Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Mystery at Greenway House

No photographs were allowed in the house
so I've taken this description from Agatha Christie,
by Laura Thompson.

Greenway House, that magical white box 
set above the gleaming Dart;
Greenway, with its wild romantic gardens;
Greenway, rooted in its Devon history and yet,
with its ghostly pallor,
looking as if it might at any moment vanish into air.

Agatha Christie wrote to Max in 1942,
"Too dear for our possessing" 
but what excitement to possess it!
I thought tonight, sitting there -
it is the loveliest place in the world -
it quite took my breath away.

Agatha bought Greenway in 1938 for six thousand pounds...
The main rooms opened out from a central hall:
library, dining room and sitting room,
which itself led to a drawing room with long,
white windows giving on to a small, secret lawn.
The first floor had five main rooms,
with a large handsome master bedroom
and a vast lavatory with a wooden surround,
the kind that Agatha favoured.
Above were more bedrooms
and a bedsitting room for Rosalind;
behind was a complexity of servant quarters,
a pantry downstairs and a huge
high-ceilinged kitchen.
Everything was high, deep, rightful.
Everywhere was secrecy, enchantment, mystery.

A strange thing happened.
A false door, put in by Agatha to balance the real door 
on the other side of the fireplace in the drawing room, 
has been opened up by the National Trust
to facilitate the flow of visitors.
As I walked through it I heard something fall, 
seemingly at my feet, 
clattering loudly onto the floorboards.
The people just ahead of me turned sharply at the sound
and we all looked to see what had been dropped.
I checked - it wasn't my lens cap which has 
an annoying habit of popping off the camera,
it wasn't my glasses. I carried nothing else.
In any case, it sounded heavy and had bounced noisily.
Did the couple in front drop anything?
No. They were mystified. 
We all looked carefully
to see if anything had rolled away, 
but there was absolutely nothing there.


  1. Hi,

    Very envious that you have been to Greenway. It would be nice to get there one day.

    I did read all of your post, I wonder what the sound was, certainly a mistry.

  2. Crikey! A real mystery. It sounds a bit spooky? My lens cap is forever 'popping' off - that's a mystery too at times!

  3. I took a river trip on the Dart years ago, and the guide pointed out the house, way up above the river. If I ever visit that part of the country again, it will be on my list.

  4. Lucky you, a mystery at Agatha Christie's house. Love her books, go back and reread them every few years.