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In the footsteps of… Agatha Christie

Toast the Queen of Crime’s 125th birthday in her beloved Devon

In the footsteps of… Agatha Christie
Garden Suite, Burgh Island Hotel. Image: Getty

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If you were hoping to retrace murder mystery luminary Agatha Christie’s steps, there’s no shortage of overseas options, but the best place to begin your journey is her home county, Devon.

Here you’ll find by far the largest concentration of sites with Christie connections, chief among which is Greenway in Brixham, the holiday home she owned for 20 years. This imposing house with huge woodland gardens is today a National Trust property, where many of the Christie family’s collections are displayed. Best of all, it’s reachable by ferry, a vintage bus or steam train.

Visitors to Greenway looking for the full Christie experience should bed down across the water in Torquay. There, on the esplanade, they’ll find the palatial Grand Hotel, where Christie honeymooned with her first husband, Archie, in 1914, and the Imperial Grand, which appeared under different names in three of her novels. These two hotels feature on the Agatha Christie Mile, a trail of Christie sites that includes the Torquay Museum, which is home to a gallery dedicated to the author.

But of the numerous West Country hotels with Christie connections, perhaps the most evocative is the art deco Burgh Island Hotel (above), the solitary building on an island accessible from the Devon coast only at low tide. Christie stayed here several times and, alive to its menacing potential, made it the creepy setting for her novels And Then There Were None and Evil Under the Sun. Given its isolation, it’s the last place you’d want to find yourself holed up with a murderer.

Where to start: Anniversary celebrations
Each year, Torquay hosts a festival dedicated to its favourite daughter. This year’s event — to be held in Torre Abbey, on the city’s Agatha Christie Mile — will mark the 125th anniversary of her birth with a mix of cocktail parties, creative crime-writing classes, theatre productions and outdoor film screenings. (11–20 September) agathachristiefestival.com

Published in the June 2015 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)