It was great news when The National Trust announced in 2000 that they had received the gift of Greenway to add to their inventory, although the house did not open to the public until 2009. Being a regular visitor to Devon I made particular point of arranging a visit to Greenways on 22nd August that year. I’d seen the house, perched above the River Dart, several times from river excursion boats and apparently travelling by river boat (The Green Way) is the best way to approach it.
But I had my elderly mother in tow so we booked a car parking space and a table in the restaurant (converted from Agatha’s own kitchen). The gardens are beautiful and varied and paths lead up above the house to the kitchen garden and down to the River Dart and the Greenway Boat House.
Greenway Boat House from the River Dart: featured in Agatha Christie’s ‘Dead Man’s Folly’.
The Greenway Boat House (above and below)
Agatha Christie used the boathouse as the location for the fictional murder of Marlene Tucker in ‘Dead Man’s Folly’
We made a tour of the house with an introduction by a room steward and were then left to our own devices. I don’t have any interior photos so we were probably asked not to take any. My question to the guide was “Which books did Agatha actually write here?”. The answer was “None”. She used the house as a summer retreat and invited guests of friends and family to join her. Here she would read her latest manuscript to these guests in the evenings before publication in the following autumn. However, one book was written based entirely around the Greenway location : “Dead Man’s Folly“. I read loads of Christie novels in my late teens but have never gone back to them since. With the exception of DMF which I bought secondhand the day after visiting the house and read straightaway. All the locations came back to me with immediate clarity. The boat house featured as the location where the murder took place.
[The frieze was painted by Lieutenant Marshall Lee when he was stationed at Greenway by the US Navy. The house had been requisitioned by the Admiralty during the Second World War.]
After our house tour we used the servants’ entrance to the dining room where only 3 or 4 tables were set for lunch. We enjoyed our meal surrounded by Agatha Christie’s cookery books and kitchen equipment.
Interestingly, I have come across two hotels with Agatha Christie connections within just a couple of weeks. The first is Moorlands near Haytor just on the edge of Dartmoor. Whilst staying here Agatha Christie was inspired to write her first book, The Mysterious Affair at Styles.
Moorlands is now a hotel belonging to the HF Holidays organization and it was just steps away from our cottage on Dartmoor in October. There’s a lovely cafe (with wifi) – Dandelions – which is open to non-residents. I already knew about the Christie connection and asked to see the picture.
Agatha Christie Portrait and Complete Works
Then this weekend I visited a friend who was staying at The Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate. This was the hotel where AC was found 10 days after she mysteriously disappeared following her husband’s revelation that he was leaving her for another woman.