Author, lecturer and breeder of hybrid musk roses.

Joseph Pemberton lived most of his life in Essex at The Round House in Havering-atte-Bower. He developed an interest in roses as a young child and from an early age he was taught to bud, graft, prune and generally care for roses by his father. He started exhibiting roses from his garden in 1874. He was ordained in1881 and most of his curacy was spent in the Romford area although from 1891 – 1914 he was also Diocesan Inspector of Schools for St Albans. He was able to maintain his hobby of rose-growing thanks to the help of his sister Florence. It is not known when he resigned his curacy in order to focus solely on his roses, but it is likely to have been around 1918 as by then he omitted ‘Rev’ from his name.

Joseph Pemberton at Rose stand national rose society

Joseph Pemberton at Rose stand national rose society

The Gardeners’ Magazine (1907) stated that ‘he is so well known throughout the United Kingdom as one of the foremost of amateur rosarians…’ and a respected judge of roses. He won the Rose Society’s Champion Challenge Cup in 1885, 1886 and 1896 and is thought to have won more prizes for showing roses than anyone else. In 1896, from 18th June until 4th August, he exhibited 49 times and won 48 prizes including trophies, cups and medals. In all he is reputed to have won over 1000 prizes for his roses. In 1909 Pemberton was the recipient of the Dean Hole medal, the chief National Rose Society honour in recognition of his outstanding services to the Society. Pemberton was also one of the founders of the National Rose Society and became President in 1911-1912.

Around 1913, he established with his sister Florence the firm of ‘J. Pemberton’ in order to sell roses. It is assumed that his business was based at The Round House where he had a large garden of three acres and grew over 3000 roses. He produced Pemberton’s Select Rose List which offered dwarf and bush roses ‘grown and cultivated by the Rev J H Pemberton and Miss Florence Pemberton primarily for their own personal enjoyment. Friends, however, have desired plants, so the Roses are now offered to the general public.’ From 1916, listed separately, his own introductions were included: ‘Danae’, ‘Moonlight’, Pemberton’s White Rambler’, ‘Ceres’, Galatea’, ‘Clymenestra’ and ‘Queen Alexandra’. Pemberton was awarded National Rose Society Gold Medals for some of his rose introductions including ‘Moonlight’ (1913) and ‘Clymenestra’ (1915) and ‘Pax’ (1918): RHS Awards of Garden merit were also given to ‘Cornelia’ (1925) and ‘Penelope’ (1924).  Buff Beauty was introduced later (1939) by his former employee Anne Bentall.

Pemberton also wrote widely on roses including; Roses, their History, Development and Cultivation 1908 (Longmans, Green & Co). The Second edition (1920) included brief reference to the new class of perpetual-flowering musk roses.


Taken from:  Twigs Way, Ed., Rooted in Essex (Essex Garden Trust, 2006).