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Tintin, the bequiffed boy wonder reporter, finally made his 3D debut in Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn last year.

The movie is based on three conflated comic books (The Crab with the Golden Claws, The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham’s Treasure) that were created by the Belgian cartoonist Georges Remi, popularly known as Hergé, in the 1940s.

The house where Tintin and his friend Captain Haddock (of “millions of blue blistering barnacles!” fame) live is called Marlinspike Hall and it plays a pivotal role in the movie and comics. The Captain’s ancestral home, it is named after a marlinspike, a pointed metal tool used to separate strands of rope onboard ships.

In Red Rackham’s Treasure, the absent-minded Professor Cuthbert, a mutual friend of Tintin and Captain Haddock, buys Marlinspike Hall because Haddock cannot afford to reclaim it. The Professor’s laboratory is also located in this sprawling manor, as are several ornate parlours, bedrooms and a gallery, which are all kept spic and span by Nestor, the butler.

Although many of Tintin’s adventures take place outside Marlinspike Hall, in one comic book, The Castafiore Emerald, the manor and its gardens are featured throughout, along with the shrieking opera singer, Bianca Castafiore who shrills, “Aah, my jewels…” at every possible moment.

Hergé based Marlinspike Hall on the Château de Cheverny inFrance. The land for the Château was bought by Henri Hurault, the Count of Cheverny who was also a lieutenant-general and military treasurer to King Louis XI. Henri’s son, Philippe, eventually built the house in the 1600s.

The Château is still owned by the Hurault family and serves as a museum, which is a major tourist attraction featuring a magnificent collection of furniture, tapestries, and objets d’art. It also houses a permanent exhibition, The Secrets of Marlinspike Hall, which includes posters and sketches of Tintin by Hergé.

– Mamun M Adil

First published on January 1, 2011 in the Adbuzzzz Section of the DAWN National Advertiser.