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Sources for business history

Sources for art history: Catalogue of the pictures of Alfred de Rothschild 1901

Sources for yachting history: Plans for Nathaniel von Rothschild's yacht Veglia 1905

Sources for natural history: Walter 2nd Lord Rothschild and his zebra carriage: c.1910

Sources for global financial history: Map of lines of the Brazil Railway Company: c.1920

Sources for business history: index cards to bank files

Sources for social history: Rothschild Hospital Paris: 1920s

Sources for business history: detail of a Rothschild bond coupon

Sources for architectural history: Halton House: 1890s

Sources for the history of travel: Lionel de Rothschild's tours of Spain: 1909

Sources for local history: Tring Park: c.1900

Sources for Royal history: shooting party with Edward Prince of Wales: 1893

Sources for political history: Lionel de Rothschild: first Jewish MP: 1858

Sources for sporting history: St Amant winner of the Derby: 1904

Sources for local history: gardeners at Aston Clinton: 1899

Sources for Rothschild family history: Lionel de Rothschild's yacht Rhodora: 1927

Sources for London history: entrance to New Court: 1965

Sources for design history: plans for Lionel de Rothschild's Rolls-Royce: 1930

Sources for business history: Rothschild gold bars produced by the Royal Mint Refinery: 1930s

Sources for business history: letters of August Belmont Rothschild Agent in New York: 1860s

Livre des comptes de cuisine: Kitchen Account Book, 1833

The collections of The Rothschild Archive London contain over two million pieces of paper, volumes, files, photographs, artefacts and art works. Archivist's Choice is a series a short articles each highlighting a treasure from the Archive collection, or celebrating an anniversary or special event. Browse through our library of Archivist's Choice articles to discover some of the fascinating stories behind our collections.

This Choice is taken from the collections of the Banque Rothschild Frères à Paris et Famille Rothschild, held on behalf of the Archive by the Archives Nationales du Monde du Travail, Roubaix, France.  

Among the papers is a small book which has an interesting history to reveal. Roughly covered in brown paper, the book is a ‘Livre des comptes de cuisine’ (Kitchen Account Book), covering the period 15 October 1832 to 15 September 1833.

The art of hospitality

The book records all the ingredients of the meals eaten by James de Rothschild and his family for a period of just under a year between 1832 and 1833. James Mayer de Rothschild (1792-1868) was the youngest child of Mayer Amschel Rothschild of Frankfurt. James founded the French bank, de Rothschild Frères in 1812. James married his niece, Betty, the daughter of his brother Salomon, on 11 July 1824, and they had five children.

The couple entertained on a grand scale, first in Paris and then in the Château de Boulogne and at Ferrières. The scale of entertaining is reflected in the lists of expensive ingredients, and descriptions of lavish meals in the Account Book. Truffles, lobsters, and champagne jelly, are listed as being on the menu of the dinner of 17 November 1832. Browsing through the book, one cannot help but guess which statesmen, diplomats and financiers, were entertained on the 11 and 12 November 1832, for there are many foreign dishes on the menu - Potage aux Vermicelles à l’Allemande, Venaison Anglaise, Saumon à l’Allemande, Filet de Boeuf à la Napolitaine, Poitrine de Veau à l’Allemande, Gâteau Napolitain …’ On 22 April 1833, two soups were served, followed by eight starters, six main dishes with three different accompaniments, and eight desserts, including jellied pineapple and champagne chocolate truffle. In contrast, one regular entry in the Account Book, ‘poulet pour le dîner des enfants’ indicates that chicken was served to the children on most nights.

When it was first discovered, the book was thought to have belonged to the great Antoine Carême (1794-1833), James’ chef, one of the greatest French chefs of all time. Carême, however, had left Rothschild employment by the time this book was compiled. The identity of the creator of one of the most well-known aspects of Rothschild style, the art of hospitality, is unknown.

The great 'Mrs P'

The English Rothschilds also entertained on a lavish scale in their London homes and great country estates. In 1922, Ena Mary Huxley (1907-1989), later Mrs Prentice, (affectionately referred to as ‘Mrs P’), started work as a scullery-maid at Palace Green, the London home of Charles (1877-1923) and Roszika Rothschild (1870-1940). In 1953 she went to work for Victor, the late 3rd Lord Rothschild (1910-1990) at Merton Hall, Cambridge, where she married his chauffeur, Wally. Mrs P was a cook without the ostentation of the traditional chef, and yet she excelled in the art of cookery. She wrote down her recipes - many of them given to her by chefs of her era - in her own neat handwriting, in two exercise books. For the month of December, we give you Mrs Prentice’s recipe for seasonal ‘Turkey stuffing in patties’.

Turkey stuffing in patties

Mrs Prentice called these 'patties', but the classical name for them is 'forcemeat balls' as used in the garnish for roast turkey. Whereas forcemeat for stuffing the inside of the turkey usually contains sausagemeat, the stuffing for the forcemeat balls surrounding the turkey does not usually contain meat.

1 small onion, finely diced

1 rasher of bacon, finely diced

4 tablespoons of breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon chopped suet

2 teaspoons chopped parsley

1 tablespoon thyme or marjoram


beaten egg

breadcrumbs and fat for frying

Saute the finely diced onion and bacon until the onion is soft. Add the rest of the ingredients and bind together with the beaten egg. Shape into balls. Dip the balls in egg and breadcrumbs  and fry in shallow fat until golden brown.

 RAL 132 AQ (Roubaix)

Page from the Kitchen Account Book showing list of purchases including game

Page from the Kitchen Account Book showing list of purchases including game