In 2010, shortly after my mother died, I discovered a box of old letters and postcards at the back of her wardrobe. To be fair, I knew they were there but until I took them out and read them all, I had no idea what an amazing find they would turn out to be.
The correspondence was mainly addressed to my maternal grandmother and had been sent to her by a close friend called Ethel North. From 1919 to 1933, Ethel was lady's maid to Lady Winifred Burghclere, the sister of the 5th Earl of Carnarvon. It was the 5th Earl who, along with archaeologist Howard Carter, discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1923, dying shortly afterwards from an infected mosquito bite or as some would have it, the curse of Tutankhamun. Those of you who are fans of the popular television series Downton Abbey may already know that the Carnarvons were an important and influential aristocratic family who served as inspiration for the fictional Crawley family. Highclere Castle, where Lady Burghclere and her brother were born, was also used in the filming of the series.