From Betjeman’s London townhouse to Keats’ seaside cottage, these atmospheric writers’ homes all have a tale to tell
South Lodge at Greenway, Devon
The main house is so well preserved it’s as if Agatha Christie just stepped outside. In the drawing room it takes little imagination to picture yourself listening to one of her manuscript readings. If you are inclined to detective work, you’ll work out for yourself that the scratch marks on the bedroom door were made by the family dog. Christie’s holiday house, Greenway, is gracious and beautifully proportioned. It sits high above the River Dart, amid extensive grounds that slope steeply down to the water. “The loveliest place in the world,” is how she described it. Christie left it to her daughter, who passed it to her son, and he gifted it to the National Trust in 2005. Staying in South Lodge – once the gardener’s cottage, and one of three NT cottages to rent on the estate – you could spend all day watching light dance on the river, boats passing and the steam train puffing through woods to Greenway Halt. Wander down through the gardens, past the Battery with its two cannons (site of the murder in Five Little Pigs) and you’ll arrive at the Boathouse, which Christie used as a location for a grisly murder in Dead Man’s Folly. It also appeared in the 2013 film adaptation, David Suchet’s last appearance as Poirot. Ring the bell at the quay and a ferryman arrives to take you across to Dittisham for lunch at the atmospheric Ferry Boat Inn, or take a cruise to Dartmouth on the Christie Belle riverboat and look back at the house from the water – elusive, fascinating, like all the best mysteries.
• Sleeps 6, from £621 for two nights, nationaltrust.org.uk