It’s May, 1954. At Deerpark House in North Yorkshire, the home of Lord William and Lady Tanya Marchmain, a group of guests are assembling for a weekend party. Before Friday night is over Lord William will have been murdered by one of the weekend residents at Deerpark House. Because of a dangerous escaped prisoner from nearby Scampston gaol, the house is in lockdown. The telephone has been cut off and it’s too dangerous to leave the house to go and get police assistance.
There’s nothing for it, the remaining house guests will have to try and solve the crime themselves. Everyone in the house is a suspect, everyone has a motive for murdering Lord William. The question is whodunnit?
Actually it was really May 2017 when a group of our friends gathered to help celebrate Liz’s 60th birthday. We played out a murder mystery that Liz wrote especially for the occasion. There were nine of us, each with a motive for murder and with plentiful clues spread around the house to back the motive up. Each guest picked an envelope, inside eight of them was written a letter I (for innocent), only one person had a letter G for guilty.
The idea was that, by examining the clues and questioning each other, each of us would try and identify the murderer. We did most of the questioning on Friday night, sat around the kitchen table at Deerpark House. In true Agatha Christie fashion, we all gathered in the drawing room on Saturday night for the denouement. We’d already each nominated our preferred suspect and, over killer strength cocktails, we all revealed our choices and then voted for who seemed the most likely suspect.
We had great fun playing at detectives and everyone got into character. After the killer was revealed we retired to the dining room for dinner and copious amounts of wine. The photographs below show a little of what went on.
The Scene of the Crime
Deerpark House is a real place near the Village of Wintringham, in North Yorkshire. It started life as a hunting lodge in the eighteenth century and has been extended over the years and is now a beautiful, but quite eccentric building.
I started out the evening as Lord William Marchmain, to help set the scene for the murder, but when everyone went up to their rooms to dress I quickly changed character and placed the body in the dining room.
What a dodgy crew they look. If I were trapped in a country house for the weekend with this lot I’d probably barricade myself in my room and wait for help.
Fake photo’s, dodgy passports, incriminating letters, old newspaper clippings and a genealogy chart were amongst the clues spread around the house. Here they are all gathered together for the guests to review.
I learnt one thing over the weekend, and it’s that I’ll never be a cocktail waiter. It’s a miracle that we were all able to stand upright for this photograph of us all gathered together to discover the identity of the murderer.
During the course of cocktails we all revealed our prime suspect and then voted for the one person most likely to have killed Lord William. The person with the highest number of votes then had to reveal their innocent or guilty card. To be honest, there wasn’t much doubt amongst us about the nefarious villain.
It just goes to show you can’t get the staff nowadays. The unrepentant Mrs Danvers (Liz) was revealed to be the murderer.
It all ended happily.
Fortunately no peers of the realm were harmed during the murder mystery, and we all ended up in the dining room for a lavish meal. Even Lord William joined us.