Lord Carnarvon Facts

Lord Carnarvon was an English aristocrat, best known for being the key financial backer of many of Howard Carter’s Egyptian excavation projects, including the excavation in the Valley of the Kings of the tomb of Tutankhamun.

Facts About Lord Carnarvon

  • Lord Carnarvon was born George Edward Stanhope Molyneux Herbert in 1866.
  • His father was Henry Herbert, the 4th Earl of Carnarvon, and his mother was Lady Evelyn Stanhope.
  • Lord Carnarvon attended Eton College and Trinity College, Cambridge.
  • From his maternal grandmother, he inherited Bretby Hall in Derbyshire, and he became the 5th Earl of Carnarvon following the death of his father in 1890.
  • In 1895 he married Almina Victoria Maria Alexandra Wombwell, the illegitimate daughter of Alfred de Rothschild. Rothschild paid a marriage settlement of £500,000 (a sum that would total more than £60 million today). This allowed Lord Carnarvon to pay off all of his debts.
  • In 1902, Lord Carnarvon set up the Highclere Stud to breed racehorses.
  • His grandson, the 7th Earl of Carnarvon was Queen Elizabeth II’s racing manager.
  • In 1903, after becoming injured in a car accident, his doctors recommended that he spend winters abroad. He started to visit Egypt, and became a keen Egyptologist, seeking out antiquities for a collection he was putting together in England.
  • In 1907, he employed Howard Carter to carry out the excavation of some Ancient Egyptian tombs near Thebes.
Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter
  • In 1914, he again employed Howard Carter, this time to search the Valley of the Kings for any tombs missed during previous explorations and excavations. The search was hampered by World War I, but in 1922 Howard Carter sent a telegram to Lord Carnarvon to inform him that a sealed tomb had been located.
  • Lord Carnarvon was present with his daughter, Lady Evelyn Herbert, when the staircase to the tomb was cleared, and he was present when the sealed doorway to the room containing Tutankhamun’s cartouche was breached.
  • Some reports suggest that Howard Carter, Lord Carnarvon, and Lady Evelyn Herbert entered the inner burial chamber of Tutankhamun’s tomb before the arrival of the officials of the Egyptian Department of Antiquities.
  • Lord Carnarvon sold the rights to report on the Tutankhamun excavation to The Times newspaper.
  • In 1923, Lord Carnarvon received a severe mosquito bite. The bite became infected after he nicked it with a razor when he was shaving, and he died of blood poisoning in Cairo.
  • The press speculated that Lord Carnarvon had been struck down by the Curse of Tutankhamun, and Arthur Conan Doyle (the author of the Sherlock Holmes books) suggested that Lord Carnarvon had been killed by elemental priests guarding the tomb.
  • Lord Carnarvon’s country house, Highclere Castle, featured in the Downton Abbey TV series.
  • Lord Carnarvon was played by Sam Neil in ITV’s 2016 Tutankhamun television series.