Agatha Christie’s Riviera
The Agatha Christie Birthday Celebrations take place in Torquay on Thursday 15th September, and it’s the perfect moment to plan a long weekend on Devon’s English Riviera.
Follow in her footsteps
Perhaps you know that Agatha Christie was born in Torquay in 1890 as Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller, and that she lived at Ashfield, a large Victorian mansion in the district of Torre. But did you know that she would roller-skate along Princess Pier, and bathe at Meadfoot Beach and the ladies-only Beacon Cove?
The young Agatha led an elegant English Riviera lifestyle of dinners, concerts and outings, and 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), and she enjoyed many concerts at Torquay’s Pavilion (currently under development). It was after a Wagner concert at the Pavilion that Agatha received a proposal of marriage from Archibald Christie, who she had met three months previously at a dance near Exeter. Two years later they were married, 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 that were so important to her.
There are also many literary connections in Torquay and the wider South Devon, perfect to explore on a short break. Take a look at the Agatha Christie Literary Trail, which shows all the sites that provided the Queen of Crime with inspiration for her stories.
Finally, no trip to Agatha Christie’s Riviera would be complete without a visit to Greenway. In 1938, Agatha bought the Greenway Estate near Brixham with her second husband Max Mallowan as a holiday home, and spent many happy times there with her family. The property, owned by the National Trust, shows what life would have been like for the family in the 1950s, including the house guest book which features, among others, Noel Coward’s signature.
To find out more about Agatha Christie’s Riviera visit the official microsite here.