Agatha Christie’s Devon
Welcome to Devon and The English Riviera – the home of one of the world’s best loved authors, crime fiction writer Dame Agatha Christie.
The young Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller lived at Ashfield, a large Victorian mansion in the district of Torre, and led an elegant English Riviera lifestyle of society parties, dinners, concerts and outings.
She gathered ideas that were to come to life in her best selling books with immortal characters such as Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot.
Agatha would visit the houses of eminent families in the area, taking part in family theatre productions with the Mallocks at Cockington Court and no doubt moving in the same social circle as the Carys of Torre Abbey. She attended numerous balls at Oldway Mansion in Paignton, and at the Imperial Hotel in Torquay, which featured in three of her novels – Peril at End House, The Body in the Library and Sleeping Murder – and she enjoyed many concerts at Torquay’s Pavilion.
It was after one such concert that Agatha received her second proposal of marriage (the first being from Reggie Lucy whilst walking on Torquay Golf Course) from young subaltern Archibald Christie, who she had met three months previously at a dance at Ugbrooke House near Exeter. She rejected him initially, given that she still had an ‘understanding’ with Lucy – two years later she married Christie, on Christmas Eve 1914.
The Grand Hotel on Torquay’s seafront was the venue for their honeymoon, and today forms the start of the Agatha Christie Mile, which takes in many of the landmarks pertaining to the author’s past and can be walked with the aid of a leaflet.
Download Agatha Christie Mile leaflet (PDF 400KB) HERE
Agatha Christie & her family home at Greenway
In 1938, Agatha Christie bought the Greenway Estate near Brixham with her second husband, Max Mallowan. She led an active life in the nearby community, becoming a governor at the school in the village of Galmpton, and frequently dining with Lord and Lady Churston at their manor house in Churston village. With the proceeds of one of her books she donated a stained glass window to Churston Church.
Agatha Christie’s writing was often inspired by the Devon towns and countryside of her home, along the coast from the English Riviera to Dartmouth and Salcombe, taking in the beautiful setting of Burgh Island for the novels And Then There Were None and Evil Under the Sun, to the Moorland Hotel at Haytor on Dartmoor, which provided the final push she needed to finish her first book The Mysterious Affair at Styles.
For the Agatha Christie fan, a visit to Devon will enthrall and delight. Her presence is felt strongly in this pretty corner of England, not just in the places made familiar in her books, but also in those places where the life of the lady herself was equally remarkable.
Today, Agatha Christie is internationally famous as the most prolific mystery writer of all time with 79 crime novels and many plays to her name.
We invite you to follow in the footsteps of Agatha Christie and discover the English Riviera that she knew and loved so dearly. Many of the associated places have retained their 1920′s character.
In the centre of Torquay is the Agatha Christie Mile where each location associated with Agatha Christie is marked with a unique plaque.
LINK: Agatha Christie Mile