Agatha Christie was born in Torquay in 1890 and was the youngest of three children. Remarkably, she had no formal education yet she wrote more than 80 books, sold over two billion copies and is still the best-selling fiction author of all time, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
Many visitors come to the English Riviera to seek out some of her haunts and discover the settings for some of her thrillers. The Agatha Christie Literary Trail can be requested from any Torbay Visitor Centre which takes fans on an exciting journey around South Devon.
Places with Agatha Christie Connections
As a young lady, Agatha Christie was a friend of the Mallocks who lived at Cockington Court. In fact she dedicated her book Why Didn't They Ask Evans? to Christopher Mallock. She frequently visited the estate and on occasion took part in small plays performed on the lawn. Cockington Court Estate is now open to the public and includes several thatched cottages, the hall, church and large parkland. It is known as “one of the prettiest villages in England”.
The Christie family attended All Saints Church at Torre and her name is recorded as a founder member of the church. She later attended St Mary the Virgin Church at Churston Ferrers and donated a stained glass window. She frequently lunched with Lord and Lady Churston at Churston Manor which is now a bar & restaurant.
She would no doubt have shopped with her mother at the exclusive William and Cox department store on the Strand which is now Hoopers. She bathed at the ladies only Beacon Cove where she once got into difficulty while swimming and had to be rescued. She also attended dances at the Oldway Mansion which was built for the Singer sewing machine family and is now an interesting museum.
In 1913 Agatha Christie attended a Wagnerian concert at the Pavilion which was then a grand Edwardian concert hall where her first husband, Archie Christie, proposed. It now houses boutiques and specialist shops. The Grand Hotel in Torquay was where Agatha Christie spent her honeymoon and it now boasts an Agatha Christie Suite. Visitors are welcome to patronize the restaurant and bar which has beautiful sea views.
Other sights include the Torquay Museum which has a delightful image of a young Agatha, roller-skating along the pier in a feathered hat. Close to the Pavilion is a bronze bust of the author, on Palk Street. The Agatha Christie Shop is nearby and sells her books and memorabilia.
Locations Featured in Agatha Christie's Novels
The Majestic Hotel in Torquay was a hotel of elegance. Now renamed the Imperial Hotel, it was the setting for The Body in the Library and Peril at End House. It was also mentioned in Sleeping Murder, the last thriller written by this prolific author. The Palm Lounge is a wonderful place to enjoy afternoon tea with sea views, much as Christie would have done.
If you take a train journey on the Dartmouth Steam Railway to Churston station, you will recognize it from The ABC Murders, along with nearby Elberry Cove and the newly restored Princess Gardens in Torquay. Prehistoric Kent's Cavern became “Hempsley Cavern” in The Man in the Brown Suit and of course the Art Deco Hotel on Burgh Island, which is reached by a tidal causeway, became the setting for two of her best-selling novels: And Then there Were None and Evil Under the Sun.
Finish your tour by visiting Greenway, managed by the National Trust, and enjoy beautiful gardens and stunning views of the River Dart. It was Christie's summer residence from 1938 to 1976 when she died.
We hope you enjoyed following our guide to Agatha Christie local haunts. Have you visited them all yet? Where would you recommend every Agatha Christie fan should visit in Devon?