Disley's Lyme Park will be welcoming a different kind of mummy for Mother’s Day.
The National Trust-owned property is opening its doors to a touring exhibition from Manchester Museum, part of The University of Manchester, exploring the curious world of animal mummification in ancient Egypt.
Visitors to the Long Gallery will be able to see mummified cats, dogs and crocodiles, as well as delve into Lyme’s very own connections with Egypt through its intrepid Regency explorer, Thomas Legh.
‘Gifts for the Gods’ will explain the background behind this religious practice in the context of life in ancient Egypt and the environment in which the animals lived. It will explore the British fascination with Egypt, the discovery of animal mummies by British excavators, and how the mummies ended up in the UK, as well as taking a look at the history and future of their scientific study in Manchester.
The display features 50 objects from the Manchester Museum’s world-class Egyptology collections, including mummified specimens such as hawks, crocodiles, cats and even a shrew, with cultural artefacts such as bronze and wooden sculptures and rarely-seen archives.
Pamela Pearson, Visitor Experience Manager at Lyme, said: "We’re delighted to be welcoming this exhibition of Animal Mummies to Lyme to help us tell the story of Thomas Legh’s travels.
"If you’re looking to unwrap a day out with a bit of a difference this mother’s day then why not bring your mummy to meet our mummies.”
Thomas Legh travelled through Egypt as a young man and the exhibition will add to the story of his adventures. His book ‘Narrative of a Journey and the Country Beyond the Cataracts’, first published in 1816, provides the basis for a study of his travels in Egypt and the surrounding lands.
Dr Campbell Price, Curator of Egypt and Sudan at Manchester Museum, said: “This myth-busting exhibition allows visitors to experience being an ancient pilgrim entering an underground mummy catacomb, a glimpse of the travels of 19th Century explorers like Thomas Legh, and the work of modern scientists studying Egyptian animal mummies in the lab.”
Prior to the display at Lyme, the exhibition has been on display at a number of venues in the North West including Liverpool’s World Museum where it attracted over 100,000 visitors.
The exhibition will open with a reconstruction of the ancient Egyptian landscape which shows Egypt not as the desert we now imagine, but as a country of lush grassland, with taxidermy specimens showing what the animals would have looked like when alive. Egypt’s many gods could take animal forms to express their superhuman nature.
The display explores how images of animals – pictures, statuettes or mummies – could be used to communicate with the gods. Animal mummies and bronzes statuettes are the most common votive offerings – gifts to the gods.
For those looking to delve a bit deeper into the history of these mummified guests, a selection of specialist talks are being delivered by the Egyptology team from Manchester Museum.
‘Gift from the Gods: Animal Mummies Revealed’ opens at Lyme on Saturday March 10. The exhibition will be open every week, Friday to Tuesday, 11am to 5pm, until Sunday November 4.
House entry ticket required, prices can be found on the website: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lyme Entry is free for National Trust members.