Murder in the manor house is the stuff of Agatha Christie, and it happened in real life at Stoke Lodge, Hollybush Hill, Stoke Poges, in 1919. Stoke Lodge was the seat of Sir Francis Mowatt, who had been a senior civil servant in Victorian times and was living in retirement.
Sir Francis had asked his son, also called Francis, 51, and daughter-in-law to come and live with him at the manor house. But the Spanish Flu epidemic, which was to kill more than a million people at the end of the First World War, struck at rich and poor alike, and among those afflicted were Francis Mowatt junior and his wife.
Both recovered, but both were left very weak and depressed. So it was that on JULY 1st a maid heard two gunshots from the couples bedroom and, rushing in, found both of them dead. Lying beside Francis Mowatt was a double-barrelled shotgun.
A coroners jury decided that Francis Mowatt killed his wife and then committed suicide, as a result of the depression caused by their illness. The deadly Spanish Flu, it seemed, had claimed two more victims.