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Raymond Burton CBE, FRSA 1917-2011

The Jewish Museum is very sad to announce the death of Raymond Burton CBE on 5 February 2011 at the age of 93. A business leader and outstanding philanthropist, Raymond Burton supported a myriad of projects reflecting both his love for his native county of Yorkshire and his commitment to Jewish heritage and culture.

Raymond Burton was the son of Sir Montague Burton, the founder of the clothing chain Burton’s. After his father’s death in 1952 Raymond took over the leadership of the business, together with his brothers Stanley and Arnold. As Chairman of the Company, he founded the British conglomerate Arcadia and its most famous brand Topshop, which he continued to run until his retirement in 1982.

He was a benefactor of the Universities of Cambridge and York, supporting the Humanities Library at York University, as well as the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases in Queen Square.

But one of his most treasured projects was the Jewish Museum London, now housed in Raymond Burton House in Camden Town. As Chairman and then President of the museum, through his vision, leadership and generosity he made possible its transformation into one of London’s leading independent museums and an institution of international renown. Founded in 1932, the museum was for many years based in a single room in Jewish communal offices in Bloomsbury. However, in 1988 Raymond Burton purchased a Grade II listed building in Albert Street, Camden Town, to form an attractive new home for the museum and in 2002 he again played a key role in as one of the principal benefactors supporting the museum’s further expansion. His generosity made possible the purchase of a former piano factory adjoining the museum, followed by a major redevelopment, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, which tripled its size and created a new landmark museum for London which opened in March 2010.

Rickie Burman, Director of the Jewish Museum, commented “Raymond Burton’s legacy will live on in our new museum. He was a true gentleman - a person of vision, understanding and acute intelligence, who combined exceptional generosity with great modesty. We are so glad that, despite his illness over the past two years, he lived to see the completion of the museum that he has done so much to create.”

Not long before his death, Mr Burton observed “there are two things I am particularly proud of in my life – one is the Jewish Museum and the other is Topshop”.

Raymond Burton was also an active supporter of the World Union for Progressive Judaism and was personally involved in founding and securing a building for Congregation Shaarei Shalom in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Raymond Burton is survived by his wife Diana, and by his two daughters, Lady Harriet Milnes-Coates and Jane Ingham, from his marriage to his late first wife, Pam. Also surviving him is his twin brother Arnold.

For further information please contact: Sara O’Donnell: 020 7284 7384,

Monday 28th March, 2011

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If you are interested in writing an article, using an image, or filming at the Jewish Museum London please contact Hannah Talbot, Head of Marketing, Communications and PR on +44 (0)20 7284 7356 or email 


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