Famous – and much loved – mystery author Agatha Christie is not well known as a woman who stayed in one place. Indeed, out of all authors, it is Christie whose fans may struggle to pinpoint the best place to visit to celebrate the writer – with choices ranging from Bagdad to London.
The answer, as far as we are concerned, is the English Rivera of South Devon. It is here that Christie was born in 1890, where she spent her honeymoon and where she bought Greenway – a stately holiday home on the banks of the Dart.
Agatha Christie was born in Torquay and spent her childhood living in Ashfield – a Victorian mansion house. While Ashfield was demolished in the 60s a blue plaque on Barton Road commemorates the site for any discerning fans to visit. It is said that Ashfield was the inspiration for “The Laurels” property in her final novel, The Postern of Fate.
The rest of Torquay is full of sights and places that acted as a backdrop for Christie’s youth. Princess pier, now overlooking Torquay marina, was once a venue for Agatha to roller-skate and take in the sea view. The nearby Princess gardens featured in the novel The ABC Murders, while the Grand Hotel – found on the other side of the small bay – was where Christie spent her honeymoon with her first husband in 1914.
There are countless spots in Torquay where an avid fan of Christie’s works can soak in the author’s past, but perhaps the most intriguing offering resides further south in the Greenway area.
Less than two miles walk from Galmpton Touring Park is Greenway House. Christie and her second husband, Max Mallowan, purchased this Georgian stately home in 1938 to be their holiday property on the banks of the Dart. The family spent many springs, summers and Christmases at Greenway but it was never a place for writing – instead, it was a place where Christie went to relax after a novel had been completed.
The site was an inspiration for locations in three of Christie’s books, including Dead Man’s Folly, which is why the house itself was used as a filming location for the ITV adaptation of the same story.
Greenway House is currently owned by the National Trust and the house and gardens are open to visitors. Inside you will find examples of Christie’s extensive collections from around the world, as well as items that were taken from her childhood home of Ashfield prior to its demolition. The house stands as if the family are just in the next room – with dominoes and cards sitting in front of the fire and Christie’s own Steinway piano taking pride of place in the living room. Greenway is an essential visit for any Agatha Christie fan.
It’s not all about places to visit, however; the International Agatha Christie Festival takes place every other year in Torbay – with talks, adaptations, tours and a myriad of other Agatha Christie-themed events on offer. Even in years where the festival isn’t held, the organisers put on a one-day event to celebrate the author’s birthday on September 15th. To learn more about upcoming events visit the International Agatha Christie Festival website.
Just minutes from Greenway House and with a central location in South Devon, Galmpton Touring Park makes for the perfect accommodation for those looking to explore the history of this cultural icon. To learn more and to book your next adventure, visit the Galmpton Touring Park website.