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Mistral. Journal of the Mersea Island Society. 2005 Page 30.
Last year saw the centenary of the birth of Margery Allingham well known crime writer who created the sleuth Albert Campion. Stories of his detection are set around London, Suffolk and Essex; very much Margery's own background.
She was born in Baling May 20th 1904, the first child of two cousins Herbert and Emily Allingham who were both writers. In her writing, she carried on the strong tradition that had flourished in the family for four generations.
She was five when her parents moved to the Old Rectory at Layer Breton (now renamed Shalom Hall). The school she attended in Colchester became Endsleigh House School. Even at seven years old, her parents allotted her a room as a small office and encouraged her to write. When, in 1917, the family moved back to London, she became a boarder at Perse School for Girls in Cambridge.
For the three years 1921-1924 she attended Regent Street Polytechnic to study drama and elocution. It was there that she met her future husband Philip Youngman Carter who was later to become a prolific graphic artist and writer.
When the children were young, the family spent holidays in Clacton, but following their move to Layer Breton became very frequent visitors to Mersea renting one of the newly furnished houses in Seaview Avenue. We are told that she grew to love it and wrote juvenile poems such 'Sunset over Mersea', and 'Moonlight over the Island'.
Evenings on Mersea could seem rather slow for those used to London theatres and restaurants.
On August 3rd 1921 after the company had left, Margery suggested they amuse themselves by
'trying a glass' a pastime she had learned at 'The Perse'. This was a rudimentary form of
seance involving an upturned tumbler and a set of alphabet cards.
(The slaughter of the Great War, and the awful 'flu epidemic had precipitated an interest in spiritualism.) The four who took it up included Margery's father who made notes as the
evening progressed and later wrote up a formal account. In it he claimed that they found
themselves in communication with Joseph Pullen, a smuggler who had lived in Mersea two
hundred years earlier. They asked him about the old "Ship Inn" at East Mersea and the
murder that was said to have been committed there. During that and subsequent sessions,
they were convinced they had been given an account of real incidents happening to real people two centuries before. It led them to visit the site of the old Ship Inn, and for Philip to visit the Museum curator in Colchester to find if there was record of the C17th crime.
Photo: Mersea Museum
Image ID MIS_2005_032
Category 2 Places-->Layer Breton
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This image is part of the Mersea Museum Collection.