Red Rackham's Treasure, The Secret of the Unicorn, Tintin's Friends

Where is Marlinspike Hall?

Marlinspike is Tintin’s spiritual home and the very real home to Captain Haddock and Professor Calculus. It was purchased by Professor Calculus for the Captain at the end of their treasure hunting trip in The Secret of the Unicorn / Red Rackam’s Treasure and became the starting point for many of their later adventures.

Will the Real Markinspike Please Stand Up

Herge very rarely invented anything from scratch. When drawing a boat or a plane or a gun he preferred to start with an object and then simplify it. See the Junkers JU 52 in The Broken Ear or the Mayan pyramid in San Theodoros for two of the many examples of this approach. When drawing Marlinspike (Moulinsart in the original French) he copied a French chateau and simplified it.

Below is Château de Cheverny, the inspiration of Marlinspike. Compare it to the image from Red Rackham’s Treasure and it is clear that Marlingspike is Cheverny with the two outermost wings cut off.

Chateau De Cheverny Marlinspike Moulinsart
Marlinspike

Pinning It Down

But where did Herge imagine Marlinspike was physically? Frustratingly, Herge sometimes placed Tintin in very real and identifiable places (even giving map coordinates on one occasion) and at other times, he was incredibly vague to even which country Tintin was in.

What we can workout from the books is that Marlinspike was in Begium. Traffic drives on the right-hand side of the road and the police wear uniforms very similar to the Belgium police. The estate clearly has a lot of land and is surrounded by countryside so it is outside of any city. We know that Tintin lives in Brussels and he travels to Captatin Haddock’s house via motorcycle (Tintin and the Picaros) and via Marlinspike train station (The Seven Crystal Balls). As Tintin never has any luggage with him it safe to assume that Marlinspike is not far outside of Brussels.

The Final Clue

Marlinspike original French name was Moulinsart. According to Tintin and the world of Herge, this is a reversal of Sarmoulin. A small country town in Belgium. Unfortunately it is so small even Google cannot find it. There is no entry for it on Wikipedia either. Is it real but very, very, small or is the existence of Sarmoulin one of Herge’s jokes?

7 Comments

  1. Pe-ads

    I thought Tintin lived at Marlinspike? In some of the books (I think the Calculus Affair is one), he is shown eating breakfast, wearing pyjamas, etc. I though he moved out along with Captain Haddock to live in Marlinspike in Red Rhackam’s treasure.

    Pe-ads

  2. admin

    I thought Tintin lived at Marlinspike until I started to check.

    At the start of The Seven Crystal Balls, Tintin rings Marlinspike’s door bell and asks Nestor if the Captain is in. This is not the sort of thing you do if you live there.

    At the start of Tintin and the Picaros, Tintin arrives at Marlinspike and Captain Haddock tells Tintin to “Come on in” which would be strange if he already lived there.

    It is clear that Tintin spends a lot of time at Marlinspike and we never see Tintin’s flat after Marlinspike is purchased but he doesn’t seem to live there.

    Chris

  3. KP

    Tintin doesn’t strictly live at Marlinspike, for most adventures his address is 26 Labrador road, and in King Ottokar’s sceptre, as well Red Rackham’s treasure, he can be seen hosting visitors at his flat. Also in The Shooting Star Tintin goes home to his flat and looks out the window to see the meteorite approaching. The Castafiore Emerald, which is near the end of the series, also has Tintin as a visitor who is out walking with Captain Haddock in the fields when they come across the group of Romany gypsies. He probably just spends some time there occassionally, as opposed to Calculus, who definitely lives at Marlinspike.

  4. Alex

    Curiously, in the film version, the coordinates of Marlinspike on the three scrolls that line up in the morning sun appears to be: 50°37′42″ N 4°52′15″ E. This is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, the coordinates are eerily similar to the original (non-corrected) coordinates in the comic (20°37′42″ N 70°52′15″ W). Second, the film coordinates point to an actual property in Belgium. Third, the main structure (barn?) has a large cross on the wall. Coincidence? You be the judge:

    https://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=50.628333,4.870833&ie=UTF8&view=map

    Pull the street view icon to the Chaussée de Namur to get a view of the cross on the building that the green arrow points to.

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