The National Trust of Zimbabwe (NTZ) is very pleased to announce its latest publication:
After arriving in Zimbabwe (then Southern Rhodesia) in the early 1950s, British couple Sir Stephen and Lady Virginia Courtauld decided to make it their home. Fabulously wealthy and with diverse artistic and humanitarian interests, the Courtaulds built a striking home and gardens which they called La Rochelle. They bequeathed the property to the NTZ in 1970.
At La Rochelle the Courtaulds hosted an extraordinary range of visitors from all over the world and from many walks of life. Visitors were invited to sign their names with a diamond stylus on several glass window panels, and the hundreds of inscribed signatures have intrigued more recent visitors to La Rochelle.
Over the past seven years three volunteers have documented 898 signatures, aiming to learn a little about each individual – not an easy task given the problems of deciphering the signatures and the passage of time. The resulting publication provides a fascinating glimpse of signatories ranging from African nationalist activists, political figures from various parties, prominent musicians, dancers, actors and artists, historians, British aristocracy, local residents and more.
The project was initiated by a former guest and friend of the Courtaulds (and well known local botanist) Darrel Plowes and an Australian visitor to La Rochelle, Heather White. As Darrel’s health limited his involvement, his companion Nina Bauer, took on the research with Heather. The memories of local residents, along with extensive internet searching, have allowed the compilation of brief notes about many of the Courtaulds’ visitors, with web links and/or verified sources.
While much has been discovered, some intriguing gaps remain, and it is hoped the readers of the publication may be able to add a few more pieces to this picture of Rhodesian/Zimbabwean social history.
To order your copy now please click on our Publications tab, happy reading!