Thursday, 19 September 2013

Greenway - Agatha Christie's Devon home

Back in May I visited Agatha Christie's Devon holiday home which is now managed by the National Trust. Although Agatha lived in Torquay, her relaxing summer house is based just along the coastline and up the River Dart in a remote setting. There are several ways to arrive, from walking or catching a steam train or vintage bus. We chose a beautiful 20 minute boat ride on the Christie Belle from Dartmouth which rewards you with a glimpse of the stunning house on the high up on the hill-top. There is a very small car park for visitors unable to climb the steep hill to the house, although this must be booked in advance.
The vintage bus

Greenway was bought by Agatha Christie for £6,000 which also included 30 acres of land. The house is one the most welcoming National Trust properties I have visited as visitors are invited to explore, opening drawers and relaxing on sofas to read about the house and its most famous inhabitant. There are plenty of ‘scrapbooks’ around, full of newspaper clippings, letters, excerpts from books, quotes and photos. The first room we enter is the drawing room which features a beautiful piano. We learn that Agatha loved music and in a confessional said that she would have loved to have been an Opera singer.

The house features many of Agatha’s collections, from china and fans to books and ornaments. There are cupboards lit up with her possessions and a closet in her bedroom is full of ‘dress-up’ clothes for games and parties. It is clear that Greenway was a house for relaxing and entertaining. The dining room was used extensively for family meals and events and a menu for her 80th birthday celebrations is displayed here.
The boathouse in the grounds which
inspired the murder in Dead Man's Folly

Agatha used the cost of things that she desired as a motivation for writing. Although Agatha did not write any of her books at Greenway, she made revisions and read her latest stories aloud to her family during the evenings. Greenway inspired the murder in Dead Man’s Folly, which sees the extensive grounds used for a summer fair and a body found in the boathouse.

Books on sale in the gift shop
We enjoyed a slice of cake and some coffee in the tea-rooms based near to the house and I loved the shop which stocked an array of Christie books and memorabilia. I purchased a copy of Dead Man’s Folly, which was stamped with the Greenway mark at the till. There are beautiful views over the River Dart on the steep walk down to the battery and boat house. We took our dogs with us for the day who loved the walks around the grounds and the boat rides!

View across the River Dart from the house
Since visiting Greenway, I have been inspired to read more of Agatha Christie’s books and I am really enjoying them. It is pretty much impossible to guess the result of any of the mysteries and the huge casts of eccentric characters are great fun to read about.

Find out more about visiting Greenway at is also a great website for information all about the author and her huge collection of books and plays.

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