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Exbury estate, Hampshire

Lionel de Rothschild (1882-1942) 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 with its 2600 acres. The climate was gentle here and the soil was acid, ideal for the flowers which were to become his passion – the rhododendrons. Here Lionel grew orchids and developed hundreds of new hybrid rhododendons and azaleas for which the estate has become famous. Lionel 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 and his young family, Rosemary, Edmund, Naomi, and Leopold.

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. 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. In 1946, he set about the restoration of Exbury Gardens, opened Exbury Gardens to the public in 1955. 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.

See also Named Collections: The Exbury Collection.

Estates: Exbury estate, Account Books, 38 series, 1919-1950

000/2198, 4 boxes

Estate accounts and balance sheets in the NMR 38 series: Exbury Estate and Home Farm, Inchmery Home Farm, Exbury Home Farms, Exbury Estate, 1919-1938; Estate accounts and balance sheets: Exbury Estate Farms, 1942-1950. 

Estates: Exbury estate, artefacts, 1965

000/2598, 1 item

Small framed amateur painting 'Rustic Bridge, Exbury' by D. Harris, 1965. Acrylic/oil, possibly by Doug Harris, a former head gardener at Exbury.

Estates: Exbury estate, estate papers, 1920

000/1330, 1 item

Exbury improvements, 1920: typescript copy of draft instructions to counsel concerning Alfred de Rothschild (deceased) and Exbury Improvements, 1920, drawn up by Linklaters & Paines.  The matter in hand concerns the proceeds of the sale of Halton being made available to Lionel de Rothschild for improvements to Exbury estate he bought in 1919 after selling Halton.

Estates: Exbury estate, maps, 1908

000/1429, 1 item

Copy of the third edition Ordnance Survey map Sheet 81.7, 1908, showing Exbury.

Estates: Exbury estate, Ordnance Survey Photo Mosaic Sheet, Exbury, c.1945; 1947

000/1228, 2 items

Black and white aerial photographs, reproduced from the Ordnance Survey Air Photo Mosaic Sheets (1944-1951) 1:10,560, held at the British Library: Exbury. April 1949. (41/40 SW); Exbury. c.1945. (40/49 NW).

Estates: Exbury estate, photographs, 1923-1925

000/1405, 1 volume

Photograph album, possibly compiled by a temporary nanny at Exbury.  The album includes some photos of Exbury, Gunnersbury and Ascott [Note: many items unrelated to the Rothschild family].

Estates: Exbury estate, photographs, 1931

000/2221, 1 file

Copies of postcards marking the visit of HRH King George V and HRH Queen Mary to Exbury, 31 July 1931: The Royal Party (led by Queen Mary) walking along the specially constructed jetty at Exbury; The King meeting persons unknown; The King in the Royal car.

Estates: Exbury Estates, press cuttings, 2012-2018

000/2647, 1 folder

Exbury Gardens: collection of press cuttings, press adverts and articles in national and local press concerning the Gardens, 2012-2018.

Estates: Exbury Estate, sundry papers, 1938; 1973

000/1233, 2 items

Pamphlet, Introduction to the Exbury Gardens and an article written in April 1973 for  Hampshire: the county magazine by Edmund de Rothschild; letter addressed to Edmund de Rothschild dated 4 March 1997 concerning memories of working at Exbury from 1927 to 1938.

Estates: Exbury estate, visitors’ books, 1926-2007

000/2017, 000/2123, 3 items

Exbury House and Inchmery House visitors’ books covering the period 1926-2007: Exbury House visitors' book, June 1923-September 1973 (photocopy); Exbury House and Inchmery House visitors' book, covering Exbury House June 1923-June 1934 and Inchmery House October 1973-Jan 1988 and Exbury House May 1989-June 2007 (photocopy and original volume).

Estates: Exbury estate, visitors’ books, Rhodora , 1925-1937

000/2123, 1 volume

Visitors’ book from the Rhodora, the steam yacht owned by Lionel de Rothschild (1882-1942).

Estates: Exbury estate, secondary sources, 1942; 1988

000/457, 2 items

Copies of two articles on Exbury from Country Life, 13 February 1942 and 26 May 1988.

Estates: Exbury estate, secondary sources, 1951; 1998

000/1449, 2 items

Town and Country, May 1951, which contains an article on Exbury by Major P. N. Barber; Hello, No. 500, 14 March 1998 which contains an article on Edmund de Rothschild and Exbury Gardens.

Estates: Exbury estate, secondary sources, 1988

000/2222, 1 item

London Portrait, Living August 1988 containing an article 'Edmund's Ecology: James Preston talks to Edmund de Rothschild about the beauty of Exbury Gardens'.

Estates: Exbury estate, secondary sources, 2002

000/1113, 1 item

Historic House magazine, Summer 2002, featuring an article on Exbury by Lionel de Rothschild.

Estates: Exbury estate, secondary sources, 2005

000/1534, 1 item

Hampshire, the county magazine, March 2005 containing an interview with Edmund de Rothschild about the gardens, by Rachel Foster: "Exbury's 50 glorious years".

Estates: Exbury estate, secondary sources, 2008

000/1918, 1 item

Hampshire, the county magazine, May 2008, with article entitled "Our Lovely Exbury Garden" by Charlotte de Rothschild.

Estates: Exbury estate, secondary sources, 2011

000/2115, 1 item

Russian magazine containing an article about Exbury Gardens, May, 2011.

Exbury Gardens, Hampshire

Estates: Exbury estate, Exbury Gardens, artefacts, 2001

000/958, 000/1049, 3 items

Gift tin, containing fudge (missing), from Exbury. Designed to represent Exbury House, featuring Mr and Mrs Edmund de Rothschild;Exbury card and notecard featuring views of the gardens.

Estates: Exbury estate, Exbury Gardens, photographs, c.1950-1990

000/2527, 69 images

Collection of digital images of photographs and slides of events at Exbury Gardens, c.1950-c.1990. Events include the opening of improvements to the gardens, and tree-planting by members of the Royal family including Her Majesty the Queen, HM The Queen Mother and RH The Prince and Princess of Wales. Other images depict work on the gardens and the estate.The digital images were deposited with the Archuve by Steven Betteridge. Mr Betteridge's father, Doug Betteridge was Head Gardener at Exbury, 1970s-1990s. His mother Pearl also assisted at the Gardens and there are photographs of her taking money at the gate in the 1970s, as well as images of staff events in the 1950s, such as harvest festival and staff parties. Included in the images is a black and white postcard of Exbury village c.1900. Collection of digital images taken from slides collected by Audrey Wyniatt depicting Exbury Gardens and estate staff at work, and views of the estate. 

Estates: Exbury estate, Exbury Gardens, press cuttings, 1930

000/1100, 1 item

Newspaper cutting from the Hampshire Advertiser, May 1930 concerning a letter written to the Hampshire Advertiser by Lionel de Rothschild, 27 May 1930, announcing that the gardens at Exbury will be opened 'every Wednesday afternoon between the hours of 3 and 6 from 4th June to 9th July, 1930, the revenue going to the Southampton Hospital Re-Building Fund.  

Estates: Exbury estate, Exbury Gardens, publications, 1982-c.2005

000/2577, 8 items

Exbury Gardens Publications: Our Exbury, A.J.Holland and Edmund de Rothschild (Paul Cave Publications, Southampton, 1982); Exbury Gardens Guide Book, (Exbury Gardens Limited, 1988); Exbury Gardens Guide Book, (Exbury Gardens Limited, c.1995); Exbury Gardens Nurseries, Plant Catalogue 1997/98, (Exbury Gardens Limited, 1997); Exbury Gardens Guide Book, (Exbury Gardens Limited, c.2005).

Estates: Exbury estate, Exbury Gardens, tree plantings, 1934-2004

000/1660, 1 CD-Rom

CD of digital images of trees and plaques for trees planted by notable people in the garden at Exbury, 1934-2004. Includes trees planted by Queen Elizabeth II, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, Prince Charles, Princess Diana and Princess Margaret. Other Royal families including the King of Sweden (1955), and the Queen of Bhutan (1967). Also trees planted for Edmund de Rothschild's 21st Birthday, Kate Agius's 50th Birthday and Rosemary Seys's 90th Birthday.

Estates: Exbury estate, Exbury Gardens, secondary sources, 1982

000/0287, 1 VHS cassette

Video The Glory of the Garden, 1982 produced by Nicholas de Rothschild, a special feature on Exbury.

Estates: Exbury estate, Exbury Gardens, secondary sources , 2002

000/1046, 2VHS cassettes, 1 DVD

Video Heaven with the Gates Open, 2002 produced by Nicholas de Rothschild, featuring Exbury Gardens.

Estates: Exbury estate, Exbury Gardens, secondary sources, 3 VHS cassettes, 1 DVD

000/1080; 000/1869, 3 VHS cassette tapes, 1 DVD

Videos recording the construction of the Exbury Steam Railway (2000-2001); The Dream That Became Steam. One draft version, two copies of the final version. Narrated by Mr Leopold de Rothschild; DVD Exbury Gardens Railway narrated by Leopold de Rothschild.

HMS Mastodon, (Exbury estate), Hampshire

Estates: Exbury estate, HMS Mastodon, Oral History Project, 1994

000/392, 13 cassette tapes

Recordings of the Oral History Project carried out in connection with Exbury’s D-Day 50th Anniversary Commemorative Event, June 1994.

Estates: Exbury estate, HMS Mastodon, secondary sources, 2004

000/2138, 1 item

A brief history of Exbury during World War II 1939-1945 (HMS Mastodon 1942-1945) compiled by Nicholas de Rothschild for Exbury's D-Day 60th Anniversary Commemorative Event, June 2004.

Inchmery House, Hampshire

Estates: Exbury estate, Inchmery House, plans , c.1920-1930

000/2258, 5 items

Plans of the Inchmery House and the Inchmery estate, showing proposed redevelopments, c.1920s-1930s. The proposed redevelopment was not executed.