AGATHA CHRISTIE THEMED ATTRACTIONS IN DEVON
Crime writing phenomenon Agatha Christie was born in the Torre area of Torquay in Devon, South
West England in 1890. A holiday to South Devon provides an excellent opportunity to see a wide
range of Christie-related attractions, information on the best of which can be found here.
GREENWAY HOUSE, GALMPTON – CHRISTIE’S SUMMER HOME
In 2009, the National Trust was finally able to open Greenway House, on the banks of the River Dart
near Torbay, nine years after the property was donated to the Trust by Rosalind and Anthony Hicks,
Agatha Christie’s daughter and son-in-law.
The world-famous crime author purchased Greenway in 1938, after having admired the property for
many years on her boat trips down the Dart. After a period during the war where the property was
requisitioned, Christie duly returned to Greenway every summer.
Walking round Greenway you can almost imagine that the family are still in residence. Letters
addressed to Mrs Hicks still adorn one of the first rooms you pass through, and many of the rooms
contain a book of stories and photographs of Christie’s life. Many of the usual rules of Trust
properties do not apply here – you can touch many of the objects and even play the grand piano!
Lunch in the house kitchen can also be booked.
The house also boasts an excellent garden, and a veritable maze of steep paths through the woods.
Christie addicts will want to check out the thatched boathouse, where the body was discovered in
Dead Man’s Folly, a 1956 Hercule Poirot novel in which Christie re-named Greenway as Nasse House
and the Dart as the Helm.
A word of warning – this is a small house by National Trust standards and the Queen of Crime is very
popular. Weekends and peak holiday season are best avoided.
Greenway has a very small car park, and parking spaces must be booked. Reduced admission is
granted to visitors arriving by ‘green ways’, and options here include boat trips from Torquay,
Brixham, Totnes or across the river from Dittisham; as well as the Agatha Christie Bus Tour from
Torquay or Paignton, where you can travel on a genuine 1940s bus that would look totally at home
in a Christie television adaptation.
AGATHA CHRISTIE GALLERY, TORQUAY MUSEUM
Torquay pays homage to its most famous author with a generously sized permanent exhibition at
the town’s museum. Much of the gallery concentrates on Christie’s life rather than her writing, but
tourists will welcome the map which shows the Devon locations used in her books.
There is also a large display of book covers, although confusingly many of these use the US titles of
her works; plus examples of costumes worn by Joan Hickson and David Suchet, undoubtedly the
definitive actors to have played Miss Marple and Poirot respectively.
Christie also gets a small mention in the archaeology section of the museum upstairs. Christie took
an active part in many expeditions conducted by her second husband, the well-known archaeologist
Sir Max Mallowan.
Downstairs in the museum shop, around 50% of the room is filled with books by or about Christie.
Have a good look at the cartoon strip adaptations of some her best known works.
The Museum is one of the stops on the Agatha Christie Mile, a series of locations around Torquay
connected with the ‘Queen of Crime’. The trail starts at the Grand Hotel, scene of her short
honeymoon after marrying Archibald Christie in 1914; and ends at the Imperial Hotel; which features
as the Majestic in the Poirot novel Peril at End House and under its own name in the Marple mystery
Sleeping Murder. On the way the route calls at Torre Abbey, with its Christie-inspired garden of
poisonous plants; and Christie’s bust in the town centre. This route is well worth following – obtain a
leaflet from Torquay’s Tourist Information – in spite of the poor directions and confusing map.
BURGH ISLAND, OFF BIGBURY-ON-SEA
Christie used Burgh Island, off the South Devon coast, as the location for two of her very best and
most celebrated novels. Christie was a regular visitor to dances and functions held at the island
hotel, and very soon after her first visit the island became the setting for the novel which is now
known as And Then There Were None, for fear of causing offence with the original title. Then the
island was dubbed Smugglers’ Island, and the hotel re-named the Jolly Roger, in Evil Under The Sun.
The Art Deco hotel has now been renovated to look exactly like it would have in the 1930s. Trying to
use your mobile here is a fruitless task, instead you can make use of the rotary dial telephones in the
rooms. A night here will set you back £300 for a single room and around £400 for a double, but
included in the package is some of the best hotel food you will find anywhere, and a unique
experience. Meals are taken in the Ballroom, where you can expect a live jazz band on a Wednesday
or Saturday night. Black tie dress is expected on these nights, on other evenings the majority of
guests will also wear black tie, so there is never any need to worry about being over-dressed at
The hotel is well known for its sea tractor which conveys guests across the Bigbury-on-Sea beach at
high tide, when the hotel is cut off from the mainland. It is still possible to visit the island if you are
not staying at the hotel, however the hotel owners have fenced off large parts of the island to all but
their guests, and non-residents are also restricted to one room in the Pilchard Inn, the island’s pub.
This has not made them popular with the locals!
OTHER CHRISTIE-THEMED ATTRACTIONS IN DEVON
Churston Railway Station – now a station on the Paignton & Dartmouth Steam Railway, Churston
station featured under its own name in The ABC Murders, and as Nassecombe in Dead Man’s Folly.
Elberry Cove – situated near Churston, a field near to the cliff top was the scene of a murder in The
Kents Cavern – the prehistoric caves near Torquay featured as Hempsley Cavern in the 1924 novel
The Man In The Brown Suit