Agatha Christie – Greenway
A place of respite and inspiration
Take a large country house, with a library of ancient books and a ticking grandfather clock in the hallway. Place a trapdoor in the garden leading to a cellar underneath the dining room which in turn is meticulously set for dinner with the finest china and glass. Then surround the house with extensive grounds to include woodlands, a walled garden and a greenhouse of exotic and quite possibly poisonous plants. Stir up all these ingredients and you have, of course, the perfect recipe for a murder mystery.
Visiting Agatha Christie’s Devon holiday home Greenway on the first Spring day after an interminable winter, it was easy to surmise how such a setting would have influenced Christie, the author of over 80 murder mystery novels. Locations such as the isolated boathouse, fronting onto the estuary, was the scene of the crime in Dead Man’s Folly.
As writers and creatives, we need to conjure pictures and stories from our inner selves; it is part of what we do. However, being in a situation and soaking up what is has to offer in terms of physicality and atmosphere is definitely a powerful force that can feed into our imagination. Sometimes we need to create that environment for ourselves, or simulate it as close as we can. Alternatively, we may stumble across a new place or situation that will provide fresh stimulus for our creative expression and a catalyst for previously uncharted possibilities.
After soaking up the wonderful Greenway, now in the care of the National Trust, it was afternoon tea in the cafe and I took out my notebook to capitalise on my newly found inspiration. But, as my pen moved across the page, a statue perched high above on the bookshelf, started to topple…