The Boathouse at Greenway
Greenway is a beautiful estate on the banks of the river Dart in south Devon. There has been a house here since Tudor times, when a mansion known as Greenway Court was built for Otho Gilbert. Otho's son Humphrey was a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I, having taken possession of Newfoundland for her in the earliest days of English overseas expansion. There is also a traditional link with Sir Walter Raleigh. The boathouse on the river is known as the Raleigh Boathouse, and although it is possible that Raleigh kept a boathouse here nothing is proven.
The estate was then owned by a number of wealthy local merchant adventurers and industrialists. The central block of Greenway House as it appears today was probably built in the eighteenth century by Roope Harris. Roope made his fortune in trade with America. The surrounding gardens were laid out in a naturalistic style in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
Greenway is now most famous for its association with Agatha Christie, who with her husband Max Mallowan, owned Greenway from 1938 until 1959. Although during the 1930s Agatha Christie was spending much time abroad helping her husband on archeological digs, by 1938 they had decided to buy a new home in south Devon. Ashfield, Agatha's childhood home in Torquay had by 1938 had its view of the sea cut off by a noisy secondary school. Wanting to recreate an idyllic version of her childhood home, Greenway house was chosen, with its wonderful views over the river Dart. The couple moved in just as World War Two began. It was here that "Max Mallowan later recalled listening on the radio to the proclamation of war, while their kitchen help wept into the vegetables" (The Life and Crimes of Agatha Christie by Charles Osborne P108). Once the war began Greenway was used as accommodation for children evacuated from London, and in 1943 was taken over as lodging for United States Navy personnel. According to Charles Osborne many of the officers staying at the house were from Louisiana. The big magnolia trees in the garden made them feel at home.
Interior of the boathouse.
Following the war, the Mallowan's resumed their lives, travelling in the Middle East, and then spending time back in England, frequently at Greenway. Inevitably Greenway provided the locations for some of the events in Agatha Christie's novels. The Greenway boathouse found its way into Dead Man's Folly of 1956 - the murder victim's body was found here.
The property, now owned by the National Trust, runs workshops and a lecture programme in the barn. Open air theatre productions are also staged here.
Directions: Greenway is not well signposted. From the A3022 south of Torquay, follow signs to Greenway Ferry. Alternatively park in Dartmouth, or use the Dartmouth Park and Ride, and then sail up the Dart to Greenway on one of the regular scheduled sailings. This is the most pleasant way to get to the property. Ferries are also available from Brixham and Torquay. Click here for an interactive map centred on Greenway.
Opening Times: Opening hours for National Trust properties can be complex. Please use contact details below.
Address: Greenway, Greenway Road, Galmpton, near Brixham, Devon TQ5 0ES
Access: If you are coming by boat a steep hill leads from Greenway Quay up to the house. For those coming by road there is designated parking close to the house. The grounds are partly accessible to wheelchairs but there are many steep slopes. A map showing an accessible route is available. Adapted toilet facilities are provided.
telephone: 01803 842382