The Egyptian Hall in Piccadilly

The Egyptian Hall in Piccadilly

The Egyptian Hall, also known as Bullock’s Museum, while much smaller than the British Museum was extraordinarily unique. When Lord Admiral Nelson triumphed at the Battle of the Nile in 1798, English interest in the “East” began to soar. Although obelisks and other monumental pieces had been leaking out of Egypt for a century, Napoleon’s heavy thieving from Luxor and Karnak made Egyptian objects desirable amongst the European elite. Located in Piccadilly, the Egyptian Museum was commissioned by William Bullock as a museum to house his collection, which included curiosities brought back from the South Seas by Captain Cook. The museum was completed in 1812, and admission was set at 1 shilling, or 1 guinea for an annual ticket.

Egyptian Hall exterior in 1815
*click for Wikipedia article

It was the first building in England to be influenced by the Egyptian style. The building was designed by Peter Frederick Robinson, the cost £16,000. The grand hall of the interior was an extraordinary replica of the avenue at the Karnak Temple complex, near Luxor. Artifacts and exhibits included an alabaster sarcophagus from the tomb of Seti I, Napoleonic relics in 1816 including Napoleon’s carriage taken at Waterloo, ancient Mexican antiquities from Mexico City, and a herd of reindeer with their harnesses and sleds accompanied by a family of Laplanders with their furniture and even their huts.

Bullock’s Museum, Piccadilly, London circa 1810

Bullock sold the museum to bookseller George Lackington in 1825, and over the decades the focus changed several times until 1905 when the building was demolished. A Starbucks now stands where the museum was… another reason to hate Starbucks. LOL!

Exhibition of Ancient Mexico at the Egyptian Hall in Piccadilly, 1824. Lithograph view of antiquities, including a calendar stone, pillars, statues, and people.
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Sharon Lathan

Sharon Lathan is the best-selling author of The Darcy Saga, a ten-volume sequel series to Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice.

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Claudio

Hello Sharon! A very nice and interesting article. I loved the ending, “another reason to hate Starbucks… LOL” (I hate Starbucks too!)

BTW, I remember reading that Napoleon’s carriage was destroyed in a fire. However, as you did not mention that disaster ever taking place at the Egyptian Hall, I did a bit of research and I found that it was bought by Madame Tussaud in the 1840s. It was in her museum that Napoleon’s carriage was destroyed by a fire in 1925. What a sad loss!

The carriage had been captured by a platoon of Prussian soldiers under the command of Major von Keller, who later on sold the carriage to the British government for the huge sum of 3.500 guineas! God only knows how much William Bullock paid for it!

Thank you for your wonderful stories

Regards

cindie snyder

Nice pics! Those Starbucks are all over!lol

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