A medieval doodle and a newly rediscovered photo of Leeds shop workers relaxing in a solarium belonging to the Burton Menswear company in the 1930s help tell the story of Jews in Britain, archivists said this week, ahead of a new website launch.
Montague Burton, a Jewish immigrant, opened his first shop in 1904, the company later becoming one of Britain’s biggest clothing retailers. The photo was found in West Yorkshire Archives is among the 25 collections to feature in the new Hidden Treasures website, which will be unveiled on Sunday.
The images relate to Jews’ experiences in Britain, and draw from the National Archives at Kew, Merseyside Jewish Community Archive, Hull History Centre, Imperial War Museum, Jewish History Association of South Wales, Scottish Jewish Archives Centre, The Wiener Holocaust Library and Sephardi Voices UK.
The Hidden Treasures website, an initiative of the Board of Deputies, also features contemporary material being compiled to chronicle the Jewish community’s experience of, and response to, the coronavirus pandemic.
Among the items to be explored include a medieval doodle in the margin of a document from 1277 regarding criminal cases in the king’s forest. The sketch of ‘Aaron – son of the devil’ appears next to a case concerning the killing of deer near Colchester and is one of the earliest English images of the ‘Badge of Shame’, the medieval equivalent of the yellow star.
Board president Marie van der Zyl said: “This is such an important project for anybody interested in the history of our community… the public will be encouraged to discover and learn much more about the story of Jews in the UK.”
Dr Sean Cunningham at Kew said: “Our collection includes a rich and diverse range of records showing Jewish experiences in Britain over the centuries, from medieval times to the present. It is an important part of our wider national story.”