn. 6) Their first place of worship was the home of the Cohen family in Butcher Row, a medieval building that was demolished in 1936, (fn. 7) and Jews from Coventry were represented in 1809 at the opening of the new synagogue in Severn Street, Birmingham. (fn. 8) Later places of worship included rooms off Derby Lane, Fleet Street, and, finally, in an upper room off No. 16 Court, Spon Street. From this the worshippers moved in 1870 to the newly-built synagogue in Barras Lane. The congregation was then said to number about 50 men and boys, (fn. 9) but the prevailing depression of Coventry trade, and particularly of watchmaking, appears to have been reflected in a fall in the Jewish population. A service in 1881 was attended by 22 persons, (fn. 10) but in 1889 it was reported to be impossible at times to gather the ten persons necessary for the reading of the law, and the regular congregation seems to have shrunk to about a dozen. (fn. 11) In November 1890 the congregation had been reduced to six contributing members, (fn. 12) and the synagogue was closed shortly afterwards. Although it reopened in 1906 the congregation was still said to be small and very poor four years later. (fn. 13) There was a subsequent recovery, however, and the Jewish population numbered about 240 in 1964. (fn. 14)


A mosque in Eagle Street was founded in 1960 (fn. 15) and was registered for public worship in 1961 for the Sunni branch of Islam. (fn. 16) It has (1966) accommodation for 100 people. (fn. 17)


A temple known as the Ramgariha Sikh Temple was founded in Foleshill Road in 1965. (fn. 18)


  • 1. This section was completed in 1964.
  • 2. Miscellanies, vol. i (Jewish Hist. Soc. of Eng.), p. lxviii.
  • 3. H. Cole, Docs. Illustrative of Eng. Hist. in the 13th and 14th Cents. 285, 291, 309, 322.
  • 4. Leet Bk. 752-3, and n.
  • 5. Jewish Chron. 5 June 1936.
  • 6. C. Roth, Rise of Provincial Jewry, 25, 53-54; Cov. Standard, 29 Mar. 1889.
  • 7. Jewish Chron. 5 June 1936.
  • 8. Roth, Provincial Jewry, 53.
  • 9. Cov. Standard, 29 Mar. 1889.
  • 10. Cov. Herald, 9 Dec. 1881 (religious census).
  • 11. Cov. Standard, 29 Mar. 1889.
  • 12. Jewish Chron. 7 Nov. 1890.
  • 13. Char. Com. file 72588.
  • 14. Jewish Year Bk. (1964), 103, 194.
  • 15. Ex inf. Mr. Mohammed Akram.
  • 16. Worship Reg. 68379.
  • 17. Ex inf. Mr. Mohammed Akram.
  • 18. Ex inf. Mr. G. S. Kalsi.