Working together to heal
An iron railing frames the grave of the 5th Earl of Carnarvon which sits on one side within the fallen circular ramparts of the Iron Age fort on Beacon Hill overlooking the Highclere Estate. Walking up there, the hillsides smell of the different grasses and thickets of thorn grow down the steep north slopes beyond the grave. Field fares flock along the lower slopes, the tiny birds suddenly rising en masse, a wonderful sight, and even I can distinguish the lapwings by their rather caustic cry.
It is a remarkable place to be buried, but the 5th Earl was a man who had achieved a pre-eminent role on the world stage through diligence and tenacity. In 1922, with Howard Carter, he discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun. He died, however, just five months later in Cairo of blood poisoning: septicaemia or sepsis. Following the media frenzy around the tomb of the Boy King Tutankhamun, he had sailed up the Nile to Aswan on a dahabiya for a short break and, whilst shaving one morning, nicked an existing mosquito bite. Failing to daub iodine on it, the cure at the time, it became infected. Returning to the Winter Palace in Luxor, his daughter tried to nurse him before they took the train back to Cairo for further medical support.
Evelyn phoned her mother Almina who hired a private plane to hasten her journey to her husband’s bedside. Carnarvon rallied several times but ultimately was too frail, the result of earlier mishaps and injuries. Despite his wife’s formidable nursing skills, he could not conquer the sepsis. He died on April 6th 1923 at the age of 56. Today sepsis is beginning to get more media coverage and more understanding given the fundamental impact and threat to too many lives. In the UK alone, 44,000 people die each year from sepsis whilst many others lose limbs.
One of the charities Highclere is supporting this September at our “Heroes at Highclere” event is The UK Sepsis Trust: a remarkable small charity which works hard to raise money for, and awareness of, sepsis. If any of you are watching ITV’s Coronation Street at the moment, you will be wrapped up in the story of a seven year old boy, Jack, who now has sepsis after falling while playing football. He is in hospital fighting for his life. It is so shocking because he is so young and the possibility of his death has come quite out of the blue. (A link to the story and interview is at the bottom of this blog)
Television stories can have a key role is raising awareness and, ultimately, in prevention. Here at Highclere, Lady Almina Carnarvon fought sepsis in the Hospital she set up here at the Castle during the First World War. It was exemplary in terms of cleanliness and, as a result, there were, in fact, disproportionally fewer deaths and amputations in Lady Carnarvon’s hospital than in others. This remarkable little lady saved both lives and limbs.
One of the few peaceful moments in the four gruesome years of the First World War was playing football on Christmas Day in December 1914. So I thought we should play short games of 5 or 7 aside football in front of the Castle in September, climbing out of the ha-ha, which can act as a trench, to a pitch marked by sandbags. We are hopeful that, through The UK Sepsis Trust, we might have a “Coronation Street” team play here and I am hoping a few other teams from other TV shows might join in. Like everyone else, I am completely enthralled with the World Cup at the moment, and just like the games on television, I think we need to persuade some pretty experienced referees to come here.
To add to the football, Morgan Pearse, an outstanding young baritone is going to join us and sing “Stille Nacht” to kick off though, at this rate, perhaps he and we need to sing “Three lions” as well. Here’s hoping!……I just need a band.
David Hume, a Scottish philosopher wrote: “It’s when we start working together that the real healing takes place… it’s when we start spilling our sweat, and not our blood”; from which I have parsed a few words for the title of this blog. September is about working together.
Here is a link to the football and sepsis story
As always your comments and stories are full of good sense and passion. It is about community and friendship. If I lived closer I will certainly went at your event. I wish you the best and I look forward to be joining you in Highclere to an event some day.
Again, all my best wishes!
Luce from Québec
Wow…..watching the ITV news story and reading the details of the fifth Earl of Carnarvon’s death again, brings tears to my eyes.
Education and awareness is so important and now your post inspires me to learn more.
I have not been a Coronation Street viewer for many years but now must start watching it again to follow this storyline.
Thank you once again Lady Carnarvon for being a leader in drawing attention to global needs and charities.
It’s an amazing charity, very close to my heart. My husband survived 2 attacks of sepsis last summer but it’s a very frightening disease and it’s great that the charity is getting some well deserved attention. I do hope all your plans come together, it sounds like it will be an incredible event.
They are a small highly effective charity – a delight to work with
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I am always so sad when I think of Lord Carnarvon’s untimely death from sepsis. There was really nothing that could be done for him and he died too young. I think although many still lose lives from sepsis, thankfully much progress is made for a cure thanks to charities like the UK Sepsis Trust. I am so happy this charity will be supported at Heroes for Highclere this year. I think your idea for teams for TV shows playing football is just great. I think one of the really nice things that actors and actresses do is stand up for platforms that they believe in. They do much good. Maybe a Downton team?? I think you could twist their arms to come back to their beloved Highclere. Just maybe!! (laughing)
Ann Catherine Flood
It would be good indeed!
Thank you for bringing sepsis awareness to the forefront. I think that it is one of those complications that plague diabetics. Diabetics have difficulty healing, as some of you may know. Extreme care and awareness in care of our limbs is so important especially as we age. My husband still has scars from sepis brought on by certain injections that were given to him for a skin condition. The drug compromised his already weak immune system further.
Thank you for your important works Lady Carnarvon and for sharing your family history with us.
Congratulations on supporting such a good cause, one that needs more attention. I lost a friend to Sepsis last year, and recently had my own battle with a blood infection. Thankfully I have fully recovered with no ill effects.
Laura in Montana, USA
Yes, sepsis is the biggest worry when being in the hospital that is why they send one home 2 to 3 days after even major surgery (hip, knee replacement),
A team Downton , a team Grantchester — all the Brit shows — wouldn’t that be fun to watch?
Love the first pic in this blog – that view will never get old….. Keep up the good works!!!
It is a great view! My husband too the photo…
Hello again from Florida,
I have read your book about Lady Almina, the 5th Countess of Carnarvon. I could not put it down. I was caught up in her story. And when it told about Lord Carnarvon’s death, I wept. It broke my heart that she lost the love of her life at such a young age after such a seemingly benign cut. I did not know that much about sepsis until I read this book. The fact that people are still dying from it even with our modern medicine is almost unbelievable. I agree with the other’s responses, it is a good charity to focus on to bring awareness to this sickness. I had no idea.
I had not heard of the TV program you mentioned. I will do a search and see if we can view it here in the US.
Wouldn’t a Football team with Doc Martin be hysterical? Especially if he stayed in character!!! Or how about Hyacinth Bucket? We really do enjoy British TV! I know the sickness is serious, but the Bible says “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine!”, and don’t we all need good medicine now and again?
You have posted a wonderfully thought provoking topic once again. Thank you.
See you in September,
Linda Sue Smith
Hello Lady Carnarvon,
I’m so glad that you are still writing your blogs. I was so thrilled to meet you at Highclere in May, as I travelled from Brisbane, Quennsland, Australia and visiting “Downton Abbey” was high on the agenda. I returned home and now have started watching the series all over again to see the beautiful castle, gardens and the village where Downton was filmed. I will return. Keep up the good work. It was a pleasure to meet you. Regards from downunder.
Like always I enjoyed your blog once again. Specially the death of Earl. Unfortunately everyone is always interested in how someone died.Maybe because they want to learn how not to die that way or just out of curiosity. Where he is laid to rest looks, so peaceful and serene. I hope some day that I will be able to come and visit with you at Highclere castle.I do miss the show Downton Abbey.
Ann Lydekker 7.10.18
Thanks for this thoughtful information. The term blog hardly seems to do it justice, but, anyway…
Especially enjoyed this excellent close-up interior shot of Tutankhamen’s burial art!
The detail, seen from a new (this) angle, displays the extraordinary presence of this artifact within the museum housing/case. It is most interesting and wonderful.
Am looking forward to getting the Highclere cookbook.
Best wishes from C. H.
We had a lovely visit yesterday at Highclere. Beautiful gardens and being able to visit the house just made for a wonderful day. Even bought a book to take home with me. Thank you for the great day.
Although I live across the pond, I still have family and friends living in the UK I will share this story on social media and wish you every success in your endeavours
Thank you I am very grateful
We’re watching the Tutankhamen mini series on PBS. Yesterday we saw the episode in which people are questioning whether removing the artifacts from the tomb and carrying them to England is legal. Can you give me more input on this? Thanks. Also do you have a Heroes at Highclere event every year. We would like to attend next year.
All the works of art from the Tomb of Tutankhamun stayed in Egypt – they were carried out to be taken to Cairo – none are here for sure!!
This Heroes Centenary is a one off – 1918 to 2018. It is the last visible landmark it seems to me from what our parents and grandparents went through.
It was almost 3 years ago that I had the complete honor of meeting you in the back of Highclere Castle. You had just flown in from being in Austin, TX. I’m thrilled to say we are returning to London in about 7 weeks because I definitely left a piece of my heart there. My prayers are with this boy who is so very ill. I hope you’re having a FABULOUS day!!!
So the artifacts that we saw at Highclere were not from the tomb?
Lord Carnarvon worked every winter in Egypt from 1906 to 1922 …
Sepsis is as deadly now as it ever was. What is frightening is how fast it acts. Often too fast to be stopped, even with modern antibiotics. Your’s is truly a worthy charity.
from the E.Ky. foothills
I always enjoy reading your posts and taking away the messages you are rightly portraying.
Did you find a band? The Royal Marines put on quite a good show. The plans for 8/9 Sept look very exciting.
I hope Combat Stress have confirmed one for us. Please share our efforts for Sept 8/9 – we wish to fill the Castle and grounds on this occasion! It is an “altogether” moment in time .. we would be so grateful if every one recommended it to someone else – it would start to spiral..
I’m working with the Defence Medical Services – lots of effort to share the event. Can’t wait.
Thank you for this lovely morsel of history and your continued vision for a healthier world
A moving story. Thank you for sharing. Didn’t Lady Sybil on Downton die of sepsis?
I believe she died of eclampsia – a complication of childbirth, equally devastating.
A wonderful story on the 5th Earl. Septicaemia is a condition which occurs in many hospitals as a result of medical complications also. The UK Sepsis trust, is giving it the importance it deserves.
Back to basics…