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In the novel The Sittaford Mystery, Miss Caroline Percehouse is the resident of cottage No. 4 at Sittaford. Mrs Curtis of cottage 5 described her as "a spinster of uncertain years and temper who had come down here to die." Miss Percehouse had moved in some six years before the events in the book. Since that time, however, she had found the country air so good that her health appeared to have improved greatly.

A typical invalid but curious elderly woman, she naturally asked to see Emily Trefusis when she arrived at Sittaford to see if she could find something to clear her fiance James Pearson of the murder of Captain Trevelyan. Emily observed that Miss Percehouse had "a thin wrinkled face and with one of the sharpest and most interrogative noses" she had ever seen. Emily did not mind Miss Percehouse's bad temper. She found her a sort of kindred spirit. Miss Percehouse was someone who got straight to the point, always intended to have her own way, and bossed people around, and because she lacked good looks, had to do it by force of character alone.

Besides giving Emily a rundown of the various residents of Sittaford, Miss Percehouse also provided Emily with a vital clue. Mrs Willett had always claimed that she had only been to South Africa, England and the Riviera. Yet when they arrived at Sittaford, a luggage label had fallen off one of their bags. Miss Percehouse had picked it up and it read "Mendle's Hotel, Melbourne". In addition, Miss Percehouse assisted Emily by giving her an excuse to visit the Willetts. She wrote a letter asking Mrs Willett for the recipe of one of her cakes and asked Emily to deliver it for her.

Emily Percehouse had a nephew Ronald Garfield, who occasionally visited his aunt, "to dance attendance" hoping to benefit at some future time from her will. As one of the neighbours Mr Rycroft observed, Miss Percehouse was a shrewd woman who knew what Ronald's attentions are worth and she kept him "dancing". During Emily's visit to Sittaford, Ronald wass seen frequently being summoned and ordered to do so chore or other.

Portrayals[]

Agatha Christie's Marple[]

Miss Percehouse is one of the few character names which were retained in ITV's 2006 adaptation of the novel, although the firstname is changed to "Elizabeth". She has, however, a totally different backstory and role to play in the plot. She is not at Sittaford but a guest at The Three Crowns hotel at Exhampton. Her relevance to the plot is only explained towards the end of the show. Elizabeth Percehouse is portrayed by Rita Tushingham.

As it turned out, Percehouse is Elizabeth's maiden name. Her husband was an archaeologist in Egypt whom she was certain was murdered by Clive Trevelyan some 25 years previously. See the article on Arthur Hopkins for details. Elizabeth travelled to Egypt to confirm the facts and there met Ahmed Ghali who agreed to help her exact retribution.

On the night that Ghali was meant to kill Clive at Sittaford House by poisoning his after dinner Turkish delight, Elizabeth was surprised to Clive check in at the Three Crowns. She tried to tell Ghali about this but Ghali had cut the phone line to Sittaford House as part of his plan. Elizabeth tried to go to Clive's room later in the night to kill him herself but she had mislaid her spectacles (the innkeeper Stanley Kirkwood had taken her glasses for reasons of his own). As a result she went to the wrong room and failed in the attempt.

Elizabeth Percehouse claimed to be a member of the Psychical Research Society, Lyme Regis branch. In the original novel it was Mr Rycroft who was a member of the society.

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