Charlotte’s catalogue

Do join our on-line talk by Francesca Murray on 20 May 2021 at 6.30pm

Book a free ticket at

Our speaker has researched the Rothschild family’s passion for orchids at Gunnersbury, at Tring Park and at Exbury. The Rothschilds loved their gardens and many generations have indulged in the fashionable pastime of amassing collections of different plant species.

A page from Charlotte’s catalogue

The story begins at Gunnersbury (the first Rothschild garden in England) where Baroness Charlotte de Rothschild published a catalogue of her own rare orchids from around the world. Cultivating these strange exotics in the Gunnersbury glasshouses was highly experimental and devoted head gardeners shared their findings between the family estates.

Nathaniel de Rothschild and his son – the famous zoologist Walter Rothschild – took up orchidology at Tring Park too. Charlotte’s son, Leopold, presented George V with Gunnersbury orchids in a specially designed Fabergé vase for his Coronation. Leopold’s son, Lionel (1884-1942), developed his first garden at the age of 5, and took Gunnersbury orchids and rhododendrons with him to his new garden at Exbury, Hampshire, in 1919. There his experiments in the scientific field of orchid hybridisation had resulted in a fine collection of 28,000 plants by World War 2.

This astonishing story provides a glimpse of how the Rothschilds’ investment in their Gunnersbury gardens paid off for the benefit of the wider gardening community and is not to be missed!