At first sight, Yarnton Manor might indeed appear a fitting setting for a mysterious and intriguing crime: Morse or Miss Marple would surely have a field day examining the Manor’s many rooms and pondering over the perpetrator’s possible escape routes. So, when students climbed the stairs to the Long Gallery yesterday, and were greeted with the words “CRIME SCENE: DO NOT ENTER” emblazoned on yellow tape, imaginations were ready and set to spark.
The scene in question was a carefully constructed one, done so by Eleanor from Forensic Outreach, an organisation that runs immersive forensic science workshops for students. Students learned some of the many skills of the trade, such as dusting bottles for fingerprints, taking casts of footprints, and examining blood spatters in order to recreate the attack and determine the weapon that caused them.
This particular case concerned a wealthy woman who was found murdered in her home, surrounded by wine bottles and pill containers. Students ran through the various possibilities: suicide, robbery, a crime of passion…? In the end, happily, the culprit was rooted out: it was Kay’s daughter Leigh, who returned home from a hedonistic year of travelling to find that the family’s money was quickly running out, and had shot her mother in a bout of frustration at the prospect of a more economical lifestyle.
It was clear to see that students enjoyed the thrill of the quest, following clue after clue and analysing evidence to build their narratives of what had happened. Many even expressed an interest in pursuing the subject in study, and Eleanor, a graduate student in Forensic Science at the prestigious University College London, was more than happy to answer questions and suggest further reading and research.
After this highly stimulating afternoon, students either settled down to finish off some homework in the Morning Room, or ventured out to the basketball courts to practise their full-court press.