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The Mystery of Hunter's Lodge is the last, eleventh episode of series 3 of the ITV British television drama series Agatha Christie's Poirot featuring David Suchet as Hercule Poirot, first broadcast on 10 March 1991 in the UK. The episode is an adaptation of the Agatha Christie short story of the same name and was directed by Renny Rye with dramatisation by T.R. Bowen.


Poirot accompanies Hastings on a shooting party at the Hunter's Lodge, but is soon struck down with a flu. When their host is found murdered in the study, the Detective takes part in the police investigation from afar, only with the use of his little grey cells.

The TV adaptation is faithful to main premise of the original short story with respect to how the murder is carried out. Several additional characters have been created and side plots have been added. Poirot is actually there at the Hunter's Lodge with Hastings, although he does come down with a cold. The denouement and ending is different.


Comparison with Original Story[]

(may contain spoilers - click on expand to read)


Several non-canonical characters are added to the story:

  • Jack Stoddard, gamekeeper, widower and Harrington Pace's illegitimate brother, whom Havering controlled by promising him 300 pounds to purchase his house and be able to marry Joan the maid. He does not have an alibi for the time of murder.
  • Archie Havering, Harrington Pace's nephew, school-teacher and estate manager whom Pace did not pay and instead promised inheritance. He is in love with Mrs Havering. He does not have an alibi for the time of murder.
  • Mr Anstruther, station master of Ashby le Walken.
  • The real Mrs Middleton, who did not get to come to Hunter's Lodge but was later summoned by the police.
  • Lord Quamby (mentioned), the racing earl.
  • members of staff: young maid Ellie and older maid Joan
  • members of the local police force: Sergeant Forgan and Constable Cooke

The character of Mrs Emery, former housekeeper of Hunter's Lodge, is omitted.

Plot elements[]

Poirot and Hastings at the hunt

Poirot and Hastings at the hunt

  • Unlike the original story, Roger Havering is a friend of Hastings and invites him to Hunter's Lodge for the shooting season. Poirot also comes along although he falls sick after the first day's shoot. Instead of staying in London during his illness, he takes up residence at The Red Grouse Hotel, Room 5. After the murder, Japp also procures a room at the inn.
  • Harrington Pace is portrayed as a much more mean and dislikable man – according to his nephew, he got rich through cheating his partner in County Mayo and then used it for "profiteering in the war", which he then boasted about. During the shooting, he is accidentally shot in the hand by his nephew, a newbie at the sport. The wound is very shallow, but Pace is still furious and rages at Archie and Stoddard who was supposed to supervise him.
  • Mrs Middleton (later revealed to be an imposter) is more fleshed out in the adaptation. All that is known about her is that she is Irish, from County Mayo, as according to Joan, she otherwise kept herself to herself. She is always disappearing, leaving little notes of critique about, and upon her reappearance bickering with Roger Havering. In the original story, she is simply a middle-aged woman who is never seen in the presence of Zoe Havering and the clothes of the two women contrast a lot, which sets Poirot on the right track.
  • At the night of the murder, Roger Havering, Mrs Middleton and Joan go by car to the village (whereas in the original story, only Havering goes away). Mrs Middleton is to call on Stoddard but does not do so. After Roger Havering is shot, she comes out of the house, runs into Stoddard (who has been suspiciously lurking around the house with his shotgun) and implores him to go fetch the police. She does not telephone to the police station as in the original story because Mrs Havering is distressed and the housekeeper wishes to put her to sleep.
  • Ashby Le Walken Halt

    Ashby Le Walken Halt

    In the original story, Roger Havering had an air tight alibi in the form of his trip to London. Here, in a major side plot, Poirot, still sick in bed, calls for a railway timetable and breaks his alibi. After Ashby Pickard, where Roger boarded at 6:15, there is another nearby local halt named Ashby Le Walken. When disembarking from this halt, a person could cycle to Hunter's Lodge, commit the murder, and then board an express train from Ashby Pickard which could still reach London before the earlier local train (which gets to King's Cross at 9:00) and be at his club at 10:00. Challenged about this, Roger refuses to account for his movements and so gets arrested by Japp. He later confesses that he had gone somewhere else before reaching London: he went to see Lord Quamby to beg for more time to settle some horse racing debts. He could not admit in front of his wife because he had promised her he would never bet on horses again. Lord Quamby confirms his story.
  • Like in the original story, the major suspect is the housekeeper Mrs Middleton who disappeared after giving testimony about the murder. In the adaptation, they actually do find the "real" Mrs Middleton but she has an astonishing story: she had been met on arrival by one "Mrs Pace" and told that the shooting season had been cancelled. She had been paid off and asked to keep off the agency's books for a month, which she agreed to. Therefore the Mrs Middleton seen by everyone at Hunter's Lodge was an imposter.
    Japp sporting murderer's fake beard

    Japp sporting murderer's fake beard

  • Mr Anstruther, the station master of Ashby Le Walken, reports that someone did indeed disembark at the station on the night of the crime and stole his bicycle. The thief matches the description of the murderer. Poirot insists that the priority is to find the bicycle but neither Japp nor Hastings agree. In the end, he persuades them to come and with the help of Mr Stoddard's dog (whom the Detective gives the scent of Mrs Middleton's apron), they find the bicycle buried in the ground, along with the murderer's hat, overcoat and a bushy imitation of a beard. None of this happens in the original story, where the fake Mrs Middleton simply shot Pace, never leaving the house.
  • In the original, there is also no final scene in which Poirot unmasks the murderer – there was not enough evidence to arrest Roger or Zoe Havering, but they died in an air accident shortly after inheriting Harrington Pace's estate. Here, Poirot arranges the denouement by gathering everyone at Hunter's Lodge to explain his conclusions. The false Mrs Middleton had secretly got on to the train in disguise, come off at Ashby Le Walken, stole the bicycle and gone back to Hunter's Lodge. She shot Harrington Pace, alerted Mr Stoddard, hid the bicycle and became Mrs Middleton again before the police came. She was helped by Roger Havering whose alibi, initially flimsy but soon strengthened by the testimony of Lord Quimby, was to get the police off his scent – they would not suspect him twice. Thus, only the final question remains: who was this Mrs Middleton? Poirot invites the dog again and she heads for Zoe Havering. Roger blusters but Zoe tells him to shut up and they go with Japp quietly.
    Poirot, Hastings and Japp return from Mr Anstruther

    Poirot, Hastings and Japp stoicly return from Mr Anstruther

  • In the final scene, Poirot, Japp and Hastings go return the bike to Mr Anstruther, who is not very pleased since the bike is dirty and overall in a terrible state. Poirot is insulted by his lack of gratitude and Japp teases him, saying that he now knows how a real detective feels.

Tropes and themes[]

Poirot in bed with blackberry tea

Poirot in bed with blackberry tea

  • Poirot's quirks
    • his food – here the Detective is obsessed with Tetras à la Hongroise or the red grouse, which must be eaten fresh and is rare to come across in Belgium. He hopes Hastings will be able to shoot at least eight birds and the chef of The Red Grouse Hotel will prepare the dish. However, the Detective loses appetite during his illness and the délicatesse must be fed to the cat.
    • his contempt for the loudness of the shooting – he does not participate and wears earplugs, but still critisizes the "popping" in his ears which has worsened his health
    • his hypochondria when sick – he declares he is going to die several times and drinks blackberry tea as a remedy
      Poirot trying to avoid mud

      Poirot standing on a stone to avoid mud

    • his sense of hygiene – the Detective balances rather shakily on a stone rather than allow mud on his shoes
    • his sense of neatness – in the final revelation scene, he adjusts a hunting trophy on a cupboard
  • Humour
    • Archie Havering's love-stricken behaviour – when Mrs Havering calls after him, he literally falls off his bike.
    • Mr Anstruther's bike – he is in a frightful state about its disappearance, but upon the bike's return, he laments the state of it and is not really happy (or grateful) it has been found.
    • local bobbies – face to face with Japp from Scotland Yard, it soon becomes clear no one can expect wonders from the police force in such a one-horse place where there are only two policemen
    • banter between Poirot, Hastings and Japp about the true nature of detective work
  • Lavish scenery – moors, Castern Hall as Hunter's lodge

Filming Locations[]

  • Castern Hall, Ashbourne, Staffordshire – as Hunter's Lodge
  • Haworth Railway Station, Haworth, Keighley, Bradford, West Yorkshire – as Ashby Pickard station
  • Damems Railway Station, Damems, West Yorkshire – as Ashby le Walken Halt[1]
  • Park Hall, Parkhall Lane, Spinkhill. Sheffield. S21 3YD - the Red Grouse Hotel where Poirot stays.

Research notes[]

  • Poirot carries a small blue book with him at the hunt which he consults about the Tetras à la Hongroise. It is possibly a cookbook but its name is not visible.


Promotional Videos[]

See Also[]