Ancient history and moderntourism collide in the incredible story of this Egyptian statue, which dates from the last years of the New Kingdom.

The statue, carved around 1193-1185 BC, shows the seated likenesses of the high priest Sethmose and his wife Isisnofret. In the 1890s it was presented by the Egyptian authorities to John Mason Cook, son of the travel company founder Thomas Cook. The gift was made in gratitude for the many benefits of the tourism the Cook family had brought to the country.

Thomas Cook began his travel company in Leicester in the early 1840s, later handing over the reins to his son. The statue remained in the company’s offices until Thomas Cook went into administration in 2019 and its assets were sold.

Leicester Museums has an important Ancient Egyptian collection of more than 600 pieces, including several mummies donated by John Mason Cook. This statue now joins them there as a record of Thomas Cook’s significance to the city, as well as being a notable object in its own right.


The statue was given to Thomas Cook's son John Mason Cook by the Egyptian Authorities in thanks for his development of tourism on and around the Nile in the 1890's. John Mason Cook was the son of Thomas Cook who started what became modern touris

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