Great-niece of man who discovered Tutankhamun’s tomb serves up Egyptian food at new restaurant
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019
It's a Norfolk market town that is a popular place for tourists and locals, but businesses and traders believe it could be missing a trick.
Howard Carter, who discovered Tutankhamun's tomb in Egypt in 1922, was one of Swaffham's most famous sons.
But apart from the museum and a new emporium-cum-bistro celebrating his legacy, you would be hard pressed to know it.
Sue Allen, Howard Carter's great-niece, who has opened Tutankhamun's Emporium in the Market Place, would like to see a statue and blue plaques in the town, honouring his legacy.
Born Susan Carter, she grew up in Enfield, north London, but moved with husband Steve to Swaffham in 1987.
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The 64-year-old said: "I've got the Carter family tree in a book one of my cousins wrote.
"Growing up I was aware of my great-uncle. There was a project at school on it, and I had to talk about him in class.
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"He's always been part of my life.
"My father Peter Carter was very interested in him. I've got a couple of books on him at home, and we donated a copy of a letter he wrote to the Swaffham museum.
"When people travelling to the coast visit here, we tell them about Howard Carter, which they think is amazing. But then they ask why there is not more in the town about him? More should be made of him to bring in visitors from the UK and overseas.
"A bronze statue of him in the town would be good, and blue plaques where he lived."
While Howard Carter has always been part of her life, she never thought of making more of her connections until a surreal incident a few years ago persuaded her to open the shop in the town.
She added: "I went to a clairvoyant's evening and was told there was a man standing by my right side, who had been there all my life, who was wearing a trilby hat and was quite famous. It was a surreal experience."
Her husband Steve Allen is an artist and painted a portrait of Howard Carter, which hangs above the bar.
He said: "Swaffham's been missing a trick from day one. If this were America, they would have celebrated Howard Carter years ago. You only have to pass through anywhere in America, and they set up a museum on that person.
"Much more should be made of him, especially with the 100th anniversary of the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb coming up in 2022."
There are copies of some of the finds from Tutankhamun's tomb in a cabinet in the new emporium/ bistro.
They also serve Egyptian food such as tagines, a sweet stew with apricots and walnuts, in the evenings.
They have also been given items from people who've visited Egypt and brought souvenirs back.
The business is still waiting for a pavements licence to put tables and chairs outside, and a new sign will soon be put up outside,
Howard Carter, 1874-1939, was born in London but his family were from Swaffham and, soon after his birth, he was brought to the town to live with his maiden aunts at Keepers Cottage, as he was a sickly child. He spent a lot of his childhood in the town, and many members of the Carter family are buried in the churchyard.
One place where Howard Carter is celebrated is the Swaffham Heritage museum, a few doors down from the new restaurant.
It has a room dedicated to him and currently has some Egyptian exhibits from the British Museum on loan.
A museum volunteer, who did not wish to be named, said: "We get a lot of schools coming in and there's a lot of interest in Howard Carter in the town.
"People come specifically to see our Howard Carter room. We hope we can promote the connections more in the run-up to the 100th anniversary, and get more visitors in, as it will be of international interest."