If you’ve ever visited Torquay on the English Riviera you’ll agree that being able to call this palm-lined town home is pretty special for anyone, but if you’re an Agatha Christie fan it’s fantastic.Torquay’s been well documented as Dame Agatha’s birthplace, but I love the fact that it had a place in her heart long after she’d moved away…and her rural retreat, Greenway House, is just down the road in the village of Galmpton.
It’s easy to see why Agatha snagged herself a leafy country house far from the eyes of the world, and she must have loved the fact that it was so close to Torquay that she could still feel like she was at home. Now owned by the National Trust, Greenway welcomes fans to step inside for a glimpse into the life of the woman behind the novels, and it’s just one of those places that make you feel like picking a book, curling up in a corner and just staying.
Even if, like me, you live nearby and you’ve been dozens of times, there’s always something about this time of year that pulls you back to Greenway, and the leafy grounds that roll down to the shore of the river Dart are just starting to blaze with the colours of autumn. It’s easy to imagine Agatha wandering the pathways that lead down to the river, and much of the house is just as she left it.
The writer’s clothes hang in the wardrobe, the treasures collected on archaeological expeditions with her husband Max are dotted throughout the house, and the piano that once entertained the family sits, waiting for guests (usually my stepdad in our case) to sit down and have a tinkle.
It’s not all about Greenway though, if you head back to Torquay itself you’ll find little reminders of the town’s most famous daughter where you least expect them. The Agatha Christie Mile makes it easy for visiting fans to make like sleuths and spot the landmarks that shaped the life of the world’s most successful crime writer.
The Princess Pier once served as a rollerskating rink for a young Agatha and her friends, and if you make your way from there to the Torquay Museum you’ll see pictures of said skating sessions in the dedicated Agatha Christie Gallery. The Royal Torbay Yacht Club, which was once a favourite haunt of Agatha’s father, still stands, and if you wander along to Beacon Cove you can see the little beach where Agatha once got into difficulty at sea and was rescued from drowning.
If you venture a little further afield you can take in some of the sights that made it into the novels (usually under different names of course), but I love the little Agatha anecdotes that bring her personality to life throughout Torquay, even 40 years after her death. If you’re visiting Torbay this autumn, Greenway House is open every day until the 30th October.