Agatha Christie Mile
In the centre of Torquay is the Agatha Christie Mile where each location associated with Agatha Christie is marked with a unique plaque.
Let’s start with the Grand Hotel where she and Archie spent their honeymoon, the Princess Pier where she rollerskated as a child, the elegant Pavilion where they enjoyed concerts, Beacon cove ladies bathing beach and the only bronze bust of Agatha Christie on view in the world, unveiled in 1990 to mark the centenary of her birth.
THE GRAND HOTEL
It was the Grand Hotel where Agatha and Archie spent their honeymoon after their wedding on Christmas Eve, 1914. Two days later, Agatha travelled up to London with her new husband and waved him goodbye as he set off to the war in France. It was to be 6 months before they would see each other again and nearly four years before their married life really began.
…and TORQUAY STATION
In 1990 as part of the town’s Agatha Christie Centenary Celebrations, the Orient Express brought Hercule Poirot (David Suchet) to the station to meet Miss Marple (Joan Hickson) for the first time. In her books Agatha Christie never allowed the two to meet so it was a very special occasion. Poirot and Marple came face to face on the platform, Miss Marple held out her hand and Poirot, in his unique style, raised it to his lips and kissed it. The watching crowd applauded.
Torre Abbey is Torquay’s oldest building dating back to 1196, and is home to The Agatha Christie Memorial Room, which features Agatha’s favourite armchair, her 1937 Remington Portable Typewriter and her plotting notebook containing the handwritten manuscript of the best seller ‘A Caribbean Mystery’.
Roller-skating on Princess Pier was one of young Agatha’s favourite pastimes. In Torquay Museum, Agatha is pictured skating in an ankle length skirt and large feathered hat, as was the fashion then. Skating on the pier cost 2d and was a noisy and bumpy affair but enjoyable outdoor fun.
Opened in 1894, the gardens were built to a classic Victorian design which includes ornate fountains, rich flower beds, ornamental shelters and palm trees imported from New Zealand. Agatha was doubtless a frequent visitor to Princess Gardens and they featured in ‘The ABC Murders’.
AGATHA CHRISTIE BRONZE BUST
The only one on view in the world. The Bust was unveiled on 15 September 1990 by Agatha’s daughter, Mrs Rosalind Hicks, to commemorate the centenary of her mother’s birth and is the work of Dutch sculptor, Carol Van Den Boom-Cairns.
The Strand has always been a busy area of Torquay. In Agatha’s day it was a popular meeting place and a stopping point for stagecoaches. Young Agatha would have shopped with her mother here at exclusive stores such as William & Cox (now Hoopers).
Devon’s oldest museum is home to the Agatha Christie Centenary Exhibition, the only one of its kind in the world. It was created in 1990 with the help of the Christie family, who have loaned exhibits and photos of Agatha previously never seen.
ROYAL TORBAY YACHT CLUB
In her autobiography, Agatha talks fondly of the Yacht Club of which her father, Frederick Miller, was a prominent member. He would visit the Yacht Club daily to play cards, read newspapers and chat to friends, a routine that would only change during the cricket season, when he would devote his time to Torquay Cricket Club of which he was president.
At the turn of the century, Beacon Cove was known as the Ladies’ Bathing Cove, although the men of the Royal Torbay Yacht Club were frequently seen at the club window, hoping for a glimpse of the female bathers.
In Agatha Christie’s teenage years, the Cove was the scene of a near tragedy. While swimming she got into difficulties. Fortunately, she was spotted by a boatman who hauled her to safety.
THE IMPERIAL HOTEL
In the opening chapter of ‘Peril at End House’, the Imperial Hotel, renamed the Majestic, is described by Hastings as …”in its own grounds on a headland overlooking the sea.
The gardens of the hotel lay below us freely interspersed with palm trees. The sea was of a deep and lovely blue.” The terrace of the hotel is also the setting for the final chapter of ‘Sleeping Murder’ when Miss Marple unravels the mystery for Gwenda and Giles. Agatha herself attended many social occasions here and the hotel still reflects the elegance and grandeur of that period.
Agatha Christie Mile Guide
1. The Grand Hotel – Agatha Christie spent her honeymoon here. Perhaps allow time to have morning coffee or afternoon tea here at this grand seafront hotel.1. The Grand Hotel – Agatha Christie spent her honeymoon here. Perhaps allow time to have morning coffee or afternoon tea here at this grand seafront hotel.
2. Torquay Railway Station – This is where Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple met for the first time in 1990, as part of Torquay’s Agatha Christie Centenary Celebrations. Agatha Christie never allowed the two characters to meet in her books.
3. Torre Abbey – The multi-million pound restoration was reopened by David Suchet in 2008 and in 2009 a brand new feature named Agatha Christie’s Potent Plants Garden was opened.
4. Princess Pier – Agatha Christie enjoyed roller skating here.
5. Princess Gardens – Agatha Christie was a frequent visitor here and featured the Gardens in one of her Poirot stories.
6. The Pavillion – The Pavillion began life as a grand concert hall. In 1913, Agatha Christie attended a Wagner recital here with Archie Christie. After the recital they returned to her Ashfield home and Archie proposed to her. They had only met a few months earlier.
7. Agatha Christie Bust – Unveiled by her daughter on September 15th, 1990 to mark Christie’s 100th birthday.
8. The Strand – This was a stopping point for stagecoaches and trams during Agatha’s day. It is believed that she and her mother would have shopped at exclusive stores here such as William and Cox (now Hoopers). Check out the cafe upstairs with its fine views across the harbour.
9. Torquay Museum – Devon’s oldest museum is home to the Agatha Christie Exhibition.
10. Royal Torbay Yacht Club – Agatha’s father was a prominent member of the club and visited daily. In her autobiography she reflects fondly on the club.
11. Beacon Cove – This was known as “Ladies Bathing Cove” during Agatha’s time. Although she was a good swimmer, she nearly drowned here when she was in her teens.
12. Imperial Hotel – Agatha attended many social functions here. The terrace was the setting for the final chapter of ‘Sleeping Murder’. Allow time to have morning coffee or afternoon tea in the Palm Court Room with its panoramic views of the Bay.
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