New Year Resolution
Get this newsletter out more regularly. It hasn't intentionally gone bi-monthly, but the last few months have been especially busy, so I hope you will excuse me. Having said that, there are also a lot of exciting developments coming up this year, but I hope that I will be able to keep you in touch with them regularly, as I won't be under the same pressure to fit in with other people's deadlines.
New Year Makeover
If you have visited the Egyptian London web site recently, you will notice that it has (to quote Star Trek) boldly gone into the brave new world of social media. Yes, I am now on Twitter, as @ChrisElliott8, and the Egyptian London web site has Facebook, Twitter, email and print buttons on each page. Feel free to use them with discretion. For anyone who is tempted to raise my almost invisibly low profile on Twitter by following me, rest assured that I Tweet when I have something I consider worth sharing, and you won't be bombarded with the output of an Egyptophile Sally Bercow. (There's a scary thought.) The main focus will always be on the many and varied ways that our culture has been influenced by Ancient Egypt.
New Year - New Identity
The biggest change this year will be the transformation of Egyptian London into Egypt in England. In some ways, it isn't that big a change. Egyptian London was always about more than architecture, and Egypt in England the book had a narrower focus, but covered the whole country. Bringing them together is logical, and reflects what I am doing much better. Once I have sorted graphics out, the web site will become Egypt in England, and Egyptian London a sub-section of it. The tours and walks will continue, and I am hoping that they will expand beyond London. Watch this space. For those of you who weren't able to make the exhibition at the Wellington Arch, I'm also planning to include photos of it.
You may have heard rumours recently that English Heritage were closing the Blue Plaque scheme, which since 1866 has commemorated notable historic figures by erecting plaques on the buildings in London where they used to live or work. Thankfully, this is not the case, but the scheme has temporarily been closed to new applications, and over the next two years the focus will be on reducing a substantial back list of applications which have already been short listed. During this time, they will also be looking at ways to make the scheme "more cost effective and self-sustaining", and to "reduce the cost to the tax-payer" (currently over £250,000 a year.) The word 'sponsorship' springs to mind. I am keeping my fingers crossed that this means my proposal for a plaque for Amelia Edwards, which was already on the short list, will still go ahead.
It is ironic that at the same time the magnificent Egyptian style Sainsbury's Homebase in the Warwick Road was being showcased in the Egypt in England book and exhibition, it was also facing destruction. I'm still investigating, but it seems that the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea have approved a major housing development for the site currently occupied by Homebase, and that it will be demolished. While the building interior is unremarkable, it would be a tragedy (and I don't use that word lightly) if the carved limestone reliefs of Egyptian deities on the main car park wall were lost. I have contacted the Twentieth Century Society, and one of their case workers is investigating. There is apparently some Section 106 money (essentially money towards public amenities paid by developers) for public art works, and I am hoping that it will be possible to rescue the Homebase reliefs and incorporate them into the new development. Apart from anything else, this highlights the vulnerability of commercial buildings, especially in the period before they become eligible for Listed Building status. I'll keep you in touch with developments.
More Egyptian Londoners
I may have to think what this section is called in future, but to qualify for it at present, the people on it must have a London connection. This time, they include Giovanni Belzoni's sponsor in Royal Arch Freemasonry, whose papers were destroyed on his instructions after his death, the man who went on A Search In Secret Egypt, and the 'elephant in the corner' of Egyptology. A man whose books are still in print and selling on Amazon decades after his death, but whose name tends to provoke an embarrassed silence among contemporary Egyptologists. Enjoy.
Until next time,
Ankh Wedja Seneb,
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