National Trust Publications Page

La Rochelle Visitors 1954-1970

This very important historical document entitled: ‘La Rochelle Visitors 1954-1970’ has been officially published to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the National Trust of Zimbabwe (in 2020) and in memory of Mr Darrel Plowes (04/04/1925 – 19/10/2016).

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 National Trust of Zimbabwe in 1960.

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 tipped stylus on several glass window panels, and the hundreds of inscribed signatures have intrigued more recent visitors to La Rochelle.

Over the past 7 years 3 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 activities, 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) Mr Darrel Plowes and an Australian visitor to La Rochelle, Mrs Heather White. As Darrel’s health limited his involvement, his companion Ms 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 Courtauld’s 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.

The Trust would like to acknowledge the passionate voluntary work undertaken by Mrs Nina Bauer and Mrs Heather White over a period of 8 dedicated years. Together they have compiled a fascinating and highly interesting document.  The Trust is extremely grateful for all their hard work and time and for choosing the Trust to be the sole financial beneficiary of their work.

The Trust would also like to say a huge thank to Ms Catherine Leonard and Mr Bill Turner of the International  National Trust Organisation for all their technical help and support in bringing the on-line sale of the book to fruition.


The cost of a PDF version of the Book is only USD 20.00.

If you would like to purchase an electronic  PDF version of the book your order will be processed through our website provider: Change Canada Consultants Ltd.

When you click the link below you will be taken to their secure website where you may process your payment via credit card. When payment is processed, you will be given a link to download the publication from their server.

To purchase your electronic (PDF) version of this book click on this link

A printed hard, colour book is available in Zimbabwe only

If you live in Zimbabwe and would like to purchase a hard copy of the book we can take payment in local ZWLs/USD/Ecocash/Bank transfer/PayNow. In this case your order will be processed through the NTZ.   Please email

We do hope that you enjoy reading all about the people that signed the lounge windows at La Rochelle.

We would love to hear about any comments that you have.

Other National Trust Zimbabwe Publications


La Rochelle Guidebook

Available at La Rochelle Country House

The Rhodes Nyanga Historical Museum produced the following heritage booklets:

  • Traditional Leadership
  • 50 Years On
  • History of Hon. C.J.Rhode and
  • History of the National Women’s Institute of Zimbabwe and Home Craft Clubs
  • Shona Customs and Culture by Mr.Edgar Nyagwaya
  • Relationship between Councillors and Traditional Leader by Edgar Nyagwaya

Sorry these publications are currently out of stock 


Nyanga’s Rich Heritage by Mrs Edone Ann Logan and Mr Rob Burrett

The main aims of this booklet are to inform Zimbabweans and overseas visitors  on the many and varied aspects of the rich natural and social heritage of this area, and through knowledge and interest encourage a sense of pride and a wish to preserve this heritage.   It is the authors hope that  the booklet, which includes many historical black and white photographs,  will  serve as a historical reference for those interested in Nyanga – particularly the early pre-history period. Proceeds from sales of the booklet will assist with generating funds for the Rhodes Nyanga Exhibition where it will be sold.

Available at the RNHE shop

Please kindly email us if you would like to purchase any of these publications:

Happy Reading!


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