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Edmund de Rothschild (1916-2009)

Edmund Leopold de Rothschild was born in London, at 46 Park Street, Mayfair, in 1916, the first son of Lionel de Rothschild (1882-1942) and Marie-Louise née Beer (1892-1975). He was brought up at Exbury House, the estate his father acquired in late 1918, bounded by the New Forest, The Solent and the Beaulieu river.  He  was educated at Harrow and Trinity College, Cambridge.  Part of every summer holiday was spent cruising Europe's coastline aboard his father's yachts, Rhodora I and II. After Cambridge, in 1937 Eddy was sent by his father on an 18-month tour around the world, of which he published an account as Window on the World (1949).  

N M Rothschild & Sons

He returned to England in May 1939 and worked at N M Rothschild & Sons until the outbreak of war in September. In 1935 he had joined the Royal Bucks Yeomanry. After the war, Mr Eddy, as he was known by the staff re-jpoined the bank, becoming its effective head in 1955, when his uncle Anthony suffered a severe stroke.  A partner from 1947, he became senior partner in 1960 and Chairman of the bank in 1970, when N M Rothschild & Sons relinquished its private partnership status.  He presided over the bank's transition from a highly conservative family firm to a modern institution, and over the demolition and rebuilding of the bank premises ‘New Court’. He opened the partnership to non-family members, beginning with David Colville, brother of Sir John Colville, Churchill's private secretary. From 1952, Eddy’s chief preoccupation was with what was then the most costly project ever undertaken by private enterprise: the development of the vast hydroelectric potential of the Hamilton (later Churchill) Falls in Labrador. He stepped down as chairman in 1975, to be succeeded briefly by his cousin Victor, 3rd Lord Rothschild, and then by his cousin Sir Evelyn de Rothschild. 

Exbury Gardens and charitable work

After his return from the Second World War, Edmund set about the restoration of Exbury Gardens in Hampshire, the 260-acre woodland garden created by his father Lionel in the 1920s and 1930s.  The gardens had been greatly neglected during the war. 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.

Eddy worked hard for charitable causes, in particular the Queen's Nursing Institute, of which he was a trustee, the Not Forgotten Association, and the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women, of which he was for many years president.  He was a vice-president of the Council of Christians and Jews. He held the Territorial Decoration, and was appointed CBE in the New Year's Honours, 1997.  In 2005 he received the Royal Horticultural Society's highest award, the Victoria Medal of Honour. His autobiography, A Gilt-Edged Life, written with George Ireland, was published in 1998.

Edmund de Rothschild married Elizabeth Lentner (1923-1980) in 1948, and together they had four children; Katherine, Nicholas, Charlotte and David Lionel. In 1982, he married Anne Harrison (née Kitching) (1921-2012). Mr Eddy died on 17 January 2009, aged 93.

Edmund de Rothschild, sundry artefacts, c.1944-1975

000/1975, 7 items

Sundry artefacts of Edmund de Rothschild: lapel badge of AJEX (The Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women); Queens Institute of District Nursing badge for 21 years of Administrative Service (engraved on reverse ‘E L de Rothschild’); Rosary beads, with accompanying note in the hand of ELdeR, ‘Box 225 15/1/47 Rosary given to me by The Pope at the Vatican Rome by his own hand 1944’; printer’s blocks of the signatures of Anthony de Rothschild, Edmund de Rothshild and the five arrows shield. For further artefacts see 000/1018.

Edmund de Rothschild, artefacts, medal collection, c.1950-1980

000/1181, 2 boxes

Collection of late twentieth century medals and other commemorative medallions and items collected by Edmund de Rothschild.

List available

Edmund de Rothschild, artefacts, The Japanese Imperial Order of the Sacred Treasure, 1st Class, 1973

000/1906, 2 items

The Japanese Imperial Order of the Sacred Treasure, 1st Class (Grand Cordon) awarded to Mr Edmund de Rothschild. The Order of the Sacred Treasure is a Japanese Order, established on 4 January 1888 by Emperor Meiji as the Order of Meiji. The award is bestowed upon individuals of merit, in recognition of their national or public services, & in honor of their distinguished accomplishments in various areas of society. Two types of decoration are awarded to foreigners; ceremonial decorations presented to state guests upon arrival or to diplomats leaving office & decorations conferred on foreigners who made notable contributions to enhance bilateral relations. Always open to new opportunities, Mr Eddy learnt Japanese in 1960s and was a key member of a City of London delegation to Japan in 1962 to reopen commercial ties. Mr Eddy maintained close links with Japan, visiting many times. The Order of the Sacred Treasure, one of Japan’s highest honours, was conferred upon him in 1973 by Emperor Hirohito “in full recognition of your great contributions in the international monetary field to the economic and industrial development of Japan and the ceaseless endeavours you have devoted to the promotion of Japanese-British friendship”. 

Edmund de Rothschild, private papers, 1799; 1900-2007

000/1018; 000/1594; 000/1975; 000/1976, 163 boxes, 10 items, 1 tin trunk

Papers and artefacts relating to the life and work of Edmund de Rothschild, including papers of the Exbury Estate, Jewish affairs, other business and charitable involvements and family matters, papers relating to his parents, Mr Edmund de Rothschild’s World Tour 1937-1939, and his later wartime service, and family photographs. Includes some papers concerning NMR, and other business matters including Churchill Falls and BRINCO and Straflo. 000/1594 is a small tin trunk containing letters retained by Mr Eddy because they were important to him, including letters addressed to his father, Lionel de Rothschild, by acquaintances; letters addressed to his father by his mother and all the children; letters to Mr Eddy by notable persons, including two private letters (dated 1942 and 1945) from Winston Churchill to Mr Eddy thanking him for gifts of cigars and rhododendrons, and offering his condolences on the death of Mr Eddy's father, Lionel de Rothschild (1882-1942). Note most papers are closed.

Edmund de Rothschild, private papers, contents of 'Box 225' and box '225A', 1946-1994

000/1532, 2 boxes

Contents of a private tin trunk formerly held in the vault at New Court: Box 225 and Box 225A, private boxes of Edmund de Rothschild, containing papers relating to his life and career: Box 225, private papers including  an envelope containing 11 currency notes received by Captain Edmund L de Rothschild, 11th Oct 1943; certificate of Post-War Credit in the name of E L de Rothschild, 1948; prescription and blood test results for Mr Ed L de Rothschild, 1948; two framed letters from Winston Churchill concerning shares he had purchased in BRINCO, 1956; 1957; letters exchanged between Mr Edmund de Rothschild and Mr R.W.C. Hobbs, 1963; letter concerning valuation of The Watering Place by A. Cuyp, 1966 (with postcard of the painting); letter concerning marriage gift from Mr Edmund de Rothschild to his daughter Kate, 1971; letters  to Mr Nicholas de Rothschild concerning Purdey guns, 1972. Box 225A, private papers including including numerous certificates and diplomas, honorary awards, letters from members of the Royal Families of Europe and other notable individuals, together with photographs and family memorabilia. 

Edmund de Rothschild, private papers, contents of 'Box 233' and 'Box 235', World Tour diaries, 1937-c.1945

000/1243, 1 tin trunk, 1 box

Contents of a tin trunk labelled ‘Edmund L de Rothschild, 233’ containing material concerning Mr Edmund de Rothschild’s world voyage in the 1930s. Includes silver-backed diaries and drafts of Mr Eddy’s book ‘Window on the World’ (some drafts marked with early title’ The Great Globe Itself’; leather diary for 1937; silver Diary for 1937; silver Diary for 1939; silver Diary for 1941; seven volumes of drafts for ‘Window on the World’; Four envelopes containing slides in silver mounts. Contents of a tin trunk, "Edmund L de Rothschild (Book) 235", containing War diary to 11 May 1940; diary of round the world trip, from January 1939; letters home from travels, 1938 onwards, together with typed transcripts of some of them. Typed diary of round the world trip, labelled ‘Copy of Diary 1937-1939’ and folder ‘Diary Africa and America’.

Edmund de Rothschild, private papers, contents of 'Box 463', World Tour, sundry papers, 1937-1939

000/1535, 5 boxes

Contents of a tin trunk formerly held in the vault at New Court: Box 463, 'Various odd papers, maps etc. regarding Mr Edmund de Rothschild's world tour 1937-1939'. Includes brochures, photographs, correspondence, itineraries, maps, press cuttings and a snake skin. The countries visited by Edmund de Rothschild include: in Africa: South Africa, Kenya; in South America: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia; New Zealand, Australia; in Asia: Bali, East Indies (Indonesia), French Indochina (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia), India, Burma and Afghanistan.

List available

Edmund de Rothschild, Royal correspondence, c.1950-c.1970

000/1601, 1 file

File of copy correspondence between Edmund de Rothschild and various members of royal familes concerning gifts from Exbury of azaleas, rhododendrons and other plants. The royal families concerned are British, Swedish, Danish and Japanese. 

Edmund de Rothschild, photographs, 1957-1960

000/892, 000/901, 000/1625, 3 items

Photograph of Mr and Mrs Edmund de Rothschild exiting a KLM jet, 1957; photograph of Mr and Mrs Edmund de Rothschild outside New Court, c.1960; colour photograph, originally published in the Jewish Chronicle, January 2006, showing Edmund de Rothschild, Jacque Weisser, Michael Martin MP (Speaker of the House of Commons), and Harold Newman at the Speakers House, House of Commons.  Edmund is being presented with a photograph of himself by AJEX (Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women) to mark his 90th birthday.

Edmund de Rothschild, horticultural papers, awards and competitions, 1930-2005

000/2227, 1 box

Papers of Lionel de Rothschild (1882-1942) and Edmund de Rothschild from Exbury concerning horticultural matters. Most of the papers are Royal Horticultural Society plaques, certificates and awards for growing and showing orchids and cymbidiums, awarded to Lionel de Rothschild, and Edmund de Rothschild. A few papers relate to local Hampshire shows: Medal Award plaques, 1930-1953; 1959; 1983; 1989; 1992; 1997; certificates of Merit, 1930-1952; 2004-2005; correspondence and papers concerning competitions, 1930-1939; 1947, 1982-1985, 2004; watercolour of an orchid 'Cym. Swallow Var.Phantasy, RHS A.M. April 2, 1935'.

Edmund de Rothschild, press cuttings, 1929-1998

000/601, 000/1245, 2 files

Collection of press cuttings collected by George Ireland during the preparation of A Gilt-Edged Life, the memoirs of Edmund de Rothschild. The cuttings concern Edmund (1929-1992), Edmund and Charlotte (n.d.); Exbury (1967); Elizabeth (1970); Walter and Tring (1931-1937); the Rothschild family and events of  the Second World War, including work for refugees and property sequestrations in Austria (1936-1960); N M Rothschild & Sons (1955-1996); obituaries of Anthony (1961); Churchill Falls (1996, 1980); obituary of Victor (1990); copy of Hello! magazine no.500, 14 March 1998 featuring an interview with Edmund de Rothschild.000/601 is a cutting from The Daily Telegraph concerning Edmund’s barmitzvah, 1929.

Edmund de Rothschild, press cuttings, 1996

000/527, 1 item

Hello! magazine, 2 November 1996, including photographs of Edmund, Leopold and Nicholas de Rothschild in fancy dress at the 70th birthday party of Lord Montagu of Beaulieu.  

Edmund de Rothschild, 80th Birthday Tributes, 1996

000/513, 1 item

Typed copy of a song written by Richard Stilgoe for Edmund de Rothschild's80th birthday, to the tune of “Burlington Bertie”.  Signed by Stilgoe.

Edmund de Rothschild, 90th Birthday Tribute Book, 2006

000/1678, 000/2295, 2 items

Edmund de Rothschild 90th Birthday Tribute Book, 2 January 2006 containing tributes and reminiscences from family and friends of Edmund de Rothschild. 000/1678 is a photocopy of the book.

Edmund de Rothschild, papers concerning his death, 2009

000/1914, 1 file

Papers concerning the death of Mr Edmund de Rothschild: order of Service for the funeral of Edmund Leopold de Rothschild; notice of the death of Edmund Leopold de Rothschild in 'The Rhododendron, Camellia & Magnolia Group' newsletter of the Royal Horticultural Society, Bulletin 99, March 2009; folder of newspaper and magazine obituaries for Edmund de Rothschild; transcripts of Eulogies given by Leopold de Rothschild, Michael Heseltine and Lord Guthrie at the Memorial Service for Mr. Edmund de Rothschild, Tuesday 21 April, 2009 at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue, London.