I had always wanted to visit Greenway, the picturesque summer house of Agatha Christie in Devon. On a recent weekend away in the lovely Dartmouth, I was lucky enough to fulfill that wish.
My obsession with Agatha Christie really started in the 1980’s with the BBC TV adaptation of the Miss Marple books, with the fabulous Joan Hickson. I absolutely loved them! Loved the nostalgic era, the clothes, locations etc. My favourite adaptation was and still is Sleeping Murder, set in Dilmouth which is of course Sidmouth. I’ve been to Sidmouth so many times and actually found the location of Guy and Gwendas house which was situated in nearby Budleigh Salterton. So being just a slightly obsessive, I couldn’t wait to visit the house where Agatha Christie spent her summers and even reputedly used as a location for “Dead Man’s Folly” and “Five Little Pigs”.
Greenway did not disappoint. Agatha Christie acquired the house in 1938 for a total of £6,000. £41,426 in today’s money. Built as a Tudor mansion in the 16th century, the house passed through several owners before Agatha Christie bought Greenway. Indeed it was requisitioned during the second world war by the War Department. Today Greenway is in the hands of the National Trust, who were gifted the house in 2000.
Although due to COVID restrictions it wasn’t possible to visit the house, the garden was a still a joy to walk around, even in the rain! The place has a romantic woodland feeling about it. From the superb views down to the Dart estuary to the walled gardens and the Peach House and Vinery. Especially the Boathouse with its historic plunge pool, where Agatha hosted parties.
You could just imagine the family and summer visitors playing tennis on the court and having fun on the famous Clock Golf Lawn and croquet court. Greenway was in its heyday in the 1950’s.
As a gardener, I admired the exotic planting. In particular the Chinese rice-paper plant and the echiums. There was definitely a sub-tropical feel to the gardens. Beautiful magnolias, rhododendrons and camellias all thriving in the acid soil.
I would love to come back to Greenway in the near future, when I can visit the house and perhaps see the dahlia border and once again lose myself in the nostalgia of a time long since passed.