CBE, Emma and King John, Harrogate Hydro, Hydropathic Hotel, Martin Tupper, Morris Cowley, sir arthur conan doyle, Sir Max Mallowan, Sunningdale, The Silent Pool
Best-selling mystery writer Dame Agatha Christie was distressed. On December 3, 1926, Christie kissed her only child, Rosalind, goodnight. She and her husband, Col. Archibald “Archie” Christie, had argued, and Christie left Styles, her Sunningdale house, in her Morris Cowley roadster needing to clear her head. The next day, the wrecked car was found abandoned and Christie missing. The mystery surrounding her disappearance has never been solved. However, there are several elements of the story that are worthy of discussion.
Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller (9.15.1890-1.12.1976) was born to an American father and a British mother and grew up in England. She is decidedly British. Her father died when Christie was 11 years old. Christie has stated that his death ended her childhood. Until then, Christie was homeschooled. This ended. She found the village school too confining. Her mother sent her to Paris; however, she soon returned to find her mother, Clara, ill. The pair spent 3 months living in Cairo. The visit had a profound and lasting effect on Christie.
In 1914, Christie married Col. Archibald “Archie” Christie. She soon found literary success. In 1919, they had their only child. The family of three eventually settled into Styles, a house named from her first published novel The Mysterious Affairs at Styles. Agatha uncovered Archie’s extramarital affair with Nancy Neale. Archie was heading for a weekend with “friends,” when Christie left the home.
Day 1. December 4, 1926: The Morris Cowley was found crashed into a hedge by the chalk pits, near the Silent Pool, a popular nature park. The Silent Pool is supposedly haunted.
The Silent Pool is a spring-fed lake located in Albury, Surrey, Southern England. The online pictures show a lake in a lovely shade of green. One wonders how a serene lake could be linked to a horrible folktale.
Long, long ago, the woodcutter’s daughter named Emma was bathing in the pool. She was a young lass of great beauty. She was bathing in the “all together” (an old phrase for nude). The equally young Prince John, the youngest surviving son of King Henry II and Duchess Eleanor of Aquitaine. He was riding by on his steed (a really old word for horse). John saw Emma and advanced, still on his horse. The scared Emma backed further into the water. Unfortunately, Emma could not swim. Her calls for help were heard by her brother, who quickly attempted to save her. Both drowned. John rode away, leaving behind a feather, and possibly his cap, with the family crest attached.
The woodcutter found his two dead children and the feather. Although the feather and crest incriminated John, he was never held accountable. He went on to rule England as King John from 1199-1216. The spirit of Emma is said to haunt the pool, appearing nude at midnight.
Legends embellish the hauntings at the pool. Stories claim that the birds do not sing and the pool is bottomless. Both are false. People enjoy the wildlife in the park. The birds do, in fact, sing. The wildlife is active. Further, the lake is actually quite shallow in areas.
The story is pure fiction. Martin Tupper made up the story in his book Stephen Langton, a Romance of the Silent Pool (1858). Tupper wanted to create a fantastic story about the pool in order to attract tourists and make the nearby town of Albury famous for something—anything. He succeeded.
The Silent Pool isn’t the only aspect of Agatha Christie’s disappearance linked to paranormal activity. Mrs. Christie believed her home Styles to be haunted, calling the house “spooky.” The house is now divided into apartments. There aren’t any substantive stories regarding hauntings online.
For four days, police enlisted the assistance of volunteers to walk the areas around the chalk pit where the roadster was found. Theories began to circulate. One theory was that Christie was suffering a mental breakdown due to Archie’s affair and Agatha’s mother’s death. Agatha remained close to Clara and was devasted when she passed.
Day 5. December 8, 1926: Agatha’s brother-in-law confirmed that he had received a letter from Agatha, where she stated that she was heading to an unnamed spa.
Day 7. December 10, 1926: Police expand the search. Now over 1,000 officers are searching.
Day 8. December 11, 1926: One of Agatha’s favorite terriers is brought to the chalk pit. Authorities hoped that the dog would lead them to her corpse. The dog “whined pitifully.” No body was recovered.
Authorities now report that Christie wrote three letters: 1) to her personal secretary to cancel an event; 2) to her brother-in-law; and 3) to Archie. Only the letter to the secretary survived, as the other two were burned almost immediately.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle enlisted the help from a clairvoyant, who held one of Agatha’s gloves. The medium proclaimed that the international best-selling author had met with foul play.
The working theory now was that Agatha dressed up as a man and made her way to London.
Day 9. December 12, 1926: Media were reporting that the clues of Agatha’s disappearance were contained in her unfinished manuscript The Blue Train.
Day 10. December 13, 1926: Somewhere between 10,000-15,000 people were now actively searching for Christie. Spiritualists held a séance at the chalk pit. They, too, were not so optimistic on Agatha’s return.
Day 11. December 14, 1926: The latest theory was that Agatha was hiding in London with no desire to return.
Day 12. December 15, 1926: Agatha found! Mrs. Christie was noticed by a banjo player who alerted the authorities. Agatha was, indeed, at the Harrogate Hydro or Hydropathic Hotel in Harrogate. She registered under an assumed name: Tressa/Teresa/Theresa Neele, spelling dependent on the source. The name was similar to Archie’s mistress’s name of Nancy Neale.
Day 13. December 16, 1926: The police update the public. Christie checked into the hotel unable to remember how she arrived. She had cash on her, as she enjoyed dinners, activities, and visiting the library where she obtained a library card. She was suffering from amnesia, though.
When Archie arrived to pick up Agatha, she made him wait.
Fifteen months after the incident, Agatha sued Archie for divorce on March 17, 1928. Thirty months later, Agatha remarried. Her new husband was prominent British archaeologist Sir Max Mallowan CBE, 14 years her junior. They remained married until her death in 1976. Archie also remarried. To Nancy Neale.
Christie refused to discuss the incident. She eventually took her version of events to her grave. Her eternal resting place is St. Mary’s Churchyard, Cholsey, South Oxfordshire District, Oxfordshire, England. Max died two years later. He is buried alongside Agatha.
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