‘Queen of Crime Writers, Agatha Christie, was born in the English seaside town of Torquay, Devon in September 1890…’
As a young girl, her sister dared her to write a mystery story and, as a result, she produced ‘The Mysterious Affair at Styles’; which was eventually published in 1920 (after being initially turned down by several publishing houses).
During her life in Torquay, Christie incorporated her surroundings and upper middle class background into many of her novels and, as a tribute to their most famous daughter, the clever people of Torquay has established the wonderful ‘Agatha Christie Mile’, which allows fans a glimpse behind the scenes of her books and her childhood. The pleasant walk is a must-see for Christie fans.
The Mile celebrates the woman behind the best selling and timeless novels, and you can pick up a full colour leaflet for the self guided tour at the town’s Tourist Information Centre.
The leaflet clearly marks each of the main stops – seriously, even I managed to find my way round and I have *zero* directional skills. You can also download it from the English Riviera’s website.
It doesn’t matter how you do the tour as it’s not really set out in any particularly order, so have at it and please yourself. I think we started at stop 3 and then randomly dragged LT all over town. We also managed to fit in an extra couple of stops to eat fish and chips and drink cider, but these aren’t marked on the map. Although they definitely should be because there are some excellent bars and restaurants along the sea front. Anyway, back to the tour…. The pretty Pavillion in the town centre shows where Archie Christie proposed to then girlfriend, Agatha and, further down the trail, the Grand Hotel, oozing old world charm, is where they spent their first night as a married couple. The fabulous Torre Abbey Gardens, where Agatha learned about and grew all manner of poisonous plants, is equally fascinating and unnerving as it lets you know that, despite her writing being fictitious, if you got on Christie’s bad side, she absolutely knew how to kill you and make it look like you’d died from natural causes. Torquay rail station, despite its small stature, is the spot were legendary detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple met for the very fist time,
‘It’s great to see the mixture of personals and professional stops along the mile, which really gives you a feel for the writer, as well as immersing you into the scenes from some of her most famous works and subsequent TV adaptations.’
For example. Princess Gardens featured in the ABC Murders, and the wonderfully whitewashed and grand Imperial Hotel was used as the inspiration for the Majestic in ‘The Body in the Library’ and ‘Peril at End House’; as well as being the actual site of the final scenes of Miss Marple’s last case, ‘Sleeping Murder’.
There are several stops that I was less interested in, such as Beacon Cove and the local yacht club, but these do serve as reminders of Christie’s childhood and the places she spend her time. Beacon Cove on it’s own is spectacular, despite the fact that a young Agatha was lucky not to drown there whilst swimming and getting herself into some difficulty. In my opinion, it’s best seen from Living Coasts, which is a bar and restaurant overlooking Beacon Cove and, incidentally, serves excellent cider with a pretty spectacular view.
In 1990, which was Christie’s centenary year, a beautiful bronze bust was commissioned and now stands proudly near the harbour, gleaming in the sun. Aside from having my photo taken with the lady herself, the highlight of the mile was a visit to the Agatha Christie Gallery at the Torquay Museum. This is the only stop on the tour that requires an admission fee, but it’s well worth it when you consider how many other fantastic stop are completely free of charge. The museum hosts a dedicated gallery for her writer, with personal effects, clothing, props and set furniture, first edition books, and wonderfully written and details information panels to guide you through her life.
Walking the mile will delight Christie fans and it’s also an excellent way of exploring the beautiful waterfront and harbour at Torquay. You can’t lose, tbh.
Have you visited the Agatha Christie Mile?