Collection LSH - Ludlow, F. and Sherriff, G. Collection

Identity area

Reference code

GB 235 LSH


Ludlow, F. and Sherriff, G. Collection


  • 1930 - 1952 (Creation)
  • 1903 - 2014 (Accumulation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

Comprehensive; collection includes:
39 Plant lists
24 reels of cine-film
15 Envelopes of photographic negatives
15 Lists of primulas
11 Publications
10 Original diaries
8 Boxes of photographic material (prints and negatives)
8 Bundles of letters
6 Maps
6 dvds
4 Greetings cards
2 Lists of photographic material
2 Itineraries
2 Lists of seed recipients
2 Photocopied diaries
2 passport translations
1 passport covering letter
1 Tibetan passport
1 Tibetan letter and translation
1 Location log
1 List of costs
1 Garden Register
1 Peter Cox donation letter

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Frank Ludlow graduated from Cambridge in 1908 with a BA in natural sciences and on leaving university was appointed vice principal at Sind College, Karachi. During the First World War he served in Mesopotamia after which he went to Poona as Inspector of European Schools. In 1923 he opened a new school at Gyantse, Tibet. Although this closed in 1926 he remained on good terms with the Tibetan government and was almost uniquely allowed access to that country for a number of years. In 1927 he retired to Srinigar in Kashmir and from this date started travelling extensively, collecting birds and plants for the British Museum of Natural History. In 1928 he met George Sherriff in Kashgar in Chinese Turkestan and with their shared interests in ornithology, travel and plants they began a lifelong friendship which led to a series of major expeditions to the Eastern Himalayas and South East Tibet. During the 1930s they trekked through the Tian Shan mountains, Sikkim, Bhutan and Tibet, collecting thousands of plant specimens, though on these journeys Ludlow was more concerned with the collection of birds on which he wrote extensively. During the Second World War Ludlow was in charge of British Mission in Lhasa from 1942 to 1943 and was Joint Commissioner in Ladakh from 1940-42 and again from 1943-46. He continued collecting in 1946 setting off for South East Tibet again with Sherriff. Their sixth and final great expedition together was collecting alpine and temperate flora in Bhutan in 1949. They both returned to Britain in 1950 where Ludlow spent his remaining years working on their collections in the British Museum.
Sources: R. Desmond ‘Dictionary of British and Irish Botanists and Horticulturalists; obituary folder; H.R. Fletcher ‘A Quest for Flowers’.

Name of creator


Biographical history

George Sherriff attended the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich and fought in the First World War in France in 1918, where he was gassed. In 1919 he was sent to India and served on the north-west frontier. In 1927 he was appointed British vice-consul in Kashgar, Chinese Turkestan and while there travelled widely. In 1929 he met Frank Ludlow and their shared interests in ornithology, travel and plants started a lifelong friendship. During the 1930s they went on a series of plant and bird collecting expeditions working eastward along the main Himalayan ranges. In 1933, for example, they travelled to Tibet, Nang-kartse, Gyantse and back to India making 500 gatherings of plants and seeds; their collections included 69 species of rhododendron, 15 new to science. Sherriff resumed his military service during the Second World War, first in Assam and later in Sikkim and in 1943 he succeeded Frank Ludlow in charge of British Mission in Lhasa. After the war he continued collecting in south east Tibet, again with Ludlow. In 1949 both retired from India and went a final expedition to Bhutan to gather alpine and temperate flora. George Sherriff funded virtually all his expeditions himself and, as well as collecting, took thousands of photographs. He was one of first plant collectors to send specimens in crates back by air to Kew, Edinburgh and Wisley and his best plant introductions were rhododendrons, primulas, and peonies. On retirement Sherriff bought an estate near Kirriemuir in Angus where he grew many Himalayan plants with great success. In his later years he served in the Home Guard, on the county council and as session clerk of his local church.

Sources: Dictionary of National Biography; R. Desmond ‘Dictionary of British and Irish Botanists and Horticulturalists; obituary folder; H.R. Fletcher ‘A Quest for Flowers’.

Archival history

This is an artificial collection put together by library, archives and RBGE staff throughout the 20th century - i.e. it was not put together by Ludlow and Sherriff themselves. Rather it contains correspondence, papers, photographs, etc sent by Ludlow and Sherriff to various correspondence, diaries, items donated by his family or associates and rather than store them as individual collections put together by these bodies, it was thought best to store them together as the Ludlow and Sherriff Collection.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Donated by Betty Sherriff and Peter Cox. Gathered and arranged by RBGE.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

This collection consists of material created and gathered from the expeditions of F. Ludlow and G. Sherriff, thought their expeditions of Bhutan and Tibet during 1933-1949.

The collection consists of 5 sub-series: plant documents, expedition documents, diaries, correspondence and visual material.

[1] This series consists of a variety of material which includes plant and seed lists from their expedition with a large focus on Primula, Meconopsis and Rhododendrons, as well as publications gathered by Ludlow and Sherriff which cover their shared interest in the Himalayan region and it's flora and fauna. There is also a garden register donated by the Knox Finlay family detailing the progress of plants/seeds in their gardens acquired from various expeditions including Ludlow and Sherriff's between 1951-52.

[2] This series consists of a variety of expedition documents ranging from itineraries and maps to administration lists and passports.

[3] This series consists of originals and photocopies of the diaries of Sherriff and Ludlow during their expeditions.

[4] This series consists of a variety of correspondence from and to Sherriff and Ludlow over the course of their expeditions.

[5] This series consists of a variety of material including: photographic material, films and videos. Photographic material ranges from prints and negatives taken by Sherriff and Ludlow to prints of digital images taken as exhibition documentation in 2014. The films are..... There have been dvd surrogates made of the films to ensure continued accessibility.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling

This is an important collection, therefore record appraisal and destruction should not be carried out.


No accruals are expected

System of arrangement

The material is arranged in a hierarchical system as has been arranged chronologically and numerically where appropriate.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access


Conditions governing reproduction

Collection is still in copyright

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

  • Tibetan

Language and script notes

All Tibetan documents have at least a partial translation into English catalogued alongside them.

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

The RBGE does not currently have access to equipment to allow viewing of the films. The majority of these have, however, been digitised and are available on dvd. to enable easy access.

Finding aids

Uploaded finding aid

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

The originals of Ludlow's diaries are located at the India Office Library, London.

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

The Ludlow and Sherriff Collection stretches far throughout the RBGE. There is additional material available through the library, the herbarium and the living collection.

The library currently has 8 records attached to Ludlow and Sheriff. The catalogue is viewable online at:

The herbarium currently has 1820 digitised records attached to Ludlow and Sherriff, with many more available within the herbarium. The herbarium collection is currently being digitised and some material is already viewable through their online catalogue:

Details of the living collection can be access by contacting the RBGE library and archives for more information. There are a number of Sherriff and Ludlow plants currently growing in the public gardens at RBGE, locations of which can be provided.

Related descriptions

Notes area



Alternative identifier(s)

Access points

Subject access points

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Description control area

Description identifier


Institution identifier

GB 235

Rules and/or conventions used



Level of detail


Dates of creation revision deletion

Description created by Julia Wylie, 2015


  • English



Accession area

Related people and organizations

Related genres

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Physical storage

  • Shelf: D:3:1
  • Shelf: D:3:2
  • Shelf: B:6:4