Sanctuary is a short story written by Agatha Christie, first published in This Week under the title Murder at the Vicarage (not to be confused with the novel The Murder at the Vicarage) in the US in 1954.

The story was gathered and published as part of the short story collections Double Sin and Other Stories (US, 1961) and Miss Marple's Final Cases and Two Other Stories (UK, 1978).


“Bunch”, engrossed in her flower arrangements for the church, is placing the chrysanthemums when she sees a man crumpled over on the chancel steps, dying. The man utters, “Sanctuary” and murmurs something else which can cannot make out. No one at the vicarage understands what he means, and nothing can be done to stop his death. But, when his relatives promptly arrive to pick up his possessions, Bunch can’t get the word out of her head. Who is this man, and what does “sanctuary” mean?

Plot summary

(may contain spoilers - click on expand to read)


Chipping Cleghorn




Publication history

  • 1954, This Week, instalments September 12 to September 19, 1954, illustrated by Robert Fawcett. (Under the title Murder at the Vicarage)
  • 1954, Woman's Journal, October 1954 (The magazine paid a "considerable" amount of money for the story in a charity auction for the Westminster Abbey restoration appeal fund, 1954.)
  • 1961, Double Sin and Other Stories
    • 1961, Dodd Mead and Company (New York), Hardcover, 247 pp
    • 1962, Pocket Books (New York), Paperback, (Pocket number 6144), 181 pp
    • 1964, Dell Books, Paperback, 191 pp
  • 1978, Miss Marple's Final Cases and Two Other Stories
    • 1978, Ulverscroft Large-print Edition, Hardcover, ISBN 0-7089-2346-1
    • 1979, Collins Crime Club (London), October 1979, Hardcover, 140 pp ISBN 0-00-231596-3
    • 1980, Fontana Books (Imprint of HarperCollins), Paperback


The short story was adapted by Joy Wilkinson for BBC Radio 4.

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