Patrons, clients, designers and developers: the Jewish contribution to secular building in England*

Lewis Mumford, the American architectural critic, once remarked that the influence exercised by Jews, as by Huguenots, was out of all proportion to their numbers.1 He was of course repeating a truth noted by many. Although the Jewish minority in the United Kingdom amounts to a mere half per cent of the population, we have seen Jewish MPs in excess of 5 per cent returned to postwar parliaments. The Daily Telegraph, Reuter’s despatches, belisha beacons, the Shell logo and the regimental march of the Royal Marines are now deemed thoroughly British, their Jewish origins forgotten.

While the contributions of English Jews in the fields of public life, phi? lanthropy, medicine, science, philosophy, literature, scholarship, industry, banking and commerce are well documented, their influence on the built environment of English towns and on individual buildings (and some of their contents) is perhaps not so well known. Such influence may be exer?

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