When Gardeners think of Rhododendrons and Azaleas you can be certain that Exbury will spring to mind! This tiny village must surely be in one of the loveliest places in Hampshire,  and is an ideal position adjacent to  the Solent coast and  overlooking the Beaulieu river. Exbury is on the Exbury estate and owned by the de Rothschild family whose Exbury gardens of 200 acres have the world famous collections of rhododendrons and azaleas. The village is situated on the edge of the New Forest a mile from Lepe Beach. Exbury House has been the main benefactor of this scattered village and is guilt of neo-Georgian design and is located in the grounds of the estate.T

he Mitford family owned the house in the 18th century and Lord Redsdale who is an heir of the family has turned the stone school next door to the church a family home. The house was also owned by Lord Forster when Governor General of Australia in 1919 and it was him who sold the house to Lionel de Rothschild of the banking family, and it is his son Edmund de Rothschild that owns the house today

The main centre of the village by the church comprises of cottages that were originally built for the estate workers and the earlier ones were built of a strange yellow coloured brick that were made at a brickworks on the estate. A large number of gardeners and labourers were employed when the gardens were being designed and the greenhouses built and houses were built for them in the 1920s in red brick with toilets inside and later they had electricity installed.

The shop that stood on the T junction and which along with a  village club and post office was built by Mr de Rothschild has now been long closed,and is being turned into a dwelling but it has retained the bow windows.

St Katherine's Church, Exbury

Another view of St Katherine's church

St Katherine's church was bujilt in the 19th century and some of the stonework came from a monastic chapel which had once stood at Lower Exbury, and in the churchyard were graves of the Milford family and which later were removed and interred in a family vault when the church was renovated in 1907


The Forster memorial

The monument which really catches the eye of the visitor is the Forster memorial bronze in the Memorial Chapel and this has the figure of Alfred Forster son of Lord Forster laying recumbent on the top, he was a Lieutenant in the Royal Scots Greys and died of his wounds at the end of the First World War.

Memorial to John Forster

While Forster was i hospital he became friends with a young sculptor called Cecil Thomas and when peace finally came Lord and Lady Forster the parents of Alfred commissioned Cecil to design a memorial to Alfred and his elder brother John (see above) who was also killed in WWI. This bronze memorial was so impressive that it was taken and exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1924. The detail of the uniform is so well done that even the lacing of the boots can be seen.

At the Exbury Club in the interval between the two world wars amateur dramatics were held, a dance band played and whist were held for the workers of the estate and an annual children's party was held during the summer.

Emily Rachel Pitt-Rivers daughter of 1st Lord Forster of Lepe

Today the cottages are still occupied by the estate workers and a lot of modernisatio has been done but there are still those that only have an open coal fire. The village is very peaceful despite the thousands of visitors that descend here during the spring and summer months to see the world famous display  of rhododendrons and azaleas.

Lepe House, once an old inn and both Lepe House and Inchmerry House (the residence of the Dowager Countess De La Warr)',

Operation Bardsea was designed to use agents drawn from Monika as paratroopers specializing in sabotage and subversive activities in specific operations just behind bridgeheads on D-Day.........
The great rivalry for country houses between different departments and organizations caused prolonged negotiation. With the US forces building up strength in preparation for D-Day, the demand for housing was great. Eventually Bardsea operations became based in Inchmery House near Exbury in Hampshire in May 1943 and then moved to Erlestoke Park near Devises, as both locations were able to offer gyms and field firing facilities.

Lymington News

"Solicitors worked hard into the evening of Tuesday in last week to complete the sale for more than a million pounds, of Inchmery House, Exbury, to a London development company, which took a gamble that it could get permission to convert it into luxury flats. But the next day the gamble failed, when New Forest planners rejected the proposal for seven flats in the former Rothschild family home. It seems likely that this unnamed company will add
to its stake with an appeal against the decision.

Three companies had been interested in the property with Georgian origins, its 62 acres, lawns and gardens, heated swimming pool, views to the Isle of Wight across its foreshore and beach, stables flat and two cottages. But all wanted to get planning permission for change of use to flats, and only one was accepted. In the words of Mr Stephen Montague-Jones, for estate agents Jackson & Jackson, "to take a ...." and buy it before the application went before New Forest District Council's Development Committee.

In fact it seems that had it not been for local authority planners, Inchmery would be the Exbury Gardens of today. It was built in about 1780 as the dower house for Exbury House, the principal residence. In 1912 it was purchased by Lionel de Rothschild, father of the man who has just sold it, Edmund de Rothschild, as part of the small Inchmery Estate. "Mr Lionel" set about designing a garden of grandiose proportions based on Inchmery House, said Jackson and Jackson, but his great plans for Inchmery Gardens were frustrated by refusal of permission to close a road making an alternative route to Lepe.

The result was that in 1919 he bought the adjoining Exbury Estate and created the gardens, which now enjoy international fame. But Inchmery House remained the Rothschild's family home since then, and was only put on the market because the decision was taken to re-establish Exbury House as the principal family residence."

Inchmerry House, Exbury from the waterfront

The rear entrance to Inchmerry House,
the pentagon entrance replaces a square frontage.

The view from the garden of Inchmerry house showing the
mouth of the Beaulieu River to the right and the Isle of Wight on the horizon