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Egypt in London: 

a Weekend

Thursday 2 November - Sunday 5 November 2017

The Trustees and Directors of the Saint Catherine Foundation, American Associates and Swiss Friends invite you to join them in London for a weekend of celebrations to mark the foundation’s twentieth anniversary.


Between 2 and 5 November, you will enjoy privileged access to a world of exceptional treasures from Egypt’s ancient past and Britain’s age of empire.


We have obtained special entrée to Sir John Soane’s Museum, Apsley House, the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology and Highclere Castle. Exciting private events will take place at the Royal Geographical Society, Bridgewater House and Leighton House.


We hope you will be able to join us!

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Thursday 2 November


South Kensington


The Royal Geographical Society is Great Britain’s learned society and professional body for geography, founded in 1830. The society is well known for its groundbreaking exhibitions, conferences and lectures.


Morning and Afternoon

Ondaatje Theatre


You are invited to participate in the conference accompanying the Boissonnas in Egypt exhibition, which will look at the ways Egypt was seen through the medium of photography in the period between the world wars.  Open to an audience of academics and specialists, the conference will take a multi-disciplinary approach to the subject, with papers presented by international scholars.



Pavilion and Map Room


A private view of the Boissonnas in Egypt exhibition follows, featuring photographs of Egypt, Sinai and Saint Catherine’s Monastery. The works on display date from the 1920s and 30s and include iconic images of the desert and Saint Catherine’s taken on Boissonnas’s legendary expeditions to Sinai in 1929 and 1933. L’Egypte, the magnificent volume of photographs commissioned by King Fuad I of Egypt and published by Fred Boissonnas in 1932, is a centrepiece of the exhibition.


Gala Dinner



A special place will be reserved for you at the Saint Catherine Foundation’s Twentieth Anniversary Gala Dinner.

Friday 3 November

Late Morning


St James’s


This historic townhouse overlooking Green Park was the London residence of the Dukes of Bridgewater. It was redesigned in the Palazzo style in 1840 by Sir Charles Barry, architect of the Houses of Parliament.


The grand portico may well look familiar. Exterior scenes of the Downton Abbey television series were filmed here. Beyond the doorway so well known to Downton fans lies the gilded splendour of one of London’s impressive high Victorian interiors.


Murals and sculpted plasterwork by the German artists Jakob Götzenberger and Heinrich Bandel decorate the central glass-domed Hall. We will gather here for lunch and more, including a talk by the author and lecturer Chris Elliott, an authority on all things Egyptian.


Late Afternoon


Lincoln’s Inn Fields, Holborn


We will continue to Sir John Soane’s Museum, home of the architect Sir John Soane (1753-1837). Our private candlelit visit will recreate the magical atmosphere of the house and its eccentric contents.


A tireless collector of antiquities and curiosities from Egypt and the classical world, Soane created a museum within a domestic space. We will be free to wander through the cleverly interconnected rooms, from the monumental sarcophagus of Pharoah Seti I in the Sepulchral Chamber to the paintings by Canaletto, Turner and Hogarth in the Picture Gallery.


Drinks and canapés will be served in the Drawing Room and there will be a viewing of the exhibition Egypt Uncovered: Belzoni and the Tomb of Pharaoh Seti I. The curator will present the unlikely career of the pioneering Egyptologist and circus strongman Giovanni Belzoni (1778 - 1823) and explain his connection to Soane’s collection.

Saturday 4 November




Join us for a morning tour with Chris Elliott as your guide. Our route will take us from Hyde Park Corner to the Victoria Embankment and Bloomsbury, with stops along the way at the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology and Apsley House for curator-led visits.  




Better known to specialists than to the general public, the Petrie Museum is both the teaching collection of University College London and a world resource on a par with the British Museum, Cairo Museum and Berlin’s Egyptian Museum. The Petrie Museum incorporates the personal collection of one of the great archaeologists of Egypt, Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie (1853-1942), who excavated dozens of sites.




Hyde Park Corner


The Egyptian Service here is sure to impress you, and so will the story behind it; for this was a gift from Napoleon Bonaparte to Josephine on their divorce. Josephine Oxley, curator of the Wellington Collection, will show us the dinnerware and many architectural centrepieces that comprise this superb example of the Egyptian taste, produced in the Sèvres factory between 1810 and 1812.




Holland Park



The evening’s destination is Leighton House, home and studio of the artist Frederic, Lord Leighton (1830-1896). This showcase of the oriental style is famous for its Arab Hall, the exotic setting for the works of art Leighton collected on his trips to Egypt, Syria and Turkey. We will enjoy drinks, music and the unique atmosphere of this ‘private palace of art’ before we go our separate ways for dinner.

Sunday 5 November

Morning and Afternoon




Highclere Castle has been home to the Carnarvon family since the late 17th century. The imposing architecture makes quite an impression, as does the surrounding Capability Brown park. More recently, Highclere gained an additional claim to fame as the home of the Earls of Grantham in the popular Downton Abbey television series. However it is the castle’s Egyptian connection that brings us to Highclere.


The 5th Earl of Carnarvon is the aristocratic archaeologist who, with Howard Carter, discovered the tomb of King Tutankhamun in 1922. He died a few months later in Cairo, purportedly a victim of the mummy’s curse.


The Earl and Countess of Carnarvon have opened their family home to us. Our visit will begin with morning coffee in the Saloon. Diary permitting, Lady Carnarvon will tell us about the 5th Earl, his Egyptian exploits and untimely death. A tour of the State Rooms follows. We will enjoy lunch in the State Dining Room, followed by a visit to the Egyptian Exhibition. We are invited to spend the rest of the day enjoying the house and grounds. Afternoon tea will be served before our return to London.

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