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.
Deerpark House at Scampston, the setting for our little mystery.
The home of Lord William and Lady Tanya Marchmain. Who knows what ugly secrets hide behind it’s walls.
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.
Lord William Marchmain, found dead at his desk at Deerpark House. Everyone has a motive for murder, but who hated Lord William enough to do the deadly deed?
Lord William is obviously a tough old bird. Even after he has been found dead in his study, he refuses to leave the house. Here is is, waiting with his faithful dog Sally, while the guests question each other. Sally’s taken quite a shine to him and spent most of the weekend lying at his feet.
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.
Could this be the last night of freedom for one of this dodgy looking lot? Four potential victims in the drawing room at Deerpark. From left, Lady Tanya Marchmain, grieving widow of Lord William. Ronata Delron, successful artist and songwriter: thwarted in love by the dastardly Lord William, Johhny MacEnroe, nephew of Lord William: his tennis career threatened by his Uncle. Janetta Scarletta: is she hiding a dodgy past in espionage?
Is this what Janetta Scarletta wants to hide? Here she is rubbing shoulders with Stalin. But who’s side was she on?
Major Mainwaring enjoying a glass of Pimms. He loves huntin’, shootin’ and fishin’. The amiable old buffer also has a secret passion for Lady Tanya Marchmain. Was this enough to make him commit the crime?
This famous historian and genealogist, Professor Peter Plum, has been asked to trace the Marchmain family history by Lord William. But he’s unearthed a secret that brings him into conflict with Lord William. Did it all end in bloodshed?
Angelica Futura is a famous medium and frequent visitor to Deerpark House. But has a smouldering sense of injustice caused her to murder the peer?
A smiling Mrs Danvers, faithful housekeeper to Lord William Marchmain. But does the smile hide a sinister motive for murder?
The saintly Father Brown. Close friend of the Marchmain’s. But Lord William knows his guilty secrets and threatens to tell the Bishop. Is this enough to turn the priest into a killer?
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.
After Lord William’s untimely demise, the guests were asked to search the house for clues. Here is the collected hoard of evidence, enough to implicate each of the guess. But who really did the foul deed?
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.
The guests assemble for cocktails before the killer is revealed. Everyone is smiling, but someone in this photograph hides a guilty secret.
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.
Yes, it’s a spell at Her Majesty’s pleasure for Mrs Danvers. It look like she’ll be going to the land of stripey sunshine for a very long time.
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.
The killer unmasked, Lord William and his guests assemble for dinner.