‘Queen of Egyptology’ comes to Bolton, 140 years after she helped create the Museum’s Collection

Director of the EES to give FREE public talk on the 140th anniversary of the founding of Bolton’s First Museum on 12 June.

Bolton Museum is to display a newly conserved 130-year-old oil painting of Amelia Edwards, founder of the Egypt Exploration Society (EES).

It will go on display from 12 June 2024 in the Bolton’s Egypt galleries.

Amelia Edwards founded the Egypt Exploration Society in 1882 to excavate and record Egyptian heritage after she visited Egypt in 1873.

She recruited Local Honorary Secretaries across the world to raise funds for the work of the Society, including Bolton’s own Annie Barlow, through whom many of Bolton’s 12,000 strong ancient Egyptian collection was formed.

The Director of the Egypt Exploration Society, Dr Carl Graves, will give a free public talk on Wednesday 12 June 2024 at 7pm.

It will be held in the Basement Lecture Theatre, Bolton Library and Museum, Le Mans Crescent, Bolton BL11SE.

The event is free, and booking is not required. A pay bar will be available on the evening.

The event coincides exactly to the day with the 140th anniversary of the opening of Bolton’s first museum, the Chadwick Museum in Queen’s Park, which opened to the public on the 12 June 1884.

Bolton received its first collections of ancient Egyptian material from the EES later that year and is now the largest collection of ancient Egyptian material in a local authority museum in the UK.

It comes as Bolton is named Greater Manchester’s Town of Culture for 2024.

Speaking on this important event, Executive Cabinet Member for Culture, Cllr Nadeem Ayub said:

“We’re proud to showcase this incredible Egyptology collection in Bolton, where extensive work, research and planning has enabled the museum to be a standout one in the UK, where it hosts the largest Egyptology collection from a local authority museum in the UK.

“And with this, we recognise the importance of highlighting key historical figures that played a part in making the collection what it is today.

“Having the painting of Amelia Edwards, who founded the Egypt Exploration Society in 1882, travel to the museum is an honour, and we can’t wait to share and mark this special event with the public.” 

The Free Public Talk (12 June 2024, 7pm)

Talk Title: “A Thousand Miles Up the Nile with Amelia Edwards”

A chance visit to Egypt in 1873 by Amelia B Edwards changed the future of British Egyptology forever.

Her travelogue, A Thousand Miles Up the Nile, would inspire generations after her to take up her message to support and promote Egyptian cultural heritage.

In this evening’s lecture, Dr Carl Graves will talk about Amelia’s life and relive Amelia’s 1873 journey up the Nile.

The presentation is illustrated with archival material held by the Egypt Exploration Society as well as original artwork by Amelia kept at the Griffith Institute and Somerville College, as well as the University of Oxford and the Peggy Joy Egyptology Library.

The Oil Painting

This oil painting was donated to the Egypt Exploration Society in 1967 and shows Amelia B Edwards, founder of the Egypt Exploration Society.

She is presented sitting next to a table with Egyptian artefacts, perhaps from her personal collection, and holding a small faience, Egyptian funerary figurine, or ushabti.

It was donated by a Mrs Manston from Redruth in Cornwall. It is not immediately clear how this painting – and some personal notes of Amelia Edwards and her secretary Emily Paterson – came to be in her possession.

However, it is known that the latter retired to Redruth in 1919 having served as Secretary of the EES from the death of Amelia Edwards in 1892.

The Egypt Exploration Society

The Egypt Exploration Society is a UK charity that has been supporting and promoting Egyptian cultural heritage since its founding in 1882.

Today, it provides engaging, educational events online to audiences around the world and shares the results of the latest Egyptological research through its international membership programme.

For more information about this event, contact Ian Trumble, Curator of Archaeology, Egyptology and World Cultures at Bolton Library and Museum: [email protected].

For more information about the Chadwick Museum, visit: The Chadwick Museum – Bolton Libraries and Museums (

For more information about Bolton’s Egyptology collection, visit: Egyptology – Bolton Libraries and Museums (

About Bolton Library and Museum Services

A cultural hotspot of Bolton, the Central Library and Museum hosts eclectic events, galleries and collections, on of which is its Egyptology collection- the largest of its kind in a local authority museum in the UK. You will also find Greater Manchester’s only public aquarium sits inside this architecturally impressive, Grade II listed building. With venues across the whole town, including the historic Smithills Hall, Bolton’s Library and Museum Services keeps active with special events, exhibitions, sessions, and social groups across the town’s libraries and halls; helping to engage, educate and support communities.

To find out more about Bolton’s libraries and museums and what’s on, visit:

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