Agatha Christie

    Agatha Christie
    Agatha Clarissa Miller was born on the 15th September 1890, in Torquay, Devon. She was the daughter of Frederick Alvah an American stockbroker, and Clarissa Miller. Her father died when she was a child she was their third child. Madge her sister and Monty her brother were much older than her and were away at school, so to Agatha it was if she were an only child.
    She taught herself to read by the age of five. As a child she was more happy with arithmetic and problem solving than writing.
    She became adept at creating games to keep her self occupied at a very young age. A shy child, unable to adequately express her feelings, she first turned to music as a means of expression and, later in life, to writing.
    Agatha only went to school for a short period of her childhood. She spent a brief period when she was about thirteen at Miss Guyers school in Torquay, were she studied algebra and grammar, a short series of schools in Paris when she was in her mid-teens, when she lived there with her mother.
    Her creativity flourished when often she visited her married sister Madge at their family home in Cheshire. Her first writings were in second hand exercise books and jotters, which she continued to do all through her life.
    She started short stories and then moved onto a novel `snow in the Desert.
    In 1914, at the age of 24, she married Archie Christie, a World War I fighter pilot.
    While he was off at war, she worked as a nurse, joining the Voluntary Aid Detachment. She worked at the Red Cross Hospital, in Torquay Town Hall. This period in her life was to become the turning point in Agatha`s writing career. It was while working in a hospital during the war that Christie first came up with the idea of writing a detective novel. Although it was completed in a year, it wasn't published until 1920, five years later.

    Agatha was to find great satisfaction working as a nurse, and later she joined her friend to work in the newly opened dispensary where working hours were better. She mastered the intricacies of chemistry and in April 1917 she received her qualifying certificate placing her on the register of assistants at the society of Apothecaries. Which would in later life would give her knowledge of poisons when she started writing her mysteries.

    Her daughter Rosalind was born in 1919.

    Her break through book was The Murder of Roger Ackroyd which was published in 1926, this proved to be the turning point in her writing career as its ingenious plot secured her reputation.

    1926 was to be a traumatic year for Agatha, her mother died, her husband demanded a divorce, and to top it all she disappeared for ten days. All of England became wrapped up in the case of the now famous missing writer. She was found in a small hotel, explaining to police that she had lost her memory. Thereafter, it was never again mentioned or elaborated upon.

    She later found happiness with her marriage in 1930 to Max Mallowan, a young archaeologist who she met on a trip to Mesopotamia. He was 14 years her junior.

    During WW II Christie worked in the dispensary of University College Hospital in London. She also produced twelve completed novels.

     By 1955 Christie had become a limited company, Agatha Christie Ltd, which was acquired in the late 1960s by Booker Books. It had already acquired Ian Fleming. In 1967 Christie became president of the British Detection Club, and in 1971 she was awarded the high honour of becoming a Dame of the British Empire. 

    Agatha Christie died on January 12, 1976 at the age of 86 in Wallingford, Oxfordshire.

    Christie ultimately became the acknowledged Queen of the Golden Age. Creator of Hercule Poirot, the Belgian detective and Miss Jane Marple.   In all, she wrote over 66 novels, numerous short stories and screenplays, and a series of romantic novels using the pen name Mary Westmacott.

    Several of her works were made into successful feature films, the most notable being Murder on the Orient Express (1974). Her work has been translated into more than a hundred languages. In short, she is the single most popular mystery writer of all time. 
     
    Greenway House and Garden 

    The house at Greenway was so named because of the “grain way” across the Dart.  In the late 16th century a Tudor mansion, Greenway Court was built.
    The house belonged to the Gilbert family, Sir Humphrey Gilbert who was discover Newfoundland. He was born there 1539, Gilbert was the second birth son of Otho and Katherine Champernowne Gilbert of the Compton and Greenway Estate, Galmpton, Devon. He was a half-brother (through his mother) of Sir Walter Raleigh. His mother`s second husband was a Raleigh. 
    Of their three children born at Greenway, Sir Humphrey, a favourite of Elizabeth I, took possession of Newfoundland for the Queen, whilst Sir John became a lord lieutenant of the county and a man of great local influence, remaining at Greenway for his lifetime.  Katherine was mistress of Greenway Court, the medieval predeccesor situated to the rear of the current building and a wall of which remains.  At the defeat of the spainish Armada one of the captured galleons `Nuestra Senora del Rosario` was towed into Torbay and then on to Dartmouth. The sailors were inprisoned in the old barn at Torre Abbey, to this day the barn is stikk known as the Spanish Barn. The sailors were then moved to Greenway, where they were put to work there.

    From the early 1700`s the estate belonged to the Roopes.
    The central block of Greenway House as it appears today was probably built in the eighteenth century by Roope Harris Roope, who made his fortune in trade with the American colonies 
    A merchant adventurer, Roope developed trade with the New World, possibly importing plants and seeds from America and Portugal - a relation of his having introduced the Camellia 'Captain Rawes'.
    Edward Elton, Bristol merchant adventurer and MP, paid over £9,000 for the property, which, according to a 1791 plan, comprised the new house, two enclosed gardens, a fountain garden and drying yard, behind which the Court had stood.
    James Marwood Elton succeeded his father in 1811. He added two wings to the house and landscaped the surrounding garden. The original entrance to the property from Maypool was incorporated into the garden, and a realigned stretch of road was routed down the hill to a new entrance drive and lodge. This landscape in the style of the designer Humphry Repton remains much the same today. Also dating from this era are some of the garden buildings, the beech trees, enclosing belts and the Camellia Garden. By the time the estate was sold in 1832, it included an extensive kitchen garden of one acre, a melon ground, flower, gardens and, surrounding them all, 'a park of much natural beauty', the whole offering 'the appearance of enchantment rather than reality'.
    In 1832 the estate was bought by Colonel Edward Caroyan. 

    Carlyon bought the estate for £18,000, but his tenure was shortened by the need to return to his Tregrehan estate, and he sold at auction for only, £15,500.
    An account book written in the 1840s had noted substantial payments to nurseries, including Veitch, Lucombe and Prince, for plants possibly destined for Greenway, which could have included camellias and Turkey oaks for the newly created Camellia Garden, and the magnificent Liviodendron (tulip tree) near the house.

    In 1851 the estate was sold again, it was now owned by the Harvey family.  A wealthy copper magnate from St Day in Cornwall, Harvey set about modernising and expanding the estate, restoring the lodge and stables and adding two glasshouses to the walled garden, perhaps inspired by his cousin, Michael Williams, who was restoring Caerhays Castle. His gardener, J. Couldrey, wrote to Gardeners' Chronicle noting the fine specimens of exotic plants at Greenway, which included Acacia, Clianthus, Sophora and myrtles.
    Harvey had fought a proposal for a railway to run across Greenway land down to Greenway Quay from where passengers could travel on to Dartmouth by boat. A compromise was agreed with the building of the Greenway tunnel that runs under Greenway and today transports tourists along the steam railway from Paignton to Kingswear.

    Thomas Bolitho of Trewidden bought Greenway for £44,000 in 1882. A keen gardener, he introduced the Cornish influence in the garden, specialising in camellias, magnolias and rhododendrons sheltered by laurel plantings.
    After Bolitho's death in 1919, his daughter, Mary, and her husband, Charles Williams of Caerhays, took over Greenway. Charles was a prolific gardener and they planted extensively, especially rhododendrons, daffodils and magnolias from the nurseries at Caerhays and Werrington near Launceston, including several introductions discovered by the plant hunter George Forrest In 1937 the Williamses returned to Cornwall, leaving a more colourful and varied Greenway, which they sold to Sir Alfred Goodson of nearby, of nearby Waddeton Court. The estate was split up, and within only a year the house with 36 acres was up for sale again for £6,000.

    Greenway had been in Agatha Christie`s family since 1938, when Agatha noticed that the house was up for sale. She could not resist buying it. Agatha and her husband Max bought the house for £6,000. She and her husband Max soon became very attached to the house and it became their holiday home. Agatha was known b the local people as Mrs Mallowan, her married name. Both her and Max were to become keen gardeners.
    For awhile in 1941 Greenway served as a home for ten children evacuated from St. Pancreas.
    Later in the war, Greenway was to be requistioned for use as officers quarters for the United States Navy. As part of the preparations for D-Day, Greenway became the Officers Mess for the 10th US Patrol Boat Flotilla based in the Dart Estuary. Amongst them was a Lt Marshall Lee, who was to become their unofficial war artist, creating a frieze around the walls of the library. During the build-up to D-Day, American music could often be heard wafting over the estate. According to local rumour, an abrupt silence foretold another raid by the Luftwaffe!
    In 1959 the property was transferred by Agatha to her daughter Rosalind Hicks, and from then until 2000 it was owned in various partnerships by her, her second husband, Anthony, and her son, Mathew Prichard. During this period the family purchased Lower Greenway Farm, comprising 109 hectares (270 acres), which completely surrounds the garden.
    Anthony Hicks ran a commercial nursery at Greenway propagating plants grown in the garden. This in turn led to the creation of an increasingly specialised collection of tender and rare southern hemisphere plants in a natural setting. Rosalind and Anthony have lived at Greenway since 1967 and have greatly enjoyed the garden and their involvement, in developing its unique characteristics.

    In 2000, the family decided to give this much loved family home and garden, including Lower Greenway Farm, to the National Trust.
    Todays house a gracious creamy creamy coloured Georgian mansion, partially screened by mature trees and wild woodland gardens and is surrounded on three sides by the waters of the River Dart, and belongs to the National Trust.
    The 121 hectare (300-acre) estate comprises Greenway House and garden, Lower Greenway Farm and adjoining parkland and woodland, much of which fronts the River Dart.
    The Trust aims to retain the spirit of the place, its almost wayward character, its atmospheric beauty, and its timeless qualities. Care will be taken to nurture the garden and safeguard the excitement, the mystery and the wildness.
    n 2000 Greenway was given to the National Trust. The gardens opened in 2002. In 2005 the National Trust embarked on the 5.4million resoration. The house was opened to the public for the first time in 2009.
    The garden is of exceptional beauty. It has pleasant rambling paths scattered with primroses, bluebells and ferns to contrast with the formal gardens, with their herbaceous borders, tender shrubs, ferns Camellias and Vinery.
    It is renowed for rare half-hardy plants and drifts of wild floweres. Its wonderful position commands breathtaking views over the River Dart.

    Greenway operates a traffic management system to reduce car impact on the local village. All visitors wishing to park their car at Greenway MUST book a car park space before you turn up to visit both house and garden. Whenever possible please travel by 'green ways' to Greenway. Ferries are available from Dartmouth, Brixham and Torquay. All cars that have not reserved  a space before hand  are turned away at Greenway, due to the limited space in the car park, and local traffic restrictions. You can  book through the National Trust  website, or telephone  to know if you can park. Turning cars away at the property creates congestion in the area, and disappointment for drivers and their passengers. If parking is allocated it is very likely that the house is full. If you do not need to travel by car, please consider green ways to Greenway, such as the ferry services, or any combination of train, walking and cycling 
     
    Galmpton 

    Galmpton is a medium sized village located between Paignton and Brixham by the River Dart, close to Stoke Gabriel. Agatha Christie lived here and was closely linked to the local Primary School which dates back to the 19th Century. She was a frequent visitor and was often asked to mark children's essays and stories. She was on the board of governors - and she opened the school assembly hall (there is a plaque signifying this). 
    Agatha Christie lived at Greenway House, just outside of the village, which now belongs to the National Trust .Her daughter, Mrs. Hicks, was also on the board of governors of the school.

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