Norwich, Egyptian Society of East Anglia
The Society was founded in Norwich in 1915. Its broad aim was to encourage the study of Egyptology in the region (Norfolk and Suffolk) and, more specifically, to support the work of Dr A. M. Blackman, surveyor of the Archaeological Survey and best known for his work on the tombs at Meir. Blackman became president of ESEA and Alice Geldart, a local Norfolk woman, was elected honorary secretary. The Society offered a full programme of events. These included regular lectures by invited speakers and members, as well as an annual lecture delivered by Blackman. A study circle was also set up and met regularly to learn hieroglyphs and to discuss ancient Egyptian history and culture. In addition, visits to museums and to private local collections were arranged. The latter included invitations to view the collections of Rider Haggard, Margaret Boileau and Jeremiah Colman (of Colman’s Mustard).
The Society was closely associated with Norwich Castle Museum – a connection which was mutually beneficial. ESEA was given access to the museum’s collections, sometimes using them to illustrate talks, and it had free use of the museum’s facilities. For its part, the Society helped the museum’s curator develop and improve the interpretation of the Egyptian gallery. The museum also benefited by acquiring the Society’s library and its collection of artefacts (given to it by the Egypt Exploration Society as part of their annual distribution of objects acquired through excavation).
ESEA was disbanded in 1942, shortly after the death of Alice Geldart. It was her untiring and enthusiastic efforts which had enabled the Society to flourish and become a focal point for Egyptology in East Anglia.
With thanks to Faye Kalloniatis for this text.
Records of the East Anglia Society are kept at the Norfolk Record Office: http://nrocat.norfolk.gov.uk/DServe/dserve.exe?dsqServer=NCC3CL01&dsqIni...
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