My Great Escape: Lovely Greenway
Julie Hall from Gloucestershire went back in time to Agatha Christie’s home in Devon.
While staying at the Grand Hotel in Torquay last year—where Agatha Christie spent part of her honeymoon—I seized the opportunity to visit a place I’d long wanted to see: Christie’s beloved holiday home, Greenway.
It was a train ride to Paignton, then a steam-train ride along the “English Riviera”. Walking slowly up Greenway’s path, my excitement began to build, along with my nerves. Could Greenway really live up to my expectations?
Image via Weary Ploughman
I needn’t have worried: as I turned the corner onto the driveway I stopped at the sight of a dazzlingly white Georgian house, flanked by scarlet azaleas. It’s a sight seen many times during the television adaptations of the Poirot novels, and I wouldn’t have been surprised to see Poirot, Captain Hastings or Ariadne Oliver emerge onto the porch.
Inside, it’s easy to believe that it’s still the 1950s and Agatha is merely on the lawn playing croquet. Everything has been left as it was, with the family’s great collections—artefacts, books, silver photo frames—on view in every room. Agatha had known the house as a child, referring to it as “the loveliest place in the world”.
Image via National Trust
No visit to Greenway would be complete without seeing the famous boathouse—the scene of the crime in her novel Dead Man’s Folly. There’s a palpable feeling of calm mystery oozing out of its brickwork, with views over the River Dart.
Afterwards, I sat on a bench on the porch and drank in the sunshine, the riot of colour in the flower beds and the tantalising glimpses of the river through the trees. I completely understood the hold that Greenway had on its famous owner. Only the thought of the steam-train journey back made it possible to leave.
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