Highclere never fails to disappoint- a house steeped in history, full of ancient Egyptian treasures and an Indiana Jones type story that always inspires learning.
The pupils were captivated by the golden throne of Tutankhamun, the intricately crafted jewellery, four thousand years old and yet having the appearance of just being made yesterday.
There was the sarcophagus of Lady Irtyru, three thousand five hundred years old, made of cedar wood and hand painted in colours, still vivid and detailed.
Making their way along the shadowy corridors, below the three hundred rooms, within the castle, the children crept into a replica of the tomb of Tutankhamun.
Thomas C, like all the rest of the pupils, has just commenced his recount and it seems to capture the excitement that was felt by all!
“What do you see?” asked the 5th Earl of Carnarvon [the person who funded Tutankhamun to be found, and the owner of Highclere Castle] to Howard Carter.
“What do you see?”
Looking through a small hole in the wall of the tomb he replied “Wonderful things!” and I almost said those same words as I looked through a chink in the stone wall, dividing the ante-chamber from the main shrine.
Here was a strange room with Egyptian artefacts.
I guessed that it was a copy of the tomb but it was so amazing! It could make Neil Armstrong’s going to the moon look like someone making a trip to the supermarket!
And then of course you have the ‘curse of the pharaoh’ where children had to consider whether it was just lack of medical knowledge that led to the death of Lord Carnarvon or was it because he had dared to open the tomb?
The guides told fascinating stories about how the eighth Earl sponsored Howard Carter, almost deciding to cease the search but amazingly, in the final grid, the tomb was discovered!
Below an azure sky, you could see some Gateway children running through the topiary archways within the Monks’ Garden. This had once been owned by the abbey at Winchester, five hundred years ago and still today growing the medicinal herbs and flowers they had once cultivated.
In the Secret Garden, you could hear laughter as youngsters ran along the paths enclosed by high stone walls, covered in wild roses and ivy.
It really was a lovely day and one which I hope will remain in the memory, for a long time to come.