Agatha Christie loved nothing better than escaping with her family to Greenway, their Devon holiday home. Not just a beautiful holiday home, (Agatha Christie never lived their full time) it is the literal inspiration for Dead Man's Folly and Five Little Pigs. There is even a boat house such as the one the body of Marlene Tucker was found in!
As a girl, Christie had seen the house from the River Dart, her mother had pointed it out, and she thought it "the most beautiful place in the world". Bought for the sum of £6000 in 1938, Christie employed an architect Guilford Bell to reveal the Georgian symmetry (the ad shows the extensions from 1815 she had removed). The house was requisitioned by the Admiralty in 1942 and occupied by officers from an American flotilla who painted a blue and white frieze aroud the cornices of the library ceiling in memory of their wartime exploits. After the war, Agatha insisted that the frieze be kept (although the additional toilets and basins installed for the officers were removed). Mathew Prichard, her grandson, has fond memories from the 1950s of practising cricket on the lawn and Easter egg hunts set by Christie.
Agatha Christie's family gave Greenway to the National Trust in 2000. Following the launch of an appeal to raise £5.4 million to help pay for major restoration work, the National Trust opened Greenway House to the public in Spring 2009. Visitors now have the opportunity to view the house, wonderful grounds and many personal collections and mementoes that were donated by Mathew Prichard.
A visit to Greenway takes visitors, all of whom are encouraged to arrive by green transport, on a 1950s holiday, painting an intimate portrait of Agatha Christie not only as a writer, but as a mother, wife and hostess. Overlaying her own collections are those of Rosalind and Anthony, who made Greenway their permanent home from the early 1970s.
For those of you who aren't able to visit, we thought we'd show you some photos of the inside of the house.
The Drawing Room is where Agatha Christie spent summer evenings with her family. She would read aloud from her latest novel, to be published in time for the coming Christmas, while the family tried to guess who the murderer was. Invariably her husband Max guessed correctly though few others did! In this photo you can see the piano which Christie played. She was an accomplished pianist, having learnt as a young girl, though she was painfully shy and wouldn't perform in public.
For details of opening times and transport (car parking space is limited and only bookable in advance) please visit the National Trust's Website.
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Masthead Photography: Joan Hickson image © BBC
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