Chapter 1 : Daughter Almina : A mysterious beginning
The year 1876 is notable for many things. Queen Victoria was crowned Empress of India by her Prime Minister, Benjamin
Disraeli. Alexander Graham Bell was granted a patent for an invention he called the telephone. Melvil Dewey invented his classification
system. The United States celebrated its centenary. And Almina Victoria Marie Alexandra Wombwell, destined to be the 5th Countess
of Carnarvon, was born.........
Chapter 2 : The Marriage of Convenience: A Mother’s wisdom
George Edward Stanhope Molyneux Herbert, the heir to the Earldom of Carnarvon, was born
on 26 June 1866 in his parents' London townhouse at 66 Grosvenor Street. He was named after his maternal grandfather but was
initially known – as are all Carnarvon heirs – by the Viscount's title of Lord Porchester (Porchey for short).....
Chapter 3 : The New Earl and
Countess Step Out - 1895-1902.
For Lord Carnarvon, the jewel in the crown of the Carnarvon estates was undoubtedly
Bretby Park. The name Bretby is of Danish origin, and means "farm of the Britons". This was an ideal sanctuary of an ancient
hall nestled amongst mature trees, a deer park, a chain of ornamental lakes and a clutch of dairy farms. Bretby Hall had once
been home to the Chesterfields, and was the scene of the famous murder of Lady Elizabeth Butler, the wife of the 2nd
Earl of Chesterfield, who had his wife poisoned following (untrue) allegations of infidelity.......
Chapter 4: Years of Uselessness - 1903-1914.
In January 1903 the Carnarvons travelled to North America. The Earl had visited the country twice before; in his
playboy days, as Lord Porchester, he had gained praise there for his ability as a yachtsman. This latest trip was intended
to improve his failing health and provide rest, though it seemed to consist more of amusement, with planned activities including
a motoring tour, fishing expeditions to mountain lakes, horse racing and observing buffalo hunting in the Rockies. It was
Almina's first time in America, as it was for Marcus Johnson (Dr Johnnie), the Earl's tireless physician. Only George Fernside,
Carnarvon's faithful 37-year-old valet, had accompanied his master on a surfeit of similar sojourning around the world, including
the past trips to "Yankeedom".......
Chapter 5 : Years of Usefulness - 1914-1918
In 1914 Almina was aged 38. She had long tired of the year-on-year winters in Egypt. She cringed at the wretched
balls of the Cairo residency and the enforced greetings to the less-than-weighty Society figures of the world who drifted
through its portals, all seeking their own glimpse of the arid country‟s ancient monuments. Besides this, there was
little of interest in Lord Carnarvon's desert campaign with Howard Carter apart from sitting under inadequate parasols in
the aching sun and rubble. Almina was therefore happy to return from Egypt in April 1914; and when the season ended she was
consoled that Carter and Carnarvon's archeological work would be halted if war broke out......
: Paving the Way for Change - 1919-1922
With Alfred de Rothschild's legacy, the Earl was in a position to
guarantee his colleague Howard Carter further seasons in Egypt, and he invested the money on implements and an army of native
diggers. According to the late Thomas Hoving, in his book Tutankhamun: The Untold Story, Howard Carter had resumed his excavations
in Egypt in the autumn of 1917, but it wasn't until March 1919 that the Carnarvons were in a position to travel to the Valley
of the Kings......
Chapter 7 : Losing a
husband, gaining a husband - 1923-1924
In the New Year Lord Carnarvon and Lady Evelyn Herbert returned to Egypt, arriving at Alexandra on the SS Adriatic
on 25 January. For this trip to assess the Tutankhamun treasures, Carnarvon was happier to have his devoted daughter, rather
than his estranged wife, at his side. Lady Evelyn was her father's constant companion, and to his joy she had inherited Carnarvon's
fascination with Egyptology. Between the two existed a deep love and mutual admiration. One journalist, Valentine Williams,
described a tender friendship between them, delightful to watch Evelyn wanted to be by her father's side at the moment of
: Dennistoun v Dennistoun : The Dustbin Case -
By mid January of 1925 Howard Carter resumed work on the tomb of
Tutankhamun ( which had been closed since February 1924 ) under a new Egyptian agreement granted to Almina with "a choice
of duplicates of objects found there" . Whilst this removed one pressure from the Dowager Countess of Carnarvon‟s life,
another hung over her, and her husband, the Colonel, like the great Sword of Damocles: that of the impending court case of
Dorothy Dennistoun versus Ian Dennistoun.......
Chapter 9 : Getting
Back to Status Quo Bellum - 1925-1929
After all the mud-raking and costly litigation, Almina and the Colonel
decided to keep their distance from London and retreated to their estate at Alvie, Scotland in April 1925. They remained self-exiled
here even when another grandchild, Lady Anne Penelope Marian Herbert (1925–1990), the only daughter of the 6th Earl
and Catherine Wendell, was christened at Highclere Church on 12 April 1925.....
Chapter 10 : The Rise and
Demise of Dreams - 1930-1939
The year 1930 was an uneventful one for Almina, consisting merely
of ensuring Alfred House was ticking along nicely and attending social engagements. Sometimes maintaining her public image
demanded attendance at sombre Society events, such as the funeral at Westminster Cathedral in April of Commander Ronald Egerton
Balfour, who had died in a motor car accident and whose father, Brigadier-General Sir Alfred Balfour (1858-1936), was one
of Almina's committed colleagues during the Great War as the Commandant of the military port of Southampton, administering
: Retreat to the Hills - 1940-1949
In 1940 Almina poured her heart and her funds into her new nursing home, The Red House
in Hove. She was glad to be out of London, and saddened by news of deaths among her acquaintances and intimates – such
as Arthur and Mary Portman, close friends who were killed in the London Blitz when their house "fell like a pack of cards"
during an air raid.......
Chapter 12 : A Penniless Countess
For many years, Almina had used her charms, ingenuity and willingness to part with assets
to keep afloat in the face of financial difficulties. But by 1950, the proud Countess faced total ruin. In the 40 years
since the deaths of her wealth-providers, Marie Wombwell, Alfred de Rothschild and the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, Almina spent
a king's ransom. She had used and abused every last vestige of her portfolio of investments, properties, land, antiques, life
insurances and loans; every asset was gone......
Chapter 13 : Almina’s
Final Years – 1960-1969
The 1960s saw the publication
of various materials that related to Almina's life, outlining some events that had shaped her story. Almina was particularly
interested in mentions of her first husband. She prized a small enamel miniature portrait of the 5th Earl, which occupied
its place with other family photographs on her desk in all her homes, and talked of Carnarvon on days like his birthday and
whenever there was a radio programme, book or article published which featured the story of his historic exploits with Carter
in the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb........
Epilogue: Almina Secrets.......
Appendix 1 : Later events of interest.....
Appendix 2 : Research, Acknowledgements and Thanks...