Lived at Tring Park, Hertfordshire from 1873 until 1915
8th November 1840
31st March 1915
Nathan Rothschild, 1st Baron Rothschild,was the grandson of Nathan Mayer Rothschild, founder of the English branch of the pan-European banking dynasty. He combined his financial career with the life of the country gentleman, and was the first adherent of the Jewish faith to be given a peerage.
“Natty” went up to Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1859 where he encountered the Prince of Wales. In 1867 he married his cousin Emma, who bore two sons and a daughter. In 1872, as part of the family’s drive to establish country roots and influence, his father Lionel bought the Tring Park estate for him (and the nearby Halton estate for his brother Alfred). The Mansion in Tring Park, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, was duly enlarged, probably by the architect George Devey.
Natty was renowned for his public spirit and generosity. Notwithstanding his support for free enterprise, he embarked on a major programme of housing and improvement across his estate, effected by his agent Richardson Carr and the architect William Huckvale. A hospital and nursing service, allotments and recreation grounds were among the facilities he provided. The estate became renowned for its Jersey cattle and its Shire horse stud, and for hosting the annual one day Tring Show, precursor of the Herts Show.
His elder son Walter was a distinguished if eccentric zoologist, for whom Natty provided the resources to build his own museum and finance his collectors around the world. They became estranged, and it was the younger son Charles, a major figure in the world of nature conservation, who inherited the estate.
A shrewd but cautious financier, Natty was the head of London’s leading business house, but he will probably be better remembered as a statesman whose advice was sought by leading political figures such as Benjamin Disraeli, Balfour and Lloyd George.
Dear Lord Rothschild by Miriam Rothschild. Published by Hutchinson, 1983
Charlotte & Lionel by Stanley Weintraub. Published by Simon & Schuster, 2003
The World’s Banker by Niall Ferguson. Published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1998
Lord Rothschild’s greatest benefaction is his son’s zoological museum. Now known as The Natural History Museum at Tring (Akeman Street, Tring, Herts. HP23 6AP, tel. 020 7942 6171), it is open daily, admission free.
Although the Mansion at Tring (now Tring Park School for the Performing Arts) is not open to the public, it is clearly visible from Tring Park (owned by the Woodland Trust), which is accessible by footpaths (OS ref SP930107), and from the Ridgeway National Trail.
Tring contains many examples of Lord Rothschild’s estate architecture, including the Rose and Crown Inn in the High Street and the Louisa Cottages almshouses in Park Road. A Town Trail leaflet can be obtained from Tring Information Centre. Nearby villages such as Hastoe, Wigginton and Wilstone have numerous examples of estate farmhouses and cottages.