The de Rothschilds at Exbury


Founded by Mayer Amschel, a coin dealer in the ghetto of Frankfurt, the present dynasty of the Rothschild family, started by his five sons, spread throughout Europe in the 1800s. The name Rothschild derives from the German for “red shield” and was first adopted as a family surname in the late 1600s. The family’s coat of arms of five arrows, representing the five brothers, was granted in 1822 by the Austro-Hungarian Emperor with its motto “Concordia, Industria, Integritas,” which means Harmony, Industriousness, Integrity, a slogan that has held it in good stead ever since.

Lionel de Rothschild had been very interested in horticulture from an early age. In 1919 he started to build Exbury Gardens: the result was to be one of the most ambitious enterprises of its kind to take place in the last century – the creation of a private woodland garden covering 250 acres. In the ^ years before his death in 1942, he assembled a celebrated collection of rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, magnolias and other shrubs and trees.

The work Lionel started was continued, first by his sons Edmund and Leopold and now by subsequent generations, who have raised new Exbury hybrids, added new features and maintained the high standards of his great achievement.

The eldest of the current generation involved in caring for the Gardens – all Edmund’s children - is Kate (see below) an art historian, who has devoted much of her life to the museum sector having been chair of the Patron’s of the British Museum and currently a trustee of the Wallace Collection.



Next comes Nicholas (see below) an author and documentary maker. He takes a particular interest in Exbury’s collection of Nerines – perhaps the world’s largest – and is President of the Nerine and Amaryllid Society.

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Charlotte (see below) is an internationally renowned lyric soprano, specialising in the Art of Song which she performs in 23 languages.  Her extensive recordings include 4 CDs of Japanese kakyoku, Charlotte being the first foreigner to have promoted this beautiful music more details of which can be found here 

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Lionel (see below) a noted horticulturalist, is author of The Eighth Wonder of the World, the definitive history of the garden his grandfather (and namesake) created. He is chairman of the Exbury Gardens Trust, the endowment fund which supports the Gardens.

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Kate’s husband, Marcus Agius (see below), is chairman of Exbury Gardens Limited, the charity which manages the Gardens. He is a former Chairman of the Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

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Finally, Marie-Louise Agius (see below) is a successful landscape gardener and a Chelsea Flower Show Gold Medal winner. She designed the Centenary Garden.

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centenary opening
Lionel in car
The Prince of Wales meets gardener Emma Bouchard with gardener Paul Eaton and garden designer Marie-Louise Agius right in the Centenary Garden SML
Centenary Garden stone circle | Summer gardens | Exbury Gardens | New Forest, Hampshire

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Exbury Gardens is open 10am-5.30pm,  9th March - 3rd November 2024.

Visitors are welcome to purchase tickets for the gardens and steam train on arrival, or pre-book.