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.

Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams' “Happy” was the most searched-for song lyric of 2014
musicThe power of song never greater, according to our internet searches
News
i100
Sport
Tim Sherwood raises his hand after the 1-0 victory over Stoke
footballFormer Tottenham boss leads list of candidates to replace Neil Warnock
Arts and Entertainment
L to R: Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evans) & Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in Avengers Assemble
film
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Roffey says: 'All of us carry shame and taboo around about our sexuality. But I was determined not to let shame stop me writing my memoir.'
books
News
i100
News
Caplan says of Jacobs: 'She is a very collaborative director, and gives actors a lot of freedom. She makes things happen.'
people
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: Personal Trainer / PT - OTE £30,000 Uncapped

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

    The West needs more than a White Knight

    Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
    Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

    'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

    Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
    The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

    The stories that defined 2014

    From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
    Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

    Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

    Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
    Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

    Finally, a diet that works

    Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
    Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

    Say it with... lyrics

    The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
    Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

    The joys of 'thinkering'

    Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
    Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

    Monique Roffey interview

    The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
    Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

    Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

    Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
    DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

    Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

    It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
    Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

    How we met

    Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

    Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

    Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
    Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

    Who does your club need in the transfer window?

    Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
    The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015