Welcome toThe Rothschild Archive'swebsite

Sources for business history: catalogues of bank files

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

Exhibition - Rothschild Gardens

16: Rothschilds and the plant hunters

A scientific endeavour

The creation of beautiful and exotic gardens was a serious undertaking. Charles Rothschild (1877-1923) considered himself a naturalist, rather than a horticulturist, and made many collecting expeditions around the world in pursuit of seeds and plants.

In 1918 Lionel de Rothschild bought the Exbury Estate on The Solent, near Southampton, with a view to creating an ambitious garden.  To obtain the rare and specialised plants he wanted to use, Lionel contributed financial sponsorship to the expeditions of some of the most famous plant hunters of the day. He was especially interested in rhododendrons and azaleas, for which Exbury has become famous. Many of these plants came from the wildest parts of China, Tibet, Burma, Assam and the Himalayas.  Seeds and specimens were sent back to Exbury for cultivation, and the plants were then used to produce new hybrids.

Frank Kingdon Ward

Lionel supported Frank Kingdon Ward (1885-1958) on many of his expeditions during which Kingdon Ward found many notable specimens and suffered many accidents, including being impaled on a bamboo spike, falling off a cliff and having his tent crushed by a tree in a storm.    

Sandy Wollaston

Lionel had helped fund the plant hunter Sandy Wollaston (1875-1930) on his Everest expedition in 1921, which was organised by the Royal Geographical Society.  

Arthur Kilpin Bulley 

Arthur K Bulley (1861-1942), a wealthy Liverpool cotton broker, was a regular correspondent of Lionel’s and another horticulturalist who supported the plant hunters’ expeditions. His Ness Gardens in Cheshire was planted with ‘new and rare out-of-the-way’ alpine and hardy flowers, which came from remote and wild areas of China, Burma, Tibet and India.

George Forrest  

George Forrest (1873-1932) was another plant hunter supported by Lionel. He qualified as a pharmacist, which introduced him to botany. A small legacy gave him the opportunity to travel. On his return to Scotland he began to work at the herbarium of the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh and eventually came to the attention of Bulley who was looking for someone to lead an expedition in the mountains of south-west China in 1904. All his companions were murdered by fierce local nationalists, and he alone escaped by sheer good fortune. This did not extinguish his appetite for exploring and thereafter he visited Yunnan many times until his sudden death in 1932.

Letter of introduction from the Royal Exotic Nursery for John Veitch to travel in Spain to collect plants

Letter of introduction from the Royal Exotic Nursery for John Veitch to travel in Spain to collect plants