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12 Sep 2014

Three Famous English Houses

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Three Famous English Houses with Egyptian connections!
By Christine Harris

Highclere Castle

Most of us have seen the lavish BBC production, ‘Downton Abbey’. But not many recognized the ‘Abbey’ as Highclere Castle, home of the Canarvon family since 1679, and that the 5th Earl of Canarvon was the financier of the Egyptian excavation headed by brilliant Egyptologist, Howard Carter: discoverer of the celebrated, in-tacked tomb of the boy king, Tutankhamun.
In 1987, the Canarvon family re-discovered artifacts tucked away in secret cupboards, within the walls of the castle, from the tomb of Tutankhamun.
Today, a collection of these antiquities and replicas can be viewed on an amazing journey through the museum galleries of Highclere Castle

Didlington Hall

Near the village of Brandon some 10 miles from Swaffham, is Didlngton Hall, where in its heyday the estate, owned by the privileged family of Tyson-Amhurst, covered more than 10,000 acres of Norfolk heath country. The Amhursts had five daughters, thus no male heir to the family fortune (a rather ‘Pride & Prejudice’ situation).
Samuel Carter, an exceptional painter of animal portraiture, was commissioned by Lady Amhurst, and several of his portraits graced the walls of Diblington Hall. The Amhurst’s collection of art also contained some of the rarest assembly of Egyptian statues, art, and papyri in England, and it was there that the eight year old son of Samuel Carter, Howard, whose talent was recognized by Lord Amhurst, was given the run of the library and galleries, and thus determined the direction of Howard Carter’s life

Lincoln’s Inn Fields

In 1817, Egyptologist, Giovanni Battista Belzoni, while digging in the Valley of the Kings in Thebes, uncovered a long flight of wooden steps that led down to the cool entrance of the fourteen chambers of Seti I; father of 18th Dynasty pharaoh, Rameses the Great.
At 350 feet long, the tomb is the largest in the valley and the most exceptionally beautiful with extraordinary paintings covering nearly every inch of the walls, pillars, and ceilings. Although the tomb had been robbed in antiquity, an alabaster sarcophagus, carved in incredibly fine detail showing the entire ‘Book of the Gates’, remained.
Belzoni shipped the sarcophagus to England and offered it to the British Museum, who turned it down. However, Sir John Soane, designer of the Bank of England and Dulwich College, purchased the sarcophagus for a mere £2,000 where it now rests in the basement of London House at 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields (now a museum), amid the hodgepodge and confusion of classical and mediaeval fragments.