The Old Swan in Harrogate is one of our favourite regular venues. Not only is it a charming building but the Queen of Crime also has a connection to this beautiful hotel.

When Agatha Christie disappeared in December 1926, she put The Old Swan on the map.

The story goes that in late 1926, Agatha’s husband Archie told her about his love for another woman, Nancy Neele, and that he wanted a divorce. On 3rd December that year, the couple argued, and Archie left their house, Styles, in Sunningdale, Berkshire, to spend the weekend with his mistress at Godalming, Surrey. It was on this night that Agatha disappeared. At approximately 9:45pm, without warning, Agatha drove away from the family home, after kissing her daughter, Rosalind, goodbye.

Her abandoned car, a Morris Cowley, was later found down a slope at Newlands Corner near Guildford. The only clue was a letter for her secretary saying she was going to Yorkshire. Agatha’s disappearance caused public outcry.

The speculation led to the then home secretary, William Joynson-Hicks, put pressure on the police to make speedy progress. Even the celebrated crime writers Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Dorothy L Sayers, were drawn into the mystery. Conan Doyle, with his interest in the occult, took a discarded glove of Christie’s to a medium. Sayers visited the scene of the disappearance and later used it as inspiration for the novel, Unnatural Death.

Eleven days following Christie’s disappearance, she was identified as a guest at the Swan Hydropathic Hotel, as The Old Swan was then called, in Harrogate. She has registered, surprisingly, under the name Mrs Teresa Neele, from Capetown.

Agatha never explained her disappearance. Although two doctors had diagnosed her as suffering from amnesia, opinion remains divided as to the reasons for her disappearance. One suggestion is that she had suffered a nervous breakdown brought on by a natural propensity to depression. This is thought to have been exacerbated by her mother’s death earlier that year, and the discovery of her husband’s infidelity.

Public reaction at the time was largely negative. Many believed it was all merely a publicity stunt. Others speculated she was trying to make the police think her husband killed her as revenge for his affair.

This mystery is what brings so many Agatha Christie fans to The Old Swan every year, so why not immerse yourself in one of our murder mysteries here and keep the mystery of Agatha Christie disappearance alive.

Click here to see our upcoming murder mysteries at The Old Swan, including The Answer is Murder on Friday 26th April.