decrease font-size reset font-size increase font-size

News release - Issued by Fairfax House

Pint-sized Fairfax House inhabitants creates a stir!

There is a mystery afoot at Fairfax House… and the quest is on to solve The Mystery of the Missing Jewels.

In Fairfax House’s latest creation, children are asked to turn detective in a quest to find the missing diamond jewels that have been stolen from Fairfax House.
This story revolves around The Townhouse Mouse, a concept that Fairfax House launched just last year, and the smallest inhabitant of Fairfax House, Gregory – who is the House’s new children’s mascot and ambassador.

Taking this concept a step further, the Quest for older children aged 8 to 12 years challenges them to act as historical detectives and solve clues using both their imagination and problem-solving skills to uncover who out of a line-up of suspects has committed the crime.

The Crime: On Wednesday last, a robbery occurred at Fairfax House, Castlegate. Notably, a rare diamond necklace of much worth ‘The Fairfax Brilliants’ was taken. No use of force to gain entry was detected. Gregory Townhouse mouse offers a reward for discovering any person concern’d in the theft.

Brilliants – a Georgian name for diamonds, are what have been stolen from Anne, the daughter of Gregory Townhouse Mouse. Using primary sources documents (including 18th century bills and letters from the Fairfax Archive at
Northallerton), as well as close observation of locations in the House, sleuths are challenged to crack six clues to help lead them to finding out who dunnit.
The line-up of suspects and their statements are as intriguing as an Agatha Christie novel, each with a possible motive and opportunity for committing the theft.

  • Mousieur Seguin, Confectioner
  • Thomas Kip, Linkboy
  • Hannah Garthwaite, Dressmaker
  • James O’ Connall Esq., Gentlemouse
  • Molly Pickering, Housemaid
  • Tobias Labadee, Sailor

What makes this so special is the unique way in which the characters have been brought to life. These characters have been drawn by the exceptionally talented illustrator, Nick Ellwood. Darker in style and tone than The Townhouse Mouse Trail created for younger children, the characters in this plot come from a wide variety of backgrounds. Inspired by real 18th century characters connected to the house, or drawn from the types of people that would have made up the melting-pot of York life, each mouse character brings a new perspective to Georgian city living.

Most especially, the Quest starts to turn our attention to what is going on outside of the four walls of Fairfax House – and takes us into the world beyond and the streets of Georgian York. Illustrator Nick Ellwood, in true Hogarthian-style, has created a set of street and city scenes to accompany the characters which are extraordinary in their detail and ability to bring Georgian York alive. A remarkable depiction of the bustling docks by the river bringing tall ships into the city centre, the poverty of medieval Water Lanes and the thriving shops and confectioners of Stonegate – all from a mouse-eye view.

The new Quest will be launched on Saturday 9th April in the last weekend of the school holidays with a day full of special activities including the chance to work with an illustrator to create your own mouse illustrations. Jenna Drury, the Quest Author, will also be in the house masquerading as an 18th century detective - come and find her.


Press Contacts: Hannah Phillip, Director Tel: 01904 655543



The Quest

The Quest is delivered in the format of a mystery to be solved that requires participants to act as historical detectives and problem-solvers. ‘Sleuths’ are challenged by being asked to use source material and look carefully, record, and follow hidden clues in each room. The aim is that by being actively immersing in this ‘quest’, young people are encouraged to share in experiencing this remarkable Georgian Townhouse. It also urges 8-12s year olds to imagine what living in York at this time would have been like, and how different people may have lived across society. Within the narrative, key concepts such as travel, food, urban life, social history, entertainment, crime and punishment are explored.

The Townhouse Mouse Trail

Fairfax House launched stage one - The Townhouse Mouse Trail in April 2015. The concept was introduced to offer a new and unique introduction for younger members visiting the house, encouraging them to open their eyes and imagination to life in a Georgian townhouse. The size and scale of the mice, as well as their period stylising and costuming, are integral to their affinity with younger audiences and role as children’s ambassadors.

The trail is based around Gregory the lead-mouse character and his country cousin, Charles, who together with their friends, encourage children to explore the house. ‘Mouse holes’ have been strategically located throughout for children to follow and take them from room to room. Children are encouraged to search closely for Gregory in each room and complete puzzles in the trail guide.

Illustrator and Writer

Fairfax House worked with children’s practitioner, Jenna Drury of Mud Pie Arts, to help write and develop the Quest, and artist/illustrator, Nick Ellwood, whose fascination for human behavioural quirks and characteristics is translated to the page with carefully observed line drawings created through both traditional and digital media.

Quest Launch

The Quest will be launched on Saturday 9 April during the last weekend of the school holidays. The Quest will be a permanent feature and offering for family visiting Fairfax House along with the Townhouse Mouse trail for younger children. For the special launch day of the Quest, Fairfax House is offering half-price entry for children embarking on both the Quest & Trail. There is also the chance to work with an Illustrator to create your own mouse illustrations. Jenna Drury, Quest Author, will also be in the house masquerading as an 18th century detective – and family are invited to come and find her and hear her stories.

Quest Funding

The Quest Project has been made possible by Museum Development Yorkshire funding with the aim of creating an experience that young people can engage in, and opening the opportunity for more children to experience the richness of Fairfax House.