As the coach drew closer, we caught a glimpse of the fairytale turrets and ornate stone walls of the house. There were gasps of awe all round and this continued later as we entered the replica tomb of Tutankhamen. In the antechamber there were gold plated statues of Egyptian women, magnificently decorated animals and all kinds of other beautiful artefacts.
I tried to imagine just what Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon would have thought at the moment the inner burial shrine was discovered. In fact, when Howard Carter first peered into it, Lord Carnarvon was said to have asked, ‘Well ….Do you see anything?’
Howard Carter hesitated, overcome with awe and relief after searching for twenty three years.
‘Yes, wonderful things!’
You may not believe me when you read this but I came face to face with a three and half thousand year old sarcophagus, as well as artefacts such as make up dishes, jewellery and fine combs. And guess what? None of them appeared old! So sophisticated!
Whilst our ancestors were constructing primitive shelters, the Ancient Egyptians were carving splendidly intricate carvings and transferring huge stones along the Nile.
When we explored the grounds of Highclere, we gained a wonderful view of the mist shrouded hill where Lord Carnarvon is buried, alongside his dog, Susie. The story goes that Lord Carnarvon was bitten by a mosquito and whilst shaving he cut his skin, developed an infection in his blood and died.
Mysteriously his dog died just at the exact moment he did and what’s more all the lights went out in Cairo. It is said the curse of Tutankhamun was responsible. ….
Lord Carnarvon first went to Egypt because he had been interested in motor cars. He was driving his car, at speed, in Italy, when he suffered injuries in a car crash. His lung was punctured and he suffered injuries that caused him discomfort for the rest of his life. Doctors recommended he travel to a warmer climate where he would be able to breathe more easily. And so it was that he chose Egypt and became fascinated by Ancient Egyptian artefacts, eventually sponsoring Howard to find the tomb.
Highclere Castle is full of history - it was used in World War One as a hospital for injured soldiers but its history can be mapped through time to the early site of an abbey, part of the Winchester Diocese.
We all had a wonderful day and one which in which the memories will stay with us - a perfect Autumn day in the wonderful surroundings of Highclere.