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Edmund Leopold 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-joined 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, medallion and coin collection, c.1950-1980

000/1181, 2 boxes

Collection of late twentieth century medals and other commemorative medallions, coins and other commemorative 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, 'World Tour' 1937-1939', diaries and sundry papers, 1937-c.1945

000/1243, 1 tin trunk, 1 box

In 1937, Edmund de Rothschild was sent by his father on an 18-month tour around the world. Drawing on the diaries he kept during his travels, he later published and account of his experiences, Window on the World, (London: Peter Davis, 1949).

Contents of a tin trunk formerly held in the vault at New Court:  ‘Edmund L de Rothschild, 233’ containing material concerning Mr Edmund de Rothschild’s World Tour in the 1930s.

  • Mr Edmund's private diaries: leather diary for 1937; silver Diary for 1937; silver Diary for 1939; silver Diary for 1941; 
  • Drafts of the text for ‘Window on the World’ (some drafts marked with an early title, 'The Great Globe Itself’; seven volumes of drafts for ‘Window on the World’; 
  • Four envelopes containing slides in silver mounts. 

Contents of a tin trunk formerly held in the vault at New Court:  ‘Edmund L de Rothschild, 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’.
  • six packets of small photographs of people, views etc., marked in pencil ‘India/Delhi’, ‘India (North)’, ‘India (Rashmi)’, ‘India (Gwalior)’, ‘Puri, Darjeeling, Mysore’ and ‘Afghanistan’.

Edmund de Rothschild, private papers, 'World Tour' 1937-1939', sundry papers, 1937-1939

000/1535, 5 boxes

In 1937, Edmund de Rothschild was sent by his father on an 18-month tour around the world. Drawing on the diaries he kept during his travels, he later published and account of his experiences, Window on the World, (London: Peter Davis, 1949).

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 correspondence, brochures, photographs, itineraries, maps, press cuttings and a souvenir snake skin. The countries visited by Edmund de Rothschild included in South Africa, Kenya, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia, New Zealand, Australia, Bali, The East Indies (Indonesia), French Indochina (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia), India, Burma and Afghanistan.

Edmund de Rothschild, private papers, c.1939-1945; 1994

000/1594, 1 tin trunk

Private correspondence of Mr Edmund de Rothschild, being the contents of a small tin trunk kept in the New Court vaults. The trunk (which has been retained as part of this accession) contains letters retained by Mr Edmund because they were important to him, including letters addressed to his father, Lionel de Rothschild (1882-1942), by acquaintances; letters addressed to his father by his mother Mariew-Louise, Mrs Lionel de Rothschild (née Beer) (1892-1975) and all their children; letters to Mr Edmund from 'notable persons', including two private letters (dated 1942 and 1945) from Winston Churchill  thanking him for gifts of cigars and rhododendrons, and offering his condolences on the death of Mr Edmund's father, Lionel. [Note most papers are closed].

Edmund de Rothschild, private papers, 1946-1994

000/1532, 2 boxes

Private papers of Mr Edmund de Rothschild, the contents of 'Box 225' and box '225A', tin trunks formerly held in the vaults at New Court: 

  • Box 225, private papers of Mr Edmund de Rothschild, 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; sundry private family correspondence;
  • Box 225A, private papers of Mr Edmund de Rothschild, 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, 1799; 1900-2007

000/1018; 000/1975; 000/1976, 163 boxes, 10 items,

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. Item 000/1018/429, dated c.1799, is a framed original map of ‘British America comprehending Canada, Labrador, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia etc.’, believed to have been given to Mr Edmund de Rothschild as a gift, commemorating the Churchill Falls project. [Note most papers are closed].

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, sundry photographs, 1957; 1960; 1975; 2006

000/892, 000/901, 000/1150, 000/1625, 12 items

Edmund de Rothschild, sundry photogarphs:

  • Mr and Mrs Edmund de Rothschild exiting a KLM jet, 1957;
  • Mr and Mrs Edmund de Rothschild outside New Court, c.1960;
  • six photographs of the Signing Ceremony between NMR and Nippon Fudosan Bank, 1975 featuring Mr. Edmund de Rothschild and Tatsuo Shoda, President of NFB;
  • three photographs taken of the visit of Tatsuo Shoda to Exbury, c.1975
  • 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 de Rothschild 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, sundry press cuttings, 1929-1998

000/527, 000/601, 000/1245, 2 files, 1 item

Sundry press cuttings concerning Mr Edmund de Rothschild:

  • Cutting from The Daily Telegraph concerning Edmund de Rothschild’s barmitzvah, 1929. (000/601)
  • 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 Mr Edmund de Rothschild and the family at Exbury; 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); Churchill Falls; obituaries of Anthony Gustav de Rothschild (1887-1961) and Victor, 3rd Lord Rothschild (1910-1990) (000/1245)
  • Copy of Hello! magazine no.500, 14 March 1998 featuring an interview with Edmund de Rothschild. (000/1245)
  • Copy of 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. (000/527)

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, memorial papers, 2009

000/1914, 1 file

Edmund de Rothschild (1916-2009): memorial papers:

  • 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;
  • Order of Service for the funeral of Edmund Leopold de Rothschild held Tuesday 21 April, 2009 at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue, London;
  • Transcripts of Eulogies given by Leopold de Rothschild (1927-2012), Michael Heseltine and Lord Guthrie at the Memorial Service for Mr. Edmund de Rothschild, Tuesday 21 April, 2009 at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue, London.

Edmund de Rothschild, published memoirs, 'Window on the World', 1949

000/2728/1, 1 volume

Window on the World, Edmund de Rothschild (London, Peter Davis, 1949). In 1937, Edmund de Rothschild was sent by his father on an 18-month tour around the world. Drawing on the diaries he kept during his travels, he later published an account of his experiences as Window on the World. See 000/1243 and 000/1535 for original diaries, papers and other documents relating to Mr Edmund's World Tour.

Edmund de Rothschild, published memoirs, 'A Gilt-edged Life: memoir', 1998

000/2728/2, 1 volume

A Gilt-edged Life: memoir, Edmund de Rothschild  (London: John Murray, 1998). Mr Edmund's memoirs, recalling his early life, his experiences as a Partner, then  Senior Partner and Chairman of N M Rothschild & Sons and N M Rothschild & Sons Limited, the development of the 'Churchill Falls' project, his wartime service and the restoration and enjoyment of his beloved Exbury.

Edmund de Rothschild, secondary sources, 'Meridien News', 1995

000/405, 1 VHS cassette

Recording of a news item about Edmund de Rothschild at Exbury, broadcast on Meridien News, 4 January 1995.

Edmund de Rothschild, secondary sources, 'War Stories', 1999

000/766, 1 VHS cassette

Recording of an episode from the Discovery Channel’s War Stories series of documentaries c.1999. This episode features The Jewish Brigade, and Mr Edmund de Rothschild.