Page last updated at 00:30 GMT, Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Christie holiday home opens doors


A guided tour around Agatha Christie's home

Novelist Agatha Christie's holiday home will be opened to the public for the first time on Saturday.

The National Trust has carried out a 5.4m restoration of Greenway House near Dartmouth in Devon.

The house, which Christie bought in 1938, and made her holiday home until 1959, was given to the trust in 2000.

Only the 278-acre estate had been open to the public as the house was occupied by Christie's daughter and her husband until their deaths in 2004 and 2005.

What I wish most is that the people who visit it feel some of the magic and sense of place that I felt
Mathew Prichard, Agatha Christie's grandson
The National Trust's makeover aims to restore the property to its 1950s heyday, as it would have been enjoyed by the crime writer and her family.

Among the rooms being opened to the public is the drawing room in which Christie spent summer evenings reading her novels to family and friends, who had to guess "whodunnit".

The author's bedroom, with its view down the River Dart, as well as the dining room and the "fax room", which will display her enormous output of novels, will all be on show.

'Enormous task'

For the first few weeks, visitors will see staff in the final stages of recreating Greenway, as the trust has decided to let the public see the process rather than making them wait until later in the year to gain access to the house.

Mathew Prichard, Christie's grandson, said: "What I wish most is that the people who visit it feel some of the magic and sense of place that I felt when my family and I spent so much time there in the 1950s and 1960s.

"If they do then our gift of Greenway will be worthwhile."

Robyn Brown, National Trust property manager for Greenway, said: "It has been an enormous and expensive task to restore the house and garden."

Because of traffic restrictions in the lanes leading to the property and limited parking, people are being encouraged to arrive at Greenway in "green ways".

These include a ferry from Dartmouth to the quay below the house, or by cycling or walking. The National Trust said car parking can only be booked in advance.

The house also has a ground source heat pump for heating and humidity control in the showrooms, solar panels to provide hot water and an air to water heat pump in the visitor reception area.

The restoration of the property has been undertaken with the help of an 800,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, while Devon Renaissance funded 95,000 towards the new visitor centre at the site. Some 1m was raised through a public appeal.

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