Agatha Christie loved nothing better than escaping with her family to Greenway, their Devon holiday home. Following the launch of an appeal to raise £5.4 million to help pay for major restoration work, the National Trust opened Greenway House to the public in 2009. For the first time, visitors had the opportunity to view the many personal collections and mementoes of our best-loved mystery writer and her family.
Agatha Christie's family gave Greenway to the National Trust in 2000. However, as the retirement home of her daughter and son-in-law, Rosalind and Anthony Hicks, the house remained closed to the public. Visitors have for several years been able to enjoy the beautiful woodland garden, with its romantic pathways that lead down to the Dart estuary. Following the deaths of Rosalind and Anthony, the house passed to the Trust, along with the generous gift from Agatha Christie's grandson, Mathew Prichard, of the majority of the contents.
The major restoration project to the house and construction of new visitor facilities are nearing completion and will then enable the Trust to present Greenway as it was when Agatha Christie described it as "the loveliest place in the world." While this work takes place, the Trust is sharing the process of restoring and caring for the many fascinating items, collected by the family, with visitors who will be able to watch conservation in action.
A visit to Greenway will take visitors, all of whom will be encouraged to arrive by green transport, on a 1950s holiday, painting an intimate portrait of Agatha Christie not only as a writer, but as a mother, wife and hostess. Overlaying her own collections are those of Rosalind and Anthony, who made Greenway their permanent home from the early 1970s.
The vision for Greenway is clear: there will be no gimmicks, no 'Miss Marple Museum' or room stewards dressed as Poirot - this was a much-loved family home. In addition to the rooms open to daily visitors, part of the house will be available as a holiday apartment, continuing Greenway's legacy as a holiday retreat. It will feel as if Agatha Christie and her family have never left.
Masthead Photography: Joan Hickson image © BBC
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