Welcome toThe Rothschild Archive'swebsite

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

Exbury Gardens

The passion for gardens took hold on the Rothschild family, proving a more enduring interest than banking for many. One of the finest gardens created by the family was in England, at Exbury, on the Hampshire coast.

Lionel de Rothschild bought the Exbury estate in 1919 with the proceeds from the sale of his uncle Alfred’s house at Halton which he had inherited. It was Lionel’s gardening passion which led him to choose the Exbury estate. The climate was gentle and the soil was acid, ideal for the flowers which were to become his passion – rhododendrons.

The creation of Exbury's gardens

It was Lionel’s gardening passion which led him to choose the Exbury estate with its 2600 acres. The estate included some 250 acres of overgrown woodland. Labour was recruited in huge force to create the gardens: a team of 150 men and 60 trained gardeners were employed to clear the land, lay paths and manage the planting, and 22 miles of irrigation pipes were laid. Two acres of greenhouses were put up and a million plants were introduced. Lionel worked tirelessly to bring shapes and colours together to please the eye.  The village was expanded to house the massive workforce, and a water tower containing electric generators was installed to supply the village houses with water, and bring electricity to the manor house and greenhouses.  Here Lionel grew orchids and developed hundreds of new hybrid rhododendons and azaleas for which the estate has become famous. Lionel also remodelled Exbury House with neo-Georgian designs by William Jenkins, and he created an idyllic family home bounded by the New Forest, The Solent and the Beaulieu river for his wife, Marie-Louise Beer and his young family, Rosemary, Edmund, Naomi, and Leopold.

Exbury during the Second World War

Exbury House was called to play its part in the War effort. Renamed ‘HMS Mastodon’ (a stone frigate) under Royal Navy control, it became one of the key centres for the planning of the D-Day landings. Lionel de Rothschild died in 1942, aged just 60.

The restoration of Exbury

At the end of the War, it was left to Lionel’s son, Edmund, to roll back the years of  inevitable dereliction in the gardens. He did so with vigour and after his return from active service in 1946, he set about the restoration of Exbury Gardens. Over the next 50 years he replanted some three-quarters of the acreage, and produced several dozen new rhododendron hybrids. In 1955 he opened Exbury Gardens to the public.

Exbury today

The Gardens continue to be looked after and developed with loving care by the current generation of Exbury Rothschilds, and Exbury remains today not only a significant name in horticultural history but a living and colourful tribute to a passion. Today the Gardens and Steam Railway are a spectacular 200 acre (80 hectare) site, world-famous for the Rothschild Collection of rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, rare trees and shrubs. In 2019 Exbury celebrated its centenary year with special events, exhibitions and new gardens.

Exbury Gardens website » 

Rhododendron ‘Leo’named after Lionel de Rothschild’s son Leopold (1927-2012).

Rhododendron ‘Leo’named after Lionel de Rothschild’s son Leopold (1927-2012).

Lionel Nathan de Rothschild (1882-1942)

Lionel Nathan de Rothschild (1882-1942)