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  • Location: Cornwall, Penhale, Bodmin

Falling Creatures

Falling Creatures

Why a Booktrail?

1844: The true story of a brutal Victorian murder

  • ISBN: 978-0749021412
  • Genre: Crime, Fiction, Historical, Non-Fiction

What you need to know before your trail

Cornwall, 1844. On a lonely moorland farm not far from Jamaica Inn, farmhand Shilly finds love in the arms of Charlotte Dymond. But Charlotte has many secrets, possessing powers that cause both good and ill. When she’s found on the moor with her throat cut, Shilly is determined to find out who is responsible, and so is the stranger calling himself Mr Williams who asks for Shilly’s help. Mr Williams has secrets too, and Shilly is thrown into the bewildering new world of modern detection.

Travel Guide

Cornwall and the true life murder of Charlotte Dymond

Charlotte Dymond did live at Penhale Farm and Matthew Weeks was tried for her murder. The memorial still stands on the banks of Roughnor Ford. The case is still well known and talked about in the area today as people are still convinced that the evidence for Matthew’s trial and conviction was feeble. The mystery surrounding Charlotte’s death still lingers in the wind on the moors. The rough landscape keeps its secrets still.

Katherine Stansfield’s tour of Cornwall:

A – The memorial to Charlotte Dymond that stands on the banks of Roughtor Ford.

This strangely isolated granite marker was erected not long after Charlotte’s body was found nearby and bears the words, ‘in memory of Charlotte Dymond who was murdered by Matthew Weeks’. Watch out for the marshes.

A. The top of Roughtor

Climb this tor – a sizeable hill crowned with huge slabs of granite piled in gravity-defying towers – and you’ll get a sense of the size of Bodmin Moor, and how beautiful it is. In Falling Creatures, protagonist Shilly and her lover Charlotte regularly escape their farm work to climb Roughtor and look out at the scrap of sea visible on the horizon. You can also hunt for the remains of St Michael’s chapel, first recorded in the 14th century, which Charlotte and Shilly never have time to do. The chapel inspired the name of one of the book’s more unusual characters.

C. Lanlary Rock/Davidstow

It’s easy to see why this enormous piece of granite – easily the size of a house – acted as a local landmark on the moorland close to Penhale Farm, one of the main settings in Falling Creatures. On the day Charlotte went missing, she was seen walking with a man in the direction of the rock, but where was she going? You can follow her journey across the moor but only if there’s no fog, otherwise the rock will disappear, and you might, too.

D.  Bodmin Jail

Visitors to the area should really visit here as well to see where many people were jailed over the years after being tried and convicted.

This is where Matthew Weeks was held following his arrest for Charlotte’s murder, and where he was hanged after an assize court found him guilty of the crime. His body is buried in the prison grounds.

E. Bodmin Moor – Courthouse

The courtroom where Matthew’s trial was held is now home to Bodmin’s Tourist Information Centre, and the adjoining courtroom has been preserved to give a sense of what the 1844 trial would have been like. A permanent exhibition about the murder of Charlotte Dymond is housed here; visitors are shown the evidence and asked to make up their own minds about Matthew’s guilt.


Streetview Maps

B) Cornwall -Penhale
C) Cornwall - Bodmin Court

Booktrailer Review

Susan: @thebooktrailer

This was a fascinating book. I’d never heard of this case and I quickly became very involved with it. It’s raw and eerie setting on the Cornish Moors, the wild and horrific nature of the girl’s death and the mystery of who might have done it and why was a fascinating insight into the life and times of 1830s Cornwall.

The Cornish landscape has never seemed so vividly desolate and haunting. Fact and fiction roam the hills on the Cornish moorland. Gothic mists, desolate moors and dark shadows roam each and every page.

The mystery of why Charlotte went missing and then the investigation which followed was simply captivating. Police at the time used methods and ways that seem so alien to us now, and of course there was little to no technology so the opinions and attitudes of the day were very different.

The writing is crisp and the entire case is set up very well so you get fully immersed in the darkness and shadows. I was fascinated with the police investigation and the reactions of those who lived nearby. The landscape sweeps the reader along with the mystery and the trees on Rough Tor wrap their spindly branches around your throat as you read.

There’s something about revisiting old crimes that sets them apart from modern ones that really allows the reader to see inside the heart of times past. I loved the character of Shilly and the mysterious Mr Williams as the world of modern detection opens up.


Booktrail Boarding Pass: Falling Creatures

Author/Guide: Katherine Stansfield Destination: Cornwall, Penhale, Bodmin  Departure Time: 1844

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