Monday, 28 September 2009

Which one is the Carter House?

Yes I have been confused for years as well, various drivers and guides will tell you as you enter the road leading to the Valley of the Kings that the house you can see is the Carter House. I hope my photo makes it clear. The one at the very top of the hill is the Stopplaere House and below is an excellent description. Also on this website you can find many photos.

"The Stopplaere House, which dates from the year after New Gourna was completed, was designed as both a guest house for the Department of Antiquities and the headquarters and apartment of Dr. Alexander Stopplaere who was the chief restorer of the Department at that time. The architect's drawings of the house, which went through several revisions, all convey the difficulty of combining these two diverse entities into one, showing how the architect was struggling with the duality of functions involved.
The first scheme he attempted uses a square plan to group both sectors around two perfectly balanced parallel courtyards that are divided by a bisecting wall. The demands of a ridge-like, linear site, however, which is strategically located at the summit of a step ridge overlooking the main entrance into the Valley of the Kings and Queens at Luxor, eventually forced the opening up of the plan into an elongated rectangle. A skylit gallery, of a kind that first appeared in the Hamid Said house, is used to join both sides of the residence, and the bisecting wall of the original concept finally emerges as a fully expressed buttress in the finished building, effectively separating the main entrance and its garden from the private quarters of Dr. Stopplaere.
In spite of the fact that no "as-built" drawings for this project exist, the small collection of initial sketches that have survived provide a rare insight into the creative thought processes of the architect, and show how actual site conditions began to inform a beginning design idea. The photographs of the actual building are equally important in that they include interior views of both the rooms and the courtyards. As is the case with so many of Fathy's surviving works today, access into the Stopplaere house is now very restricted, which gives these interior views added significance."

The house in the grove of tree at the bottom is the Carter House, so called Castle Carter 2. He had previously had a house at Medinet Habu called Castle Carter 1. According to TGH James in the winter of 1910/11
“Carter had by them been working for Carnarvon for two seasons and it must have become clear to both that there was to be a future in their association….A gesture in the direction of putting down roots in Thebes, presumably with an eye to future work, was the building by Carter of Castle Carter II. It was designed by himself along vernacular line – solid, roomy, four square, with a central hall with a dome…. In no time he would be receiving guests, there was much to be admired ‘Carter has built himself a delightful house at the north end of the necropolis and moves in soon’ (Weigall): ‘Theo and I had a charming afternoon with Mr Carter in his new house – so well built and arranged and pretty – it looked like the abode of an artist and scholar (Mrs Andrews); By noon we had reached the new house that Carter had built for himself… and it being very warm, we determined to call upon Carter and take drinks off him. I was glad to have an opportunity of looking over his house, which is delightful, simple mud walls, not rendered conspicuous by any plaster, very little furniture but what there is artistic (Gardiner).”
. Many years later after the discovery and clearance of the tomb it would be described
“ very comfortable, a house much above the standard of field bases and of frequent champagne”
also taken from James’s excellent biography of Carter.

Today when I was at the site the architect Dr Hany was showing me photos of various pieces of furniture that had been left in the house and which he intends to restore to their former glory. He was also much struck by the wooden electrical fittings which are ideal for what is available in Luxor, the climate and the times. The work is proceeding at a tremendous pace and the house is already looking much nicer than its neglected state shown here in my photos


Vintage Mum said...

Hi Jane,
Funnily enough when I was on my first "Lets rush the tourists round Luxor and fry their brains" trip I was incorrectly informed on two occasions. Once I was racing past on a coach for the VoK and another on a hot air balloon ride. Thanks for clearing that one up.
Carolyn x

Jane Akshar said...

I think everyone has been confused about this. Salima Ikram told me the name of the one up the hill and I was so suprised it was built in the 1950's

Stuart Tyler said...

Hi Jane- I was also informed that the one you see from the road into the VOK is Carter's house. They even went into some detail about it. I now have a number of incorrectly labelled photos at home. Thanks for the clarity,

Jane Akshar said...

I hope you are not all cursing me lol

Anonymous said...

The one up the hill is the Stopplaere House (PDF/Download) Bibliotheca Alexandria Hassan Fathy (Page 98/99, Stopplaere House)

Anonymous said...

There is an old photo from Castle Carter (bottom of the page) "The first Ford in the desert", outside Castle Carter... 1923.

I think, the house is the same as this "Howard Carter House (FotoCommunity)

Jane Akshar said...

those are all great contemporary outside shots but what I need is interiors of the period. Sadly I don't think those exist

Anonymous said...

Here was the question "Which one is the Carter House?". The question of "help, interior photos of the Carter House" will be solved too. I hope so! I see it then on the 4th November!