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Leonora, Baroness Mayer Alphonse de Rothschild (née de Rothschild) (1837-1911)

Leonora de Rothschild, born in London on 25 August 1837, was the eldest child of Lionel and Charlotte de Rothschild. She left London for Paris after her wedding at Gunnersbury to her cousin Alphonse on 4 March 1857. On the rue Saint Florentin and at the races, Alphonse and Leonora were one of the most glamorous couples of their day. Considered by Queen Victoria to be one of the beauties of her generation, the 'lovely' Leonora had liquid almond- shaped eyes, the sweet complexion of a tea rose'. Her popularity in Paris never swayed her away from her Englishness. Her sister Evelina remarked, '"Laurie will be an Englishwoman wherever she is."

Leonora's passion for the English countryside led to the formation of a stag hunt at Ferrières, but even this was no substitute for regular visits to England. She once crossed the Channel three times in one week in order to fit in a visit to her London dentist and still be by Alphonse's side at the races. Leonora largely withdrew from society after Alphonse's death, but she regularly rode in the Bois de Boulogne. After one such outing, she contracted pneumonia which proved fatal on 6 January 1911.

Leonora de Rothschild, correspondence, c.1857-1871

000/37, 461 items

This collection of letters to her parents and siblings from Leonora reveals much about family life and little about external events. A typical letter from 1870 begins, "I have to thank you for several kind letters. I suppose you have the same warm weather in England as we have here. It is most oppressive and takes all one's ideas away and makes one feel heavy and unusually stupid. How I pity these unfortunate soldiers marching under this tropical sun to death and misery!" The letters are generally undated.

Transcripts (extracts) available in the Reading Room

Leonora and Alphonse de Rothschild, marriage reports, 1857

000/2299, 000/200, 3 items

Leonora married her French cousin Mayer Alphonse (Alphonse) de Rothschild (1827-1905) on 4 March 1857. The wedding took place at Gunnersbury. 000/2299 contains two framed examples of a hand tinted engraving printed in The Illustrated London News, Supplement, 14 March 1857, showing the 'Marriage ceremonial of the Baron Alphonse de Rothschild and Miss Leonora Rothschild: the Bridegroom breaking the wine-cup'. Further illustrations from the Illustrated Times, 14 March 1857, depicting the wedding banquet and the display of the wedding presents at Gunnersbury will be found pasted into the Gunnersbury volume in 000/200/1.