‘Queen of Crime Writers, Agatha Christie, was born in the English seaside town of Torquay in 1890 and spent many happy years living there…’
As a young girl in Torquay, Agatha’s sister dared her to write a mystery story. As a result, she produced ‘The Mysterious Affair at Styles’. This was eventually printed in 1920, after being 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. As a tribute to their most famous daughter, Torquay has established the wonderful ‘Agatha Christie Mile’. This allows fans a glimpse behind the scenes of her life and works. The pleasant walk is a must-see for Christie fans.
‘The Mile celebrates the woman behind the best selling and timeless novels. You can pick up a full-colour leaflet for the self-guided tour at Torquay Tourist Information Centre…’
The leaflet clearly marks each of the main stops. I even managed to find my way around and I have absolutely no sense of direction. You can also download it from the English Riviera’s website.
It doesn’t matter how you do the tour as it’s not set out in any particular order. We started at stop 3 and then randomly wandered all over Torquay. Feel free to fit in an extra stop to eat fish and chips and drink cider, although this isn’t marked on the map. Although it definitely should be because there are some excellent bars and restaurants along Torquay seafront. Just a thought.
Anyway, back to the tour… The pretty Pavillion in the town centre shows where Archie Christie proposed to Agatha. 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.
It’s also rather unnerving as it lets you know that, despite her writing being fictitious, if you got on her bad side, she absolutely knew how to kill you and make it look like natural causes. Torquay rail station, despite its small stature, is the spot were legendary detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple met for the very first 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. It also immerses you into the scenes from some of her most famous books and subsequent TV adaptations.’
For example. Princess Gardens featured in the ABC Murders and the Imperial Hotel was used as the inspiration for the Majestic in ‘The Body in the Library’ and ‘Peril at End House’. It was also used for 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. However, these do serve as reminders of Christie’s childhood and where she spent her time. Beacon Cove is spectacular, despite the fact that a young Agatha was lucky not to drown there whilst swimming It’s best seen from Living Coasts, which is a bar and restaurant overlooking Beacon Cove and, incidentally, serves excellent cider.
A bronze bust was commissioned to celebrate Christie’s centenary year in 1990. It stands proudly near the harbour, gleaming in the sun. However, the highlight of the mile was a visit to the Agatha Christie Gallery at Torquay Museum. This is the only stop on the tour that requires an admission fee. The museum hosts a dedicated gallery for Christie. This displays personal effects, clothing, props, first edition books, and wonderfully written and information panels.
Walking the mile will delight Christie fans, but it’s also an excellent way to explore Torquay.
Have you visited the Agatha Christie Mile in Torquay?