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'A tad pretentious' - setback for Howard Carter statue proposal

Susan Allen's Tutankhamun's Emporium in Swaffham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Susan Allen's Tutankhamun's Emporium in Swaffham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2019

A proposal to erect a statue honouring Howard Carter in a Norfolk town has been pooh-poohed as a "tad pretentious".

Swaffham Heritage Centre manager, Sue Gattuso, at the town's museum. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY Swaffham Heritage Centre manager, Sue Gattuso, at the town's museum. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Mr Carter's great-niece Sue Allen wants to see a statue in Swaffham to remember her relative, who discovered Tutankhamun's tomb in Egypt in 1922, and spent a lot of his childhood in the town.

But Sue Gattuso, volunteer manager at Swaffham Heritage Museum, has dismissed the idea.

She said: "Perhaps a statue is a mite grand for Howard, a tad pretentious in a small market town. A plaque, perhaps, would be appropriate and fitting."

However, she agrees that Mr Carter's links to the town could be better promoted, especially as the anniversary of the discovery is in 2022.

A couple of copies of Egyptian artefacts from Tutankhamun's tomb on display in Susan Allen's Tutankhamun's Emporium in Swaffham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYA couple of copies of Egyptian artefacts from Tutankhamun's tomb on display in Susan Allen's Tutankhamun's Emporium in Swaffham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

She said: "It's time he came home. In the autobiography he wrote for Who's Who he declared he was born in Swaffham. He is certainly one of Swaffham's sons.

"And there needs to be a reminder in the town that an ordinary man or woman, given support, determination and courage can achieve great things."

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She said many visitors to the museum were surprised that Mr Carter was a Swaffham man.

Susan Allen, great-niece of Howard Carter, in her Tutankhamun's Emporium in Swaffham, with a portrait of Howard. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYSusan Allen, great-niece of Howard Carter, in her Tutankhamun's Emporium in Swaffham, with a portrait of Howard. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

She added: "But without Swaffham and its neighbouring villages there would have been no Howard.

"Mr Carter's grandfather Samuel, his father Samuel John, his aunts Fanny and Catherine and his uncle William all lie buried in Swaffham churchyard. Several other members of his family are in Swaffham cemetery including Harry Carter, the town sign maker, and Ben Ripper, the artist.

"Howard was unmarried and had no children, but there are still many of his extended family living in Swaffham."

Mr Carter trained to be an artist and first encountered Egypt in the collection of antiquities belonging to Lord and Lady Amherst at nearby Didlington Hall.

Mrs Allen, who has opened Tutankhamun's Emporium in the Market Place, Swaffham, would like to see a bronze statue and blue plaques in the town.

Mr Carter (1874-1939) was born in London but, soon after his birth, he was brought to Swaffham to live with his maiden aunts at Keepers Cottage, as he was a sickly child.

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