Trail of the Unexpected: Agatha Christie's holiday home opens for guests

From today, Agatha Christie's house, Greenway in South Devon, is open to holidaymakers. The writer bought it in 1938, and described it soon after as "the ideal house, a dream house"

As part of a £5.4m restoration, the National Trust has converted part of the writer's holiday home – a cream-coloured Georgian house – into a grand, five-bedroom, three-bathroom apartment. It has a separate entrance and sweeping views across the woodland gardens to the River Dart, and provides the chance for fans to experience the delight Christie felt here.

Greenway, perched on a promontory overlooking the calm green waters of the Dart, was Christie's retreat. She would spend several weeks each summer here, and often visited at Christmas. More recently, Greenway was the home of Christie's daughter Rosalind and son-in-law Anthony. In 2000, Rosalind, Anthony and Rosalind's son Mathew Prichard gave Greenway to the National Trust, and the gardens – acclaimed for their exotic trees and their collections of magnolia and camellia – were opened to the public. Rosalind died in 2004, Anthony a few months later.

The National Trust began the restoration soon after, and has now almost completed the task of recreating Greenway as a holiday home. The process has been helped by Mathew's gift of most of the contents: 5,000 items, and nearly 5,000 books. Greenway was the repository of Christie's life; it was here that she stored editions of every book she wrote.

The clutter that visitors to the house would have experienced in Christie's time has not been reproduced, but an extensive cleaning and conservation project has revealed an extraordinary glimpse into a family of obsessive collectors. Arranged on walls and tables, in cabinets and display cases, are some of the decorative boxes, Meissen china, watches, shell pictures, papier-mâché pots and souvenirs that were collected by different members of the author's family, all vying for space.

However, now that the décor has been returned to the cream colour favoured by Christie herself, the elegant proportions of Greenway are obvious. This is a comfortable family home, with deep armchairs and sofas imported from the writer's childhood home of Ashfield in Torquay.

There will no doubt be afternoon teas in the kitchen and, while perusing the books in the library, visitors may hear the sound of the drawing room Steinway. Agatha toyed in her youth with the idea of becoming a concert pianist and she continued to play the instrument throughout her life. As part of the National Trust vision of a house that is lived in, local volunteers will be allowed to play the piano as well.

The luxurious apartment upstairs is also filled largely with Christie's furniture, ornaments and pictures, though there are some modern additions, including Smeg fridges. The small swimming pool, available to guests, was installed by Rosalind and Anthony in the 1970s. One highlight that would have been unseen by most past visitors to Greenway is a pair of large portraits of Christie's beloved parents when newly married, hanging in one of the bedrooms.

When she bought the house, Christie took particular interest in the plumbing fixtures, saying: "I want a big bath, and I need a ledge because I like to eat apples."

Her own bathroom is off-limits to guests and lies opposite her bedroom, which has been kept as it was when she slept there.

Starting early this summer, when the dining room is rescued from its current status as storeroom, there will be the option of a "fine dining experience", served on Christie's own china.

A simpler option is the Lodge at the drive entrance. This has been restored into a cosy, one-bedroom cottage, with stone-flagged kitchen, wood-burning stove and French windows opening on to a tiny terrace. Best of all is access to the gardens. In the early morning or at twilight it feels like your own personal domain, as you pass under the creeper-covered stone arch, through the Fernery and down twisting paths to the Battery with its two cannons. The Boathouse, with its shrouded boats and plunge pool, was the scene of the murder in Dead Man's Folly, Christie's 1956 novel, whose setting is modelled closely on Greenway (and features the Lodge), but this splendid new holiday accommodation is not for those seeking a murder-mystery weekend.

'Agatha Christie at Home', by Hilary Macaskill, will be published by Frances Lincoln in the autumn

Traveller's Guide

Getting There

Greenway, Galmpton, near Brixham, Devon (01803 842382; nationaltrust.org.uk/ greenway). Open 10.30am-5pm, Wednesday to Sunday. Admission £7.45.

Cars are not admitted to Greenway without prior booking. Visitors arriving by "green transport" – boat, bus, bike, foot – receive discounted entry.

Staying There

Bookings for The Apartment and The Lodge can be made on 0844 8002070 or at www.nationaltrustcottages. co.uk.

Prices for The Apartment range from £792 to £2,719 a week; for The Lodge, £398 to £934. Short breaks are bookable if space is available within three weeks of proposed start date.

Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Restaurant Manager / Sommelier

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Receptionists - Seasonal Placement

    £12500 - £13520 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced Hotel Receptionists...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Receptionists - Poole

    £12500 - £13520 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Recruitment Genius: Lifeguards / Leisure Club Attendants - Seasonal Placement

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Qualified Lifeguards are required to join a fa...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn