Thursday, March 20, 2008

The British Ambassador's Residence in Cairo

Lord Cromer's Room

I spent a few days in Cairo the other week running a meeting with the Egyptian Government in the British Ambassador's Residence. This desk was used by Lord Kitchener and is now the Ambassador's. I hope the Ambassador didn't mind me sitting in it for a few minutes! It certainly made me want to send expeditions up the Nile to give the Fuzzy-Wuzzies a good thrashing!

This room was where Kitchener planned the reconquest of the Sudan. I had a jolly good breakfast there!

The Residence was completed in 1894 during the time when the first Earl of Cromer was Consul General in Egypt. Lord Cromer had arrived in Cairo as Sir Evelyn Baring in 1883 to become HM Agent, Minister Plenipotentiary and Consul General. He moved into the Consulate, a large rambling house in poor condition, on the Rue Maghrabi. By 1885 Baring was looking for a plot of land on which to build more functional offices and accommodation. He first considered surplus land adjacent to The English Church, which was bordered by busy roads. But there was a considerably more attractive plot adjacent to the Nile in what became known as Garden City.

The lobby of the Residence.

The original plot of land covered the area which is now the Residence and garden and used to run down to the Nile until the construction of the Corniche which cut off the house from the river. The plot was purchased in 1890 for a total sum of £2,580 and work began on the Residence, which housed both the offices and living accommodation. Work was completed in 1894.