The original French name of the hall, Moulinsart, is derived from Sart-Moulin, a village near Braine-l'Alleud in Walloon Brabant, Belgium. In an allusion to the Haddock family's maritime history, the hall's English name refers to the marlinspike, a tool used in seamanship to splice ropes. The Belgian corporation managing Hergé's work (principally Tintin) is also called Moulinsart S.A.
Marlinspike Hall first appears in The Secret of the Unicorn as the home of the story's villains, the Bird brothers. By the end of the sequel Red Rackham's Treasure, the manor is found to have been built by Haddock's illustrious ancestor Sir Francis Haddock. It is purchased by Professor Calculus on behalf of the Captain, and the fabled treasure itself is found hidden in the manor's old chapel, in the cellars. In the following years, Marlinspike provides a home base for Tintin and Haddock in between their various adventures. In The Castafiore Emerald, virtually all of the action takes place in the Hall, its grounds, or the surrounding countryside.
Marlinspike Hall is presented as a large and luxurious dwelling adorned with numerous works of art, antique furniture, and a gallery of the Haddock family's historic treasures. The grounds comprise a park with extensive woodlands, wide lawns, a rose garden, a high surrounding wall, at least two gates, a neighbouring meadow, and at least one adjacent building (used by Professor Calculus as a laboratory in The Calculus Affair). The size of the house and park would appear to require a number of domestic and gardening staff, but only one—the faithful Nestor, serving as butler to the Hall—is ever seen.[nb 1]
The hall is modelled after the central section of the Château de Cheverny, a manor in France. Hergé purposely left out the wings at the extremity of the original building, saying that it would be one thing for Captain Haddock to inherit a beautiful residence, but quite another thing for him to inherit a stately home.
Marlinspike Hall is located in Belgium. The original English language translators of the Tintin books caused some confusion to English speaking readers by giving the address of Marlinspike Hall as "Marlinshire, England" in The Secret of the Unicorn. However, details such as car number plates, traffic travelling on the right hand side of the road, and the appearance of the Marlinspike police (who wear the black and red uniforms of the Belgian Gendarmerie) confirm that Hergé's intention was to locate the Hall in his native Belgium. Moreover, it is explained in The Red Rackham's Treasure that the Manor was built by an ancestor of Captain Haddock, the Chevalier François de Hadoque, a ship-of-the-line captain in the French Navy under King Louis XIV of France. In the Golden Press editions, the name Marlinspike Hall is Americanized to Hudson Manor, suggesting a location along the Hudson River in the state of New York.
- Although a gardener is mentioned once in the last pages of The Red Sea Sharks.
- Farr, Michael (2011) [First published 2001 by John Murray Publishers Ltd]. Tintin: The Complete Companion. Last Gasp. ISBN 978-0-86719-754-9.
- Lofficier, Jean-Marc; Lofficier, Randy (2007) [First published 2002]. The Pocket Essential Tintin. Harpenden, Hertfordshire: Pocket Essentials. ISBN 978-1-84243-226-6.