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Dartmoor is an upland area in southern Devon, England which has strong personal associations with Agatha Christie. She is believed to have written The Mysterious Affair at Styles while staying at the Moorland Hotel at Haytor in the middle of Dartmoor.[1][2] She is also believed to have once owned a house at Throwleigh, a village at the northern edge of the moor. A number of her features are either set in Dartmoor or mention the place. In additional, she also wrote a poem Dartmoor praising its natural beauty.

Dartmoor in The Sittaford Mystery

Almost all the action in the novel The Sittaford Mystery takes place in and around Dartmoor. The story contains a large number of references to actual Dartmoor locations. This is perhaps the novel with the largest number of real places used as part of the plot.

  • The town where the murder takes place is easily recognisable as Okehampton, on the main road north of the moor. See the page on Exhampton, the name used in the novel, for details.
  • The village of Sittaford where most of the action takes place is believed to be either the villages of Belstone or Throwleigh.
  • Princetown, the location of Dartmoor Prison. Freemantle Freddy escapes from there. A bell tolls to announce his escape and can be heard at Sittaford 12 miles to the north.
  • Pixie's Cave - another actual location. Fremantle Freddy was supposed to hide here after escaping.
  • Sittaford Tor - Christie borrowed the name of of this actual location although it is not near to where she placed her namesake village.
  • The Duchy Hotel - once the main hotel in Princetown near the prison. Today it is a visitors centre.[3][4]
  • Two Bridges Hotel - an actual hotel near Princetown which is still operating.[5] See Brian Pearson for details of its mention.

The Adventure of the Dartmoor Bungalow

In The Adventure of the Dartmoor Bungalow, The murder takes place in a bungalow in the fictional Dartmoor village of Hoppator or Hoppaton. Inspector Meadows comes from the nearby actual town of Moretonhamptead located in the northeastern part of Dartmoor.

The Idol House of Astarte

The Thumb Mark of St. Peter

In The Thumb Mark of St. Peter, Miss Marple mentions the actual stone circle of Grey Wethers as an example of how context could determine what the listener/witness hears and understands of an utterance.

Evil Under the Sun

Poirot arranges an excursion to Pixy's Cave on Sheepstor for some of the guests at the Jolly Roger Hotel. He later explains that it was a test. One of his suspects had claimed to be afraid of heights yet was able to cross a narrow plank bridge without difficulty.

References

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