An enduring passion
Rothschild gardens mixed formal design with exuberant planting of trees and flowers, in a style characteristic of the late Victorian/Edwardian era. A love of exotic plants necessitated the building of huge heated greenhouses, allowing skilled Rothschild horticulturalists to create new hybrids, many named after the family.
The creation and maintenance of an exquisite garden was part of the portfolio of interests that enabled the Rothschilds to take their place as country squires. It was expected of them as responsible estate managers, and was another way in which they could display their wealth, fashionable taste and attention to detail; a finely planned garden could be used to entertain both friends and business contacts, and a good kitchen garden ensured a generous table.
Visit our online exhibition Rothschild Gardens to discover more about the Rothschilds and their horticultural creations.
For a detailed account of the history of selected Rothschild gardens and estates, see Rothschild Gardens by Miriam Rothschild, Kate Garton and Lionel de Rothschild (London: Gaia Books, 1996).
Records of Rothschild gardens
The Rothschild Archive has comparatively few records relating to the estates and private houses of the Rothschild family. Large quantities of private and estate records are known to have been destroyed, and many of the Rothschilds requested that personal records be destroyed upon their death. As houses and estates were sold or re-developed, many records of the minutiae of domestic life have been lost including papers relating to the design, creation and management of gardens. Regrettably, many papers concerning the gardens at Ashton Wold, Tring Park, and the Tring Museum of Walter Rothschild were destroyed during the Second World War.
The Rothschild Archive has a few records concerning the gardens at Gunnersbury, including some designs for garden buildings and a gardener's notebook from the 1890s and also holds a number of domestic invoices and receipts for horticultural supplies provided to the Gunnersbury estate. The Archive holds a photograph album compiled by Mr Warren, Head gardener at Aston Clinton at the turn of the century, and has recently acquired papers concerning orchid growing at Exbury. Correspondence of Lionel de Rothschild (1882-1942) with noted plant-hunters is preserved in his series of bank papers, RAL XI/15.
Papers concerning the administration of, and expenditure on, gardens of French family estates will be found in two important deposits of papers ('The Lafite papers') relating to the family in France, dating from the late 19th century to the 1930s.
For more information please contact The Rothschild Archive.