I was looking for some inspiration for a gift for my husband’s birthday and whilst searching the web, I came across a company called Charming Events. I read the list of different events they arrange and the Murder Mystery Evening on a Steam Train practically jumped off the screen! My husband is probably Agatha Christie’s biggest fan and also bemoans the fact that there aren’t any steam trains any more. So with two of his boxes ticked, I sent off for more details.
We travelled down to Sussex with a couple of friends and arrived at the very impressive Ashdown Park Hotel, where we were to spend the night, at about 3.15pm on Friday afternoon. To add to the atmosphere of a bygone era, already suggested by the brochure, we found the hotel was serving afternoon tea as we arrived! It was divine.
Our itinerary said we should be in reception by 6.15pm in order to check in and meet our fellow sleuths. We met up and boarded the bus that was to take us to a railway station owned and operated by the volunteers of The Bluebell Railway. The work they have done and continue to do, to keep the railway running is nothing short of miraculous.
Everyone was intrigued as to how they would carry out a murder on a train, (we were thinking Murder on the Orient Express here) but it soon became clear that we were first to watch a play, enacted in the improvised theatre above the waiting room of the station, by the brilliant actors of “The Company Upfront”. The play ended with a character being murdered and our job was to solve the “crime” with the help of our detective packs, whilst we were served dinner in a Pullman carriage of the Golden Arrow, travelling sedately through the Sussex countryside.
We had a great time. The dinner was delicious; characters from the play travelled with us and went from carriage to carriage, to be interviewed by “the detectives” in the hope that they could help us to solve the crime. There were some great actors taking part, lots of laughter and also serious concern as each of us rattled our little grey cells in an attempt to solve the clues and find the answers needed to complete our crime sheet.
Unlike the master detective Hercule Poirot, we changed our minds two or three times, before we handed in our crime sheet. Back at the station the winners were revealed – we weren’t among them. We did have the right murderer but didn’t get all the right clues, so no bottle of wine for us. We didn’t care. We had a great evening, thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience and went back to the hotel for a steaming mug of hot chocolate, just like Miss Marple would have done!