| Hurlstone |
|Location||Western Sussex, England|
|Appearances||"The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual"|
Hurlstone is an ancient manor house that features in the Sherlock Holmes story, "The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual". It is situated in western Sussex, England, and is the seat of the southern branch of the Musgrave family. The house is one of the oldest inhabited buildings in the country, and was built around the 16th century. In 1879 the house's owner, Reginald Musgrave, sought Sherlock Holmes's assistance following the disappearance of his butler Brunton.
The manor was built in the shape of a capital L, with the longer wing being the newer of the two. The original wing had thick stone walls and small windows, and a large, heavy-linteled door in the center, above which was carved the date 1607 (possibly the date of a renovation, as experts believe the original structure to be somewhat older.) Underneath the old wing was an expansive cellar paved with flagstones. This ancient wing had been abandoned in favor of the new one due to its inconveniences, and was used at the time Sherlock Holmes visited the house as a storehouse. The house was surrounded by a large park dotted with copses of elms and beeches and which featured a small lake. The house had a famously old and tall elm, which was speculated to have been alive during the Norman Conquest, but it was struck by lightning about 1870 and had to be removed.
During the mid-17th century, the house was owned by Sir Ralph Musgrave, one of the most loyal Cavaliers of King Charles I of England. After the king's execution during the English Civil War, his Royalist supporters took the ancient crown of the kings of England and hid it in the house's cellar. In order to protect the crown from the Parliamentarians and thieves, he wrote down its location in the form of a riddle called the Musgrave Ritual, with the intent it should be passed down through the family along with the secret of its meaning until the King's successor (Charles II) could reclaim the throne. However, at some point the transmission of the secret was interrupted, so while the Ritual was passed down, its meaning had been forgotten.
The meaning of the Ritual remained obscure until 1879 when the family butler, Brunton, worked out its meaning and decided to take the treasure for himself. However, he was caught reading the Ritual by his employer, who fired him on the spot, but, unaware of Brunton's intentions, nonetheless gave him a week to prepare his things to leave. During this time, Brunton worked out the remainder of the riddle and learned that the treasure was hidden in a secret room under the cellar. However, the flagstone sealing the entrance required at least two people and a wooden support to lift, and so he was forced to enlist the help of Rachel Howells, a maid who had always loved him but whose affections he had spurned. Pretending now to love her in return, he convinced her to help him lift the flagstones in the cellar, and descended into the room to collect the treasure. However, after passing the crown to the maid, either by accident or on purpose the flagstone fell back into place, trapping Brunton in the cellar. The maid, meanwhile, took the old crown, tied it in a bag, and flung it into the lake before returning to the house and then eventually running away.
The disappearance of the butler and maid caused quite a stir, and a great effort was made to find them. The lake was dredged, returning the sack with the crown in it, though to the searchers it just appeared to be twisted metal and glass. Completely perplexed, Reginald Musgrave decided to seek Sherlock Holmes in London for assistance on the case. Holmes accepted visited the house, where he quickly solved the riddle and found the secret chamber, along with Brunton's corpse. He also deduced that the supposed scrap metal was in fact the Stuart crown of England. The house was allowed to keep the crown, despite some legal trouble and a large sum that the government required them to pay. Rachel Howells was never found.