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Market Basing is a town in Berkshire[1] not far from St. Mary Mead and a recurrent location in the Christie stories and occurs in the universes of Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, Superintendent Battle and Tommy and Tuppence.

Location of Market Basing

Market Basing is thought to be based on the town of Basingstoke (this is in Hampshire and not Berkshire but is in the same general region). However the researcher John Curran in Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks: Fifty Years of Mysteries in the Making notes that Market Basing might be based on the town of Wallingford. Agatha Christie bought Winterbrook House in Wallingford in 1934 and lived there until her death in 1976. In her notes on her general plan for the novel Dumb Witness, she writes that Poirot decides to go to Market Basing. There is then the mention of "The Lamb" - an actual coaching inn in Wallingford, now an antiques centre.[2][3][4]

Market Basing in the Christie stories

  • The Market Basing Mystery (1923) - earliest mention. Hercule Poirot, Captain Hastings and Inspector Japp go there for a holiday and solve the mystery of a death there.
  • The Secret of Chimneys (1925) - Chimneys is located not far from Market Basing. The police station of Market Basing answers its call to report a death.
  • The Seven Dials Mystery (1929) - Several of the houseguests of Chimneys travel to the town to buy alarm clocks for a prank.
  • Dumb Witness (1937) - Most of the action takes place in this town.
  • 4.50 from Paddington (1957) - brief mention as one of the stops for a train out of Brackhampton.
  • The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side (1962) - Hellingforth Studios is located six miles from Market Basing.
  • A Caribbean Mystery (1964) - Molly Kendal reminds Miss Marple of the conductress on the Market Basing bus.
  • By the Pricking of My Thumbs (1968) - A lot of the action takes place here. This Market Basing is located in fictional "Melfordshire" but the distance from London and other geographical indications match.
  • Five Little Pigs - according the researcher John Curran, Christie's notes for Five Little Pigs when she wrote out the scheme for the five pigs, against the first one (who went to market) she had written in brackets "Market Basing".[5] However in the end she did not use this town. Philip Blake was a stockbroker and the allusion refers to the stock markets.
  • Nemesis - Miss Marple says she lives in the country (implying St. Mary Mead), a small place halfway between Market Basing and Loomouth. Here she says St Mary Mead is 25 miles from London.
  • Crooked House - Josephine Leonides is taken to Market Basing general hospital after being injured. This suggests that Market Basing is near Swinly Dean which is a suburb of Greater London.

Houses in Market Basing

The Market Basing Mystery

  • Leigh House

Dumb Witness

Businesses in Market Basing

Dumb Witness

By the Pricking of My Thumbs

The Seven Dials Mystery

Crooked House

  • Market Basing general hospital

Townspeople

The Market Basing Mystery

Dumb Witness

The Secret of Chimneys

References

  1. As seen in Emily Arundell's letter to Poirot in Dumb Witness.
  2. John Curran, Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks: Fifty Years of Mysteries in the Making (London: HarperCollins, 2011), Part II.
  3. The Lamb Arcade, Wallingford
  4. The Lamb, Wallingford
  5. John Curran, Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks: Fifty Years of Mysteries in the Making (London: HarperCollins, 2011), Part III.
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