Five Go Mad in Dorset

Country Life Every Week - - Seasonal Arrangement: Spring -

Purbeck’s hills, heath­land, heather and gorse pro­vide the set­ting for most of the books. Bly­ton first vis­ited Dorset in the early 1930s; her sec­ond hus­band, Ken­neth Dar­rell Wa­ters, later bought the Isle of Purbeck golf club. (A Mrs E. Dar­rell Wa­ters ap­pears on the board of lady cap­tains in the club­house, for 1951.)

Corfe Cas­tle, with its jack­daws and tum­ble­down tow­ers, was the in­spi­ra­tion for Ge­orge’s ru­ined Kir­rin Cas­tle. Many books be­gin with the cousins ar­riv­ing at Kir­rin Sta­tion; mod­ern ad­ven­tur­ers can still take the steam train from Swan­age to Corfe.

Brownsea Is­land, in Poole Harbour, ap­pears as Whis­per­ing (or ‘Keep Away’) Is­land in Five Have a Mys­tery to Solve. ‘Yes, the is­land is real, and lies in the great harbour, still full of whis­per­ing trees,’ writes Bly­ton in the fore­word. In her day, it was owned by the reclu­sive Mary Bon­ham Christie and vis­i­tors were banned. Like Corfe, it’s now owned by the Na­tional Trust and is open from March to Oc­to­ber.

Five on Fin­nis­ton Farm is based on Bly­ton’s own Manor Farm, in Stour­ton Caun­dle. She bought it as an in­vest­ment and never lived there, usu­ally stay­ing at the Knoll House Ho­tel on Stud­land Bay for her thrice-yearly golf­ing hol­i­days.

Five Go to Mys­tery Moor is thought to be set on Sto­bor­ough Heath. The area, criss-crossed by lit­tle paths, is a na­ture re­serve; all six na­tive species of rep­tile can be found there.

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