Traditionally, boxes of cigars, poultry, game, pies, pâté, and fruit were sent from New Court to friends, business associates, charities and staff as seasonal gifts.
Among the many fine traditions of New Court is the gift of a turkey to the staff at Christmas. Although it cannot be pinpointed as to when exactly this festive tradition began, we know from records in the Archive that it has been continuing for over a century. There are three volumes in the Archive that list the gifts given by the Rothschild family, and the business of N M Rothschild & Sons at Christmas: the first from 1909, the second from 1912 and the third from 1931.
These three volumes, which have survived through the serendipitous nature of archives, are a charming insight into the philanthropic nature of the Rothschild family. Entries include gifts sent to societies such as ‘The Society of Friends for Foreigners in Distress in London’, numerous hospitals, the Lombard Street General Post Office staff, members of the Metropolitan Police and staff at various London railway stations. The first entry in the 1912 volume simply states “His Majesty, The King”, although sadly it does not list the gifts that were sent. The 1931 volume listing turkeys given to bank staff is divided into sections: Clerks 94, Refinery 17, Lady Clerks 36 and Pensioners 56. Today, of course, the company has grown, but this extraordinary tradition still survives.
Extract from Gift Book, 1909: N M Rothschild Refinery staff:
G. Dudoit Esq: 2 ox tongues, 200 cigars, 2 turkeys, 4 pheasants.
L. Arnould: 100 cigars, a turkey, 2 pheasants
G. Buess: 50 cigars, a turkey, 2 pheasants …
RAL reference: RAL 000/318