About the archive

The Rothschild Reserve documents

Between 1912-1915 Charles Rothschild co-ordinated a national survey of wildlife sites 'worthy of preservation' in Britain and Ireland. Rothschild had founded the Society for the Promotion of Nature Reserves (SPNR - now The Wildlife Trusts) in May 1912, with the objective of protecting places for wildlife (as nature reserves) in response to a decline in natural habitats as drainage, development and modernisation of agriculture began to change the British landscape.

The documentation for one of the Rothschild ReservesQuestionnaires on potential nature reserves were sent to landowners and local natural history societies across the country and the SPNR also despatched its members to carry out surveys on some sites to establish their wildlife value. In total 284 sites - known in this historical context as 'the Rothschild Reserves' - were identified as being 'worthy of preservation'. The resultant documentation was stored in Rothschild Bank blue envelopes - one envelope for each of the 284 sites. Along with a site questionnaire containing information on why the site was proposed as a potential nature reserve, the envelopes usually contain a map showing the area in question and, sometimes,  correspondence with landowners, land agents and the individual proposing the site.

This archive has remained in the Society's offices for the past 100 years and, as part of our centenary celebrations in 2012 we have digitised the survey documents and have made them available online. This will increase their lifespan and will make them publicly accessible for the first time.

Information for current 'Rothschild Reserve' site owners

Although some sites have been destroyed many of the Rothschild Reserves are now owned and managed by a range of organisations including The Wildlife Trusts, the National Trust, RSPB, statutory conservation agencies such as Natural England or Scottish Natural Heritage, local Friends Of groups and Commons Societies. We are keen to hear from the organisations who manage these sites today. If you would like to amend or add to the information we have on your site please contact us at rothschildreserves@wildlifetrusts.org. If you have any old photogrpahs we can add to our online gallery of Rothschild Reserves then please let us know.

Embedding survey documents on external websites

The pdf 'flipbooks' containing the survey documents can be embedded on third party websites by right clicking on the pdf flipbook and clicking on ‘copy embed code’ (see right). This can then be embedded in a third party website using that website’s content management system.

Information for copyright owners

We have made this archive available on a non-commercial basis. If you hold the copyright to any of the items in this archive please contact us at rothschildreserves@wildlifetrusts.org

Historic spellings

In many cases we have used the historic spellings used by the SPNR.

Contacting us

If you would like to contact us please email rothschildreserves@wildlifetrusts.org or call 01636 670063 (Adam Cormack).