Murder at Ettington Park Hotel!

I’ve wanted to do a murder mystery for a very long time – in fact, ever since they featured one on an episode of Chucklevision way back in the 90s (ah, they don’t make children’s TV like that anymore). So I put it on my 30 Before 30 list, and when I saw that they were running a couple of Sherlock Holmes Murder Mystery evenings at our beloved Ettington Park Hotel, where we got married, I signed us up straightaway.

When we got there, we had to wait in the Drawing Room, which was looking really beautiful decked out for Christmas. There was a large party of glamorously dressed people also waiting, and though we’d dressed smartly, we felt somewhat underdressed in comparison! They were all rather loud and obviously knew each other, and some of them seemed quite theatrical, so we surmised that they had probably done this sort of thing before. Then a man appeared dressed as Sherlock Holmes and started recruiting volunteer actors from among the group. We were scared because we didn’t want to do any acting, but luckily the loud group supplied enough volunteers that we didn’t have to!

Christmas at Ettington

From there we were led through to the South Room (where we and our guests had breakfast the morning after our wedding), where we found our table and introduced ourselves to the people sitting next to us. The whole evening was conducted in the same room, so it was quite different to what I’d been imagining – I thought we’d get to hunt all round the hotel for clues! Instead, the volunteer actors played out scenes from time to time throughout dinner, and we were given pretend newspaper articles and written clues to help us work out who the murderer was.


We had to make deductions based on the clues we’d picked up throughout the evening and ultimately accuse someone of the murder. I’m not very good at working out this sort of thing – I never guess who the murderer is when I watch detective shows – but between us we came up with a possible culprit and motives and jotted them down on our form. Somehow, and totally unexpectedly, WE WON!! We not only guessed the right person, but we were the closest to guessing the motives AND we correctly answered the tiebreaker. I had to stand up and be presented with our prize – a little bag of cheap gifts, one of which was a magnifying glass!

An interesting little addendum was how I worked out the answer to the tiebreaker question, which was ‘what year was this story set?’ Clues had been dropped into the newspaper articles throughout the evening and you were meant to work it out from that and your general knowledge. In fact I worked this one out very early on in a rather unexpected way – one of the newspaper stories was about the first year electric Christmas lights were used in the White House (no date was given), and that just happened to be almost identical to the fact contained in my Christmas cracker, which did give the date! I asked Sherlock near the start of the evening whether it was the right year and he said it was a complete coincidence that it was in the cracker, but it was indeed correct! Maybe I’d make a good detective after all.

Dinner was a smoked salmon starter (soup for Lee), followed by turkey, followed by sticky toffee pudding, so we treated it as our ‘freelancers’ Christmas dinner’. It was good fun, and lovely to be back at our wedding venue and to see it so beautifully adorned for Christmas. So that’s another thing ticked off on my 30 Before 30 list – stay tuned for more coming soon!

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