This section of the site is about Enid’s marvellous Mystery series. I thought of using the umbrella term ‘PETERSWOOD FOREVER’ for the following pages, as the name of Fatty and the Find-Outers fictional village is Peterswood. But Enid was always thinking of Bourne End as she typed and was constantly drawing on its layout, a layout that exists to this day. So on balance I’ve gone for the real place-name.

In 2008 I had a go at finding where Fatty, leader of the Find-Outers, lived in Bourne End. Once I’d established pretty well where it had to be using Google maps, Viking Star, a fellow member of the Enid Blyton Society, finished off the job on the ground, skilfully pinpointing the actual house. He took photos of what he (and I) think is the model for the White House, home of Fatty from the second Mystery onwards. Here is a glimpse.

Screen shot 2012-07-05 at 14.52.27

In pages to come, I want to retrace those footsteps, spell them out, and make it easier for the hunt to be followed by anyone, no matter where they live on planet Earth. But I also want to broaden the search somewhat. I want to learn (and perhaps teach) how Enid made evocative use of the physical geography of Bourne End as the series of books set in Peterswood developed. That is, as the series went on, so she focused on different parts of the Bourne End she knew and loved. Sometimes she simplified the geography so as not to bog down her narrative with description. Sometimes, for story purposes, she let that mental map morph into something a bit more… well, fictional. But I believe she was essentially faithful to her actual environment. Just as the painter Stanley Spencer who lived in Cookham, immediately the other side of the river, was faithful to his beloved village in such visionary paintings as Resurrection at Cookham, The Last Supper and Christ Walking into Jerusalem. Funny to think of Jesus living and dying on one side of the river (in the imagination of Stanley Spencer) and Fatty going about his Find-Outing business on the other (courtesy of the much crucified Enid Blyton). But I must leave my interest in Stanley Spencer’s ouevre for another day.

I’m doing this Blyton work now for at least two reasons. First, in 2008 I made a mistake about where Find-Outers’ Larry and Daisy lived and that threw the investigation off the rails. Second, I’ve got a new computer that can take me places I couldn’t go in 2008. It’s a bit like having a Wishing Chair in the shed at the bottom of the garden. Watch:

Wishing Chair, take me to Peterswood.

No, scrap that and try this:

Wishing Chair, it’s 1943, take Enid from where she’d lived since 1938 in Green Hedges, Beaconsfield, to where she’d lived from 1929 to 1938 in Old Thatch, Bourne End, with her husband, Hugh Pollock, and their two little girls. Bear in mind that she loved Bourne End, where she used to go in and out of other people’s houses for bridge and dinner parties, and where she used to go walking - up and down the lanes, over fields and along the river - with Gillian in particular. Bear in mind also that she was furious with Hugh for wrecking the idyllic family life they had together at Old Thatch.


The green house with a flag marks Enid’s starting point, Green Hedges. The Wishing Chair flies south and west over the M40 (which wasn’t there in 1943) and as far as the loop on the River Thames (which was there). The Chair then descends into the grounds of the yellow house, symbol for Old Thatch, on the edge of Bourne End, having covered a distance of about three miles.

Screen shot 2012-07-16 at 12.16.12

Are you with me? I mean, are you with Enid? If so, then hopefully you will stay tuned for the next 15 pages. (15? Blimey, am I going to do them all?)


The above was written in 2012.

In January, 2021, I received this email:

Dear Mr McLaren,

When my daughters were young (in the 1980’s) I used to read to them every night. Some of the books we read were Enid Blyton’s Five Find-Outers’ stories. I wasn’t aware, at the time, that there was a whole series of chronological episodes and I can’t remember just how many of the books we did read.

My wife, having been a Brownie Leader, has had much experience with jumble sales, and, in the years since the 1980’s, had managed to acquire the complete series. Late last year my granddaughter Megan (who is nine years old) learnt about the books and decided she would like to read them, which she did (in order).

At the start of our second covid lockdown in November, my daughter, son-in-law and Megan were stood under the porch outside our back door (social distancing) and I asked Megan how she was getting on with the books. It was my son-in-law who then casually mentioned that Peterswood was based on Bourne End. I never knew.

The significance of that information was greater than you might think because one of my other daughters lives in Wooburn Green. She has three children who go to (or, in my oldest grandchild’s case, used to go to) St Paul’s School, next to the Soho Mill industrial site. I have walked many times, taking my grandchildren to or from school, along the disused railway line at the back of the school, also including Easter holiday walks in the lovely Chiltern hills or down through Bourne End, over the railway bridge and along the Thames path. I can still remember my delight at spotting the River Wye where it enters the Thames a little way down from the railway bridge (the lovely River Wye runs along the road in front of the school).

Based on the enjoyment I have had in walking with my grandchildren, this new information from my son-in-law about Peterswood/Bourne End inspired me to wonder whether I could walk with them ‘through Peterswood’. So I looked up Enid Blyton on the internet. Guess what I found. An amazing website all about the Five Find-Outers which included some inspired research into the geography of Peterswood.

I phoned Megan and asked her if she would like to go for a walk through ‘Peterswood’ and I would show her where the Find-Outers all lived and where the Burnt Cottage was etc. Megan, in the true spirit of the Find-Outers said, ‘Yes grandad, I would like to do that. I do hope the cake shop still has those lovely macaroons’. Fatty would be proud of her!

I am hoping that, by Easter, I will be able to make that walk (I’m 73, so am expecting my vaccination by mid-February). Thank you so much for all the work you have obviously done in putting together your website.

I sometimes write little stories for my grandchildren. While we were in lockdown and waiting for our freedom, I thought I would write a Five Find-Outers story for Megan and surprise her with it at Easter. Based on my walks with my grandchildren I called it ‘The Mystery of the Railway Line Thieves’. It has turned out to be a book. I have attached my page of acknowledgements for your attention.

Best wishes,
Peter Brooks.

To which I replied:

Hi Peter (if I may),

That’s a very satisfying communication, thanks for taking the trouble to write to me.

I’m ten years younger than you. Just today I fully realised that it was red, hardback, Famous Five books from my local library, whereas it was bright, shining, Armada paperbacks of Find-Outer books (that I was given as presents or bought with my birthday and Xmas money) that I read in the 1960s. Meaning, I suppose, that the Famous Five didn’t go into paperback format for another few years. Every generation has its own pattern of actual books handled and engaged with that makes such a strong impression on the developing mind.

Your own story is particularly delightful as it covers three generations (though you don’t actually say you read the Find-Outers in your own childhood). How lucky Megan has been to be introduced to the Find-Outers through your own, and your wife’s and Enid’s best efforts!

I sometimes wonder what will happen to my research and writing in this direction. Hopefully, it will find a print publisher in the next 20 years, though I’m not actively looking for one. The worst scenario would be for the website to be switched off and all the accumulated insight to disappear. Maybe you will find an opportunity to mention this to Megan in a decade or so! Ask her to make sure the material is still available in some form. No, I don’t really mean that, it would be too big a responsibility. Instead go for those enterprising walks you have in mind for Easter. If you are guided to some extent by my website then I will feel privileged. If anything happens that you or Megan think I should know about, please let me know and I will update the relevant essay!

These essays started with the geography several years ago. I’ve been layering them every few years since. And now that I’ve been adding a chapter-by-chapter summary, I’ve come to realise how subjective was my own appreciation, and how much more there was to be got from the books if I gave every word its proper weight. So that’s what I’m aiming for, to give every word due weight. In the last week I have revised the Tally-Ho Cottage and the Vanished Prince essays, so do check those out if you haven’t looked at them for a while.

I too am thinking of writing an original Mystery involving Fatty et al. Maybe I will do that this year. In the meantime, thanks for the acknowledgment of my work and website that you include in the epilogue of The Mystery of the Railway Line Thieves.

Best wishes,

PS the Enid Blyton Society is a good source of Find-Outer Fan Fiction. Several individuals have had a go at writing Mysteries, though I haven’t read any of them myself. Also, the Forums include discussion of the original Enid Blyton Find-Outer books and I post to those Forums whenever I update my site.


In June 2021, this plopped into my Inbox:

Hello Duncan!
We are currently in Peterswood on a trip to trace the footsteps of the FFO. Over the past few days we have been using all the information on your site to visit all the houses and places of interest. It is absolutely fantastic!!
My daughter's favourite character is Ern and we were wondering if you know where he lived?
We are leaving tmrw but she feels her trip will be just perfect to end witha visit to Ern. Maybe we have missed it in your articles but we would love to know if you have any idea?
Thank you so much and for all your amazing work ! It has made our trip here extra special! We drove more than 4 hrs to get here :)

All the best.
Jo and Dee

To which I replied:

Hi Jo and Dee,

That is a good question. Ern comes from outside Peterswood, but it would be good to go through all the mentions of this to see how consistent Enid was about where, and how far away, he lived. It’s possible she was tentative about that on Ern’s first appearance, then it became clearer in her mind. Alas, I can’t do the research for that tomorrow because of other commitments, but will let you know when I have looked into it.

Thanks for getting in touch with your enthusiasm. If you are looking for inspiration for tomorrow, then create a Strange Bundle, run/walk down the road from Larry and Daisy’s place, and chuck it in the river. That should draw the attention of Goon and Fatty if they are still around.

Damn, Ern’s not even in that story!

Best wishes,

Our exchanges went on:

Thank you so so much for the fast reply!!
Yes it would be good to look into Ern a bit more sometime. He has captivated my daughter's imagination and we read his 'portry' all the time!
What a fabulous idea for the strange bundle tomorrow! That would be a wonderful end to our trip and we will definitely do it.
Once again your articles have made our trip so special . The books have helped my little girl through lockdown and she has read each of them 5 or 6 times this past year. We had searched over the past months for info on Peterswood but only came across your articles just as we arrived here so have been poring over them every evening I will continue to do so for a bit longer now to make a plan for our Strange bundle last day tomorrow.
Can't thank you enough for have brought a lot of happiness and squeals of delight for us this past week :)
All the best
Jo and Dee

Dear Jo and Dee,
Having my mid-morning coffee when my thoughts turned to how you two were getting on with your strange bundle in Bourne End. To satisfy my curiosity I’ve written a little scene. Hope you both like it:

Ern and Bets got to the end of the jetty. With one hand on each end of Ern's shoebox, they tossed it into the Thames.

“There she goes,” said Bets.”Splasherama!"

“Shall I compose a pome for the occasion.”

“You must,” urged Bets.

"The Mystery of the Strange Bundle,

Seems not such a mystery now;

We’ve chucked it into the water,

Its silence brings sweat to my brow."

Bets laughed then reassured Ern that his pome was well up to standard. They heard a shout from the riverbank:

“Hey, you two. What on earth have you just done?”

“Hi, Fatty,” said Bets.

“Chucked all the copies of Mystery of the Strange Bundle that we could get our hands on into the river,” said Ern, proudly.

“I have a funny feeling you mean the Armada paperback from my shed,” said Fatty.

“Yip,” Ern confirmed. "We even mean Enid’s own hardback copy from Green Hedges. And of course, Larry and Daisy’s well-read recent paperback from their house.”

"But why, Bets?... Why, Ern?... Book soaking is just as bad as book burning, and book burning is a terrible crime.”

Ern looked out over the glistening, trembling surface of water. “Just the place to bury a crock of gold,” he said. “I should like to bury something precious in every place where I’ve been happy, and then, when I was old and ugly and miserable, I could come back and dig it up and remember.”

“Oh, Ern, you can’t dig through water,” said Fatty

“Maybe not, but we know what Ern means, don’t we Fatty?”

Fatty looked thoughtful for a minute. “Indeed, we do,” he said.

And together the three walked back into the village.


Do let me know how your own strange bundle works out.

All best,

Hello Duncan,
We are in the car on our way back to The Wirral after a fantastic day in Peterswood. My daughter was so excited when I suggested making a bundle to throw in the river and recreating the walk down. She decided it would be made of stones and leaves and sticks making up a secret message! She wrote and drew in pen on the stones and sticks making up a message to read when all pieced together-
'River path 7pm with Mr Goon'
and she drew a little picture of Goon!
We then wrapped the items in a huge leaf and tied it with long grass.
We headed to Larry and Daisy's house but spent more than half an hour trying to find a place to park! it was so busy. Eventually we were lucky to get a spot almost outside their house.We walked down to the river in the hot sun and after a little walk around to investigate, threw in the bundle.


On the way back, as we were about to turn the corner into New Street we came across a bright blue beaded tassel lying on the ground. It looked as if it could have come from a Moroccan outfit - we decided it must have come from the outfits the FFO dressed up in in The Mystery of the Vanished Prince!
As we drove up Blind Lane and away from Peterswood there were lots of tears! I opened my e mail as we drove and we were so happy to see a message from you. Your little story absolutely made our day and it gave a fitting end to our trip.
It stopped the tears and brought smiles - thank you so much!
We hope to return again one day, and meanwhile we will keep reading your updates and look forward to more discoveries! We will also continue the search for Ern's house - coo lovaduck!
All the best and many thanks for making our trip special!
Jo and Dee :