Agatha Christie at Home and at Hotels

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.

Greenway Library – my favourite room (Photo from Agatha Christie at Home by Hilary Macaskill)

[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.

Moorlands Hotel

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.

And finally, what do Agatha Christie, The Duke and Duchess of Windsor and Edith Wharton (all featured in these pages) have in common? Answer : they all had doggie cemeteries for their own pets.

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19 comments on “Agatha Christie at Home and at Hotels

  1. Sarah Wrightson says:

    Wonderful photographs Milady, thank you. I’ve not read an AC is ages and must now.

    • Barbara says:

      Thank YOU, Sarah. One now and again is OK for me – as much for a dip into the era we love to read as for the mystery!

  2. Love it! Friends sent me a book about Greenway for Christmas and I’ve been longing to go see it for myself. But seeing Greenway through your eyes is fun, too.

  3. I’m hoping to visit Greenway on a future visit to my elder daughter. I didn’t remember the Agatha Christie connection with Devon until we went to Bigbury Beach and saw Burgh Island and it’s art deco hotel, where Christie stayed on occasions, as did the Prince of Wales and Wallis Simpson, and Noel Coward – it was very exclusive!

    Christie set two books on the island, and a TV version of one, starring Hercule Poirot, was filmed there. Burgh Island is on the beach, only a short distance from the shore, and you can walk across, but it’s tidal and, sadly, the tide was coming in, so we didn’t go because we were worried about getting stranded – this is what comes of not planning a visit properly before you set out!

    • Barbara says:

      Thank you for this comment, Christine. I know Burgh Island from a visit to Bigbury years ago – long before digital photography and this blog. It’s nice to have your additional information here.

  4. Nilly says:

    We had great fun in the ’70s when the film of Agatha was made in Harrogate – we watched Dustin Hoffman etc. performing in various locations around the Old Swan. Ken Russell’s then wife Shirley was the costume designer & admired my little boy’s sweater (made by me) – a great honour!

    • Barbara says:

      Nice memories! I thought I had seen the film but I think I’ll see if I can get hold of a copy to watch again. Bet it was a lovely sweater – well done!

  5. Mike says:

    An interesting post as usual. AC also lived in the Isokon building in Hampstead. I know you visit thatart of London regularly.

    • Thank you, Mike. Yes, I believe you mentioned this in a recent post of your own. I noted the flats which are indeed in an area that I frequent and I have seen them before on a London Walks Tour a few years ago.

  6. ms6282 says:

    Another good post, as usual. AC also lived in the Isokon Building in Lawn Road in Hampstead. I know that you regularly visit that part of London.

    • Thank you – “one-and-the-same-as-above” – I didn’t register the AC link at the time so I must take a little wander on one of my future visits to Belsize Park. Nice to have it here for the record. I’ve now added a search box – which I (if no-one else) find quite handy!

  7. Another house for the list me thinks.

  8. I loved Greenway, we went a few weeks after the opening, I am thinking they may have added more by now, but everything so atmospheric and would love to approach it by river. The views from the bedroom windows looking dwon on it are stunning.

    • Well I think it is definitely worth a revisit – even if it’s exactly the same as the first time. The river approach is one to consider. Generally all the River Dart views are spectacular – from Greenways and from everywhere else.

  9. [...] in the sky. The Shuttleworths were no different from the Windsors, from Edith Wharton or from Agatha Christie. They also  had a great love and respect for their four-legged friends and in the Swiss Garden are [...]

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