‘Did you know that a Jersey girl was murdered close to where you live in 1919?’ wrote a lady from the Channel Islands Great War Study Group in an email whilst I was researching for ‘Ancasta ~ Guide me Swiftly Home.’
Here’s a link to their website, which is packed with interesting information and photos relating to The Channel Islands in WW1.
Driven by curiosity we cycled over to the churchyard in Church End Haynes, Bedfordshire which looks towards the imposing building of Haynes Park stately home (used for other purposes now but it was once Hawnes School and then Clarendon School)
Here’s a potted history of Haynes Park.
The grave stone was not hard to find, a WW1 military grave with an unfortunate tilt, almost as if the resident below was trying to get out! We sat on a bench close by, looking out over the park where men trained in an army camp during and after the Great War. Church End Haynes must have changed little from those days, a tiny hamlet nearly a mile from the main village of Haynes.
Several walks in the surrounding countryside, around the park and over towards the hangers at Shortstown I began to feel an affinity to this young girl, who I have renamed Lucille Vardon. I made a couple of trips to carry out research in the Bedford Archives, pouring over newspaper cuttings of the original trial and photos of the day. Next we planned a trip to Jersey, which I had visited as a child but only a couple of times as an adult. Armed with copied pages, photos and notes, the idea for ‘Murder, now and then’ was born.
My plot weaves in and out of the original murder, but it is set in 2019, with descendants inspired by people from the original murder case. Here is one the photos which set my imaginative brain to work overtime and inspired my murder mystery: