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Agatha Christie’s Biggest Mystery

The Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, UK

The Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, UK

The Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, UK

The Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, UK

The Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, UK

The Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, UK

In December 1926, Agatha Christie was a thirty-six year old, established crime writer, when she mysteriously disappeared. Early on the morning of December 3rd, Colonel Archibald Christie, an aviator in the Royal Flying Corps, had asked Agatha for a divorce because he was in love with another woman, Nancy Neele. He then packed up and went to spend the weekend with his mistress. Later that evening, Agatha left the house leaving two notes; one for her brother-in-law saying she was going to Yorkshire and one for the town constable saying she feared for her life. Her crashed car was found nearby, hanging over the edge of a chalk pit, with her fur coat,  suitcases and identity papers thrown about the car and Agatha nowhere to be found.  A massive manhunt began which included the dredging of a large pond and thousands of police and locals joining to scour the countryside. The manhunt included the first use of airplanes to search for missing people. Archie Christie seemed unconcerned when summoned, yes, he had to be summoned to the crash site, and simply stated his wife was a mysterious and calculating woman, who probably made the whole thing up to promote her latest book! Astonished, the constable placed Archie at the top of the suspect list and had his phone tapped, where his affair and want of a divorce was soon discovered.

As the days went on, the search spread out to all parts of Great Britain. Fellow mystery writers got involved: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle took one of Agatha’s gloves to a noted psychic and Dorothy L. Sayers visited Agatha’s house and the place where the car was found.

It wasn’t until December 14th that the search ended. As it turned out, Agatha had walked to the train station, after crashing her car, and took a train to London. In London she went shopping for  clothes and a new coat and then took the train to Harrogate, which she had seen on an advertisement at the train station.

The Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, UK

The Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, UK

The Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, UK

The Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, UK

The Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, UK

The Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, UK

The Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, UK

The Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, UK

The Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, UK

The Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, UK

The Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, UK

The Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, UK

She checked into The Old Swan Hotel and Spa on the 4th of December under a false name (using, ironically, the surname of Archie’s mistress) Harrogate was the height of elegance in the 1920s and filled with fashionable people looking for fun and excitement. Agatha Christie did nothing to arouse suspicions as she joined in dining, playing billiards, going for spa treatments and attending the balls and dances at the Palm Court at the Swan Hotel.

She even placed an advertisement in the newspaper offering where Teresa Neele was staying.

She was eventually recognized by one of the hotel’s banjo players, Bob Tappin, who alerted the police. They tipped off her husband, Colonel Christie, who came to collect Agatha immediately. Agatha seemed confused and mis-identified Archie as her brother.

The Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, UK

The Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, UK

The Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, UK

The Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, UK

Agatha was brought home and was quickly and completely hidden from reporters.

Because nobody was providing any answers, various scenarios would later be given by the newspapers as theories as to what had happened: temporary amnesia, a nervous breakdown, a plot of revenge to embarrass and humiliate her husband, or a publicity stunt to increase sales of her books. Nobody knew for certain what had transpired. And nobody knows to this day. Agatha never, ever mentioned the episode again. Her divorce was finalized two years later.

And in the end the police charged Agatha Christie for the pay of all the police, and the use of the airplanes during their search for her.

So as noted in my previous post, I was not happy about missing the trip to Harrogate and exploring the Swan Hotel, which was a priority for me. But, as it turned out, my hubby took the time to go to the Hotel and take photos for me and while there he discovered that the Hotel was offering Agatha Christie Mystery Dinners during the month of November, in honor of the 90th anniversary of Agatha’s disappearance. It was a themed mystery taking place in Egypt among the archeologists. Everyone was to dress the part. My husband promptly signed himself up along with a business associate, another man, to attend the mystery dinner. When he told me about it I thought it would be a lot of fun and noted most people would dress the part. On the night of the event, many were indeed dressed in sheik’s robes, archeological dig clothing, or dresses of the roaring twenties, except for said two men. There was even a mix up in their names, since the hotel didn’t think two men would be attending the event together and it must have been a mistake in names, so changed one of the place tag names from Mr O——-, to just Olivia. The men had a good laugh and proceeded with the mystery.  During the dinner, several actors staged sketches and then went around to the ten various tables offering clues and talking to the guests. By the end of the evening the guests at each table were  to collectively name the killer. Table Ten did not discover the correct killer, but had a great time with their table mates, four women from Spain, four women from London, and two men from the US, in trying to figure the mystery out.

The Actors at Agatha Christie Dinner Mystery, Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, UK

The Actors at Agatha Christie Dinner Mystery, Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, UK

The Actors at Agatha Christie Dinner Mystery, Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, UK

The Actors at Agatha Christie Dinner Mystery, Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, UK

It was soon discovered that one of the finely dressed women at this table was actually a 6 foot-five inch, well built man, named Bill! (the guest with the dangling earrings) Great costume Bill!

Guests at Agatha Christie Dinner Mystery, Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, UK

Guests at Agatha Christie Dinner Mystery, Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, UK

Actors and Guests at Agatha Christie Dinner Mystery, Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, UK

Actors and Guests at Agatha Christie Dinner Mystery, Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, UK

The Big Fight Skit during the Agatha Christie Murder Mystery Dinner

The Big Fight Skit during the Agatha Christie Murder Mystery Dinner

Another Death to Deal With!

Another Death to Deal With!

Table Ten

Table Ten

Guests at Agatha Christie Dinner Mystery, Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, UK

Guests at Agatha Christie Dinner Mystery, Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, UK

And to top off the evening….. The Swan dessert!

 Actors and Guests at Agatha Christie Dinner Mystery, Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, UK

A great time was had by all and one thing is for sure. Agatha Christie is still the greatest mystery writer of all time, even her own!

Tomorrow will be the last day in Harrogate. Won’t you join me to find out all about it? See you then!

 

JNW’S Halloween Challenge: Costume

The Last Witch Standing Wins!

The Last Witch Standing Wins!

I Hope you have enjoyed JNW’s Halloween Challenge!

I know I did! Thanks Jennifer!

 

 

 

 

 

Some Days You Just Can’t Win…….A Good Sense of Humor Pays Off

25% Incline?? Are You Kidding Me?

25% Incline?? Are You Kidding Me?

The best thing you can have on a vacation is a sense of humor. After exploring Agatha Christie’s home at Greenway, we had a much longer day than expected and then continued on with the drive to St Ives in Cornwall. My sense of humor was nipped in the bud as soon as we got there.

We had signed a lease for a fisherman’s cottage located on the flat part of St Ives and near the old historic area. The cottage came with a parking spot which they advertised as a “must have” since parking was at a premium. This was their advertisement;

A beautiful town centre 17th century stone cottage tucked away in a quiet cobbled street. Lovingly restored and completely refurbished in 2013 to an exceptionally high standard – the cottage has all the comforts of a bijoux boutique hotel with the freedom to do as you please! Cornish Cottage is a 2 minute level stroll to St Ives harbour, restaurants, cafes, galleries, shops and beaches. Steeped in history and full of original charm and character with wonky walls, a wood burning stove with cornish granite fire surround, granite coins, window seats and exposed beams. Parking space for one car. Underfloor heating and gas central heating. Delicious Cornish Cream Tea or surprise welcome pack awaits guests on arrival! We regret the cottage is not suitable for children. Sorry – no pets allowed.

Things we were not told about…

1. The parking space was a mile away……. up or down, however you want to look at it…….on a 25% grade……….OMG! Who would walk that everyday?

The good thing about arriving at the top was the view! The cemetery had one of the best views in town!

The Cemetery in St Ives, Cornwall

The Cemetery in St Ives, Cornwall

The Cemetery in St Ives, Cornwall

The Cemetery in St Ives, Cornwall

2.  Behind the cottage was a Fish&Chips establishment with a pub……….the smell of used, rancid grease heating up to fry the fish at 0600 was unbelievable!

3. About 0630 every morning the lorry came to deliver the metal casks of beer to the pub…….. rolling barrel after barrel into the pub! The delivery entrance for the pub was right next to our quaint little cottage!

4. After the beer lorry left, the trash man would pull up to get all the glass beer bottles. Clang, clang clang, dumping hundreds of bottles into the truck!

The Tale of the Cottage and the BINS, St Ives, Cornwall

The Tale of the Cottage and the BINS, St Ives, Cornwall

5. The road next to the cottage, also the main road to the parking areas of St Ives, was frequented day and night by tourists whose conversations we could hear without trying! Double glazed windows would have been nice!

The Cottage Window Overlooking main Tourist Walk, St Ives, Cornwall

The Cottage Window Overlooking Main Tourist Walk, St Ives, Cornwall

The Main Tourist Walk to Parking in St Ives, Cornwall

The Main Tourist Walk to Parking in St Ives, Cornwall

6. It has been a long time since I was in a beach town and I forgot the sound the seagulls make all night and day when they are nesting! OMG! This is the sound, just add hundreds of birds at the same time!

 

The Seagulls, St Ives, Cornwall

The Seagulls, St Ives, Cornwall

The Seagulls, St Ives, Cornwall

The Seagulls, St Ives, Cornwall

Now the good bits were……….once I got use to pretending I was among the pirates, heave ho and a bottle of rum and all that!

The cottage was fantastic!

The Fisherman's Cottage, St Ives, Cornwall

The Fisherman’s Cottage, St Ives, Cornwall

The Fisherman's Cottage, St Ives, Cornwall

The Fisherman’s Cottage, St Ives, Cornwall

The Fisherman's Cottage, St Ives, Cornwall

The Fisherman’s Cottage, St Ives, Cornwall

The Fisherman's Cottage, St Ives, Cornwall

The Fisherman’s Cottage, St Ives, Cornwall

This may be the first time we’ve Ever been to a vacation spot and never left the spot! Did I ever make it up that hill again? Stay tuned! More tomorrow from St Ives!

The Gardens at Agatha Christie’s Greenway

 

The Walled Gardens at Greenway

The Old Garden Walls at Greenway

Let’s take a walk through the gardens at Greenway! What’s through this doorway?

 

Let's Look Here First, Greenway

Let’s Look Here First, Greenway

Tennis Anyone?

Tennis Anyone?

Or this one?

A Walk Through the Greenway Gardens

A Walk Through the Greenway Gardens

The Wildflower Bank at Greenway

The Wildflower Bank at Greenway

The Walkway at Greenway

The Walkway at Greenway

The Flowers at Greenway

The Flowers at Greenway

The Flowers at Greenway

The Flowers at Greenway

The Flowers at Greenway

The Flowers at Greenway

The Flowers at Greenway

The Flowers at Greenway

This Doorway takes us to the Peach House!

The Peach House at Greenway

The Peach House at Greenway

The Walkway to the Peach House

The Walkway to the Peach House

The Peach House

The Peach House

I decided to take a little break and sit on one of the benches that overlooked the grounds around the Peach House. I soon had a little friend! He would come down from the tree and talk to me and as soon as someone would start to come close to us he would fly back up into the tree. As soon as the intruders were gone, back he came to talk to me! He flew up and down for over fifteen minutes!

My Overhead Shot of the Tree Where My Bird Friend Hid

My Overhead Shot of the Tree Where My Bird Friend Hid

My Bird Friend

My Bird Friend

The Vegetable Garden at Greenway

The Vegetable Garden and Greenhouses at Greenway

The Area Beyond the Wall is Called the Plantation

The Area Beyond the Wall is Called the Plantation, at Greenway

Here is the Fountain Garden.

The Fountain Garden at Greenway

The Fountain Garden at Greenway

The Pet Cemetery at Greenway

The Pet Cemetery at Greenway

And the pet cemetery!

A Look at the Restaurant and the Gift Shop Area at Greenway

A Look at the Restaurant and the Gift Shop Area at Greenway

One last look at the converted stables that are now the restaurant, garden shop and gift area at Greenway.

The Flowers at Greenway

The Flowers at Greenway

The Flowers at Greenway

The Flowers at Greenway

The Gardens at Greenway are not formal. They are restful, flowing, and carefree. Just like the holiday home for Agatha and her family was meant to be! I hope you enjoyed your walk! See you tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

 

Greenway, the Holiday Home of Agatha Christie

Greenway House, Holiday Home of Agatha Christie

Greenway House, Holiday Home of Agatha Christie

At Entry to Greenway

At Entry to Greenway

Wipe your feet before you enter!

I think what I liked best about Greenway, Agatha Christie’s holiday home in Devon, was it was a home where I could see Agatha and her guests enjoying themselves. There were rooms, many rooms, filled to the brim with her collections; cupboards with stacks and stacks of dishes, her finds from her travels, games and puzzles scattered everywhere. The rooms reminded me of me; I like to collect things, especially from my travels, and find my treasures very comforting remembrances. One gets the feeling that Agatha is here in the house and as you wander from room to room you know you will find her right around the corner! This home is well loved and well looked after, so let’s take a peek inside!

The Drawing Room at Greenway

The Drawing Room at Greenway

The Drawing Room at Greenway

The Drawing Room at Greenway

The pillows have sentences from her books printed on them!

The Drawing Room at Greenway, (Notice the Dominoes on the Floor)

The Drawing Room at Greenway, (Notice the Dominoes on the Floor)

The Piano at Greenway

The Piano at Greenway

In the drawing room is the piano she played only to entertain herself, never to entertain her guests.

Old Photos at Greenway

Old Photos at Greenway

The Fishing Gear is Ready!

The Fishing Gear is Ready!

The fishing gear and picnic supplies are by the stairs in case you want a quiet spot at the river before dinner.

The Library at Greenway

The Library at Greenway

The Library at Greenway

The Library at Greenway

The Library at Greenway

The Library at Greenway

The library is comfy-cozy with a drink’s table by the door, just like in the old movies, and the frieze painted on three sides of the library’s upper walls is a timeline of WWII.  The frieze painted by U.S. Lt. Marshall Lee looks fresh, like it was painted only yesterday. Greenway was acquisitioned during the war, as an officers’ mess, and officers from the 10th U.S. Coast Guard flotilla headquartered here before D-Day.  When Agatha came back to the house after the war she wanted the frieze to stay, but the 16 makeshift bathrooms to go! 

Agatha's Closet

Agatha’s Closet

Her clothes are hung in the bedroom closet and her bags are packed and ready for the next adventure.

Books in the Library at Greenway

Books in the Library at Greenway

Love This Bookcase!

Love This Bookcase!

Love This Bookcase!

Love This Bookcase!

The Bathroom at Greenway

The Bathroom at Greenway AND

The Books in the Bathroom

The Books in the Bathroom

There are books everywhere in every room! Some are in very interesting bookcases! I loved the end-table spinning bookshelves! There is a small library of books even in the bathroom! 

Just One of the Pantries Full of Dish Collections!

Just One of the Pantries Full of Dish Collections!

Just One of the Pantries Full of Dish Collections!

Just One of the Pantries Full of Dish Collections!

The Kitchen at Greenway

The Kitchen at Greenway

The Kitchen and Pantry are always interesting to me! Look at all the dishes! Agatha’s mother and grandmother were collector’s too. You can never have enough dishes! Be sure to notice the typewriter in the kitchen. More about that further in the post!

The Dining Room at Greenway

The Dining Room at Greenway

The Dining Room at Greenway

The Dining Room at Greenway

I watched an elderly gentleman pick up every plate on the dining room table making sure they were made in England! The plates were beautiful!

One of the COLLECTIONS at Greenway

One of the COLLECTIONS at Greenway

One of the COLLECTIONS at Greenway

One of the COLLECTIONS at Greenway

One of the COLLECTIONS at Greenway

One of the COLLECTIONS at Greenway

A Portrait of Agatha with Some of Her Treasures

A Portrait of Agatha with Some of Her Treasures

One of the COLLECTIONS at Greenway

One of the COLLECTIONS at Greenway

And the Dinner Gong!

And the Dinner Gong!

There were so many treasures to look at I asked one of the National Trust guides if everything was left at Greenway. She replied that the family (her grandson) took everything he wanted, but there was still plenty left over! Oh my, I’ll say!

Agatha never wrote at Greenway. She came here to relax, to read and go over her notebooks, many times reading her current mystery to her family and friends in the evenings. However, there is a writing project going on as part of the activities and events at Greenway and old typewriters are placed throughout the house, and even in the kitchen, where one can leave a message for Agatha. Some of the messages are posted on a Twitter account #Type Greenway! Very interactive! 

Greenway is one of my favorite National Trust properties, I loved everything about it. And tomorrow we’ll take a look at the gardens at Greenway! See you there!

A Day With Agatha Christie at Greenway: Getting There

Agatha Christie's Tour Bus, Greenway

Agatha Christie’s Tour Bus, (a 1947 Leyland Tiger PS1/1 single decker with Barnaby bodywork)

Agatha Christie's Tour Bus, Greenway

Agatha Christie’s Tour Bus, Greenway

I am so excited to be visiting Greenway House, the holiday home of Agatha Christie. It is the first private residence of the famous author to be opened to the public. Greenway House is situated on a 278 acre estate on the Dart River in Devon. I will be dividing the posts into several sections since there is so much to talk about and it is all so very interesting! Now let’s get on the tour bus, so to speak!

Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller was born September 15, 1890 into a wealthy, upper middle-class family in Ashfield, Torquay, Devon. Agatha described her childhood as “very happy”, but that her childhood was over when her father died when she was eleven. She was surrounded by strong and independent women, (her mother and her grandmother especially) believing her mother was a psychic with the ability of second sight. She described her grandmother and her cronies as “always expecting the worst of everyone and everything, and were, with almost frightening accuracy, usually proved right.” Her mother insisted that Agatha be educated at home, so her parents were responsible for teaching her to read (which she loved) and write, and basic arithmetic, which she also enjoyed. In 1905 she was sent to Paris to further her education, but returned in 1910 when her mother was ill. They decided to go to Egypt, (a popular tourist destination for wealthy Brits at that time) to spend time in a warmer climate, and stayed three months at the Gezirah Palace Hotel, attending social functions with her mother. They were on the prowl for a husband for Agatha! 

Upon return to England Agatha met Archibald Christie at a dance given by Lord and Lady Clifford at Ugbrooke, near Torquay. Archie was born in India, the son of a judge in the Indian Civil Service. By 1913 he was an army officer in the Royal Flying Corps. The couple married on Christmas Eve in 1914, while Archie was home on leave.

Agatha involved herself in the war effort, joining the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) in 1914, and assisted with wounded soldiers at a hospital in Torquay as an unpaid VAD nurse. She was responsible for aiding the doctors and maintaining morale; she performed 3,400 hours of unpaid work between October 1914 and December 1916. She qualified as an “apothecaries’ assistant” (or dispenser) in 1917 and, as a dispenser, she earned £16 a year until the end of her service in September 1918. In her spare time she wrote.

She was initially unsuccessful at getting her work published, but in 1920 The Bodley Head press published her novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles, featuring the character of Hercule Poirot. This launched her literary career.

Agatha Christie created several series’ characters during her writing career, but her best known was Hercule Poirot. Christie, was a fan of detective novels, having enjoyed Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s early Sherlock Holmes stories. In her detective novel, Poirot was a former Belgian policeman noted for his twirly large magnificent moustaches and egg-shaped head. Christie’s inspiration for this stemmed from real Belgian refugees who were living in Torquay. He appeared in 33 novels, one theatrical play, and more than 50 short stories He first appeared in The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920) and last appeared in Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case (1975) which famously features his death. While her fans loved Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie herself was increasingly fed up with her creation. Late in her career, she described him as “an egocentric creep.”

In 1926, Archie Christie wanted to marry his mistress, Nancy Neele, and asked Agatha for a divorce. Agatha, totally overwrought, left her home and then abandoned her car at a chalk quarry, before disappearing for ten days. There has been a lot of speculation as to what exactly went on during this time. It has been suggested that Agatha disappeared to embarrass her husband, and call him out on the divorce, (mistress and all) or that it had possibly been a publicity stunt to promote her next book. However, when she was found at the Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate having registered under a false name, two doctors diagnosed her as suffering from amnesia and a depressed state from literary overwork, her mother’s death earlier that year and her husband’s infidelity. Agatha never spoke of the incident again.

A quote from Agatha; “I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.”

Life goes on………. and Miss (Jane) Marple was introduced in the short stories called The Thirteen Problems in 1927 and was based on Christie’s grandmother and her cronies.

In 1930 Agatha married Sir Max Mallowen, (14 years her junior) having met him during an archaeological dig. Her travels with him contributed backgrounds for several of her novels set in the Middle East.

Agatha Quote; An archaelogist is the best husband a women can have. The older she gets the more interested he is in her.

In 1938, Agatha Christie, now independently wealthy from her writing, returned to Torbay and purchased a Georgian Manor, named Greenway. Greenway would be the setting for several of her books.

She also wrote six romances under the name Mary Westmacott, but she is best known for the 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections that she wrote under her own name, most of which revolve around the investigative work of such characters as Hercule Poirot, and Jane Marple.

Agatha Quote; I specialize in murders of quiet, domestic interest.

She returned to Greenway again and again in her fiction, setting many of her classic murder mysteries at the beach, cove and island. Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple both ventured to Torbay to solve heinous crimes. While Greenway was never Agatha’s primary residence, it was for a generation the family holiday retreat—where the family gathered for Christmas and Easter, and where she spent her summers. In 1950 Christie turned the house over to her daughter Rosalind Christie Hicks and in 2000 Greenway was transferred to The National Trust. Today, Greenway is restored and furnished as Christie and Max Mallowen would have known it in the 1950s.

 

Christie Mysteries Set Locally

  • Peril at End House
  • Sleeping Murder
  • The ABC Murders
  • The Body in the Library
  • And Then There Were None
  • Evil Under the Sun
  • Dead Man’s Folly
The Ferry Stop at Greenway

The Ferry Stop at Greenway

Greenway is not easy to get to. The preferred and recommended method of arrival is by boat—passenger ferry from Torbay, Dartmouth, or across the river from Dittisham. Any way you arrive at the quay, it is a 400-yard climb up hill to the house and gardens. This is not a trip for those with limited mobility.

The Lane to Greenway, Devon, UK

The Lane to Greenway, Devon, UK

Now that we have had a little background on Agatha let’s continue to make our way to Greenway! Take a good look at that narrow country lane! It is the Green Way, aptly named!  Arriving by car and getting closer to our destination, we first meandered through a neighborhood of Galmpton and then came upon this mile or so of narrow lane to Greenway. See that little extra pavement to the right in the photo? That is how much room you have to pull over if another car or bus approaches! Add to that the idiots that do not read the details of visiting Greenway. You MUST reserve a parking space that is available in 3 hour increments at Greenway House. If you don’t have a permit, pre- arranged, you will be turning your car around and heading home! Now some think it is OK to just park your car in this tiny strip and walk on to Greenway! Now how do the cars pull over when another car approaches???? This is an adventure all in itself. Once you reach the parking lot there is another extended hike up to the house. Golf carts are available to pick you up, but you must register for assistance and the wait can be lengthy as there are over 900 visitors a day.

But, we got here, Leon (the car) was all in one piece and I had my reservation to park, so what’s another walk? The house itself is surrounded by walled gardens, orchards and woodland gardens, so the walk was pleasant.

The Walled Gardens of Greenway

The Walled Gardens of Greenway

Navelwort in Walled Garden at Greenway

Navelwort in Walled Garden at Greenway

The stables and other out buildings have been converted to a gift shop and an eatery, so you can stop and enjoy this area before going on up to the house. What a beautiful view of the river and grounds from the front of the house!

A View of the River Dart at Greenway

A View of the River Dart at Greenway

A View of the River Dart at Greenway

A View of the River Dart at Greenway

There are lawn chairs to sit and enjoy this view either before or after visiting the house.

The Lawn Chairs at Greenway

The Lawn Chairs at Greenway

Greenway, Holiday Home of Agatha Christie

Greenway, Holiday Home of Agatha Christie

Greenway, Holiday Home of Agatha Christie

Greenway, Holiday Home of Agatha Christie

Greenway, Holiday Home of Agatha Christie

Greenway, Holiday Home of Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie at Greenway

Agatha Christie at Greenway

Let’s go in! See you tomorrow!

Getting from Point A to Point B; Don’t Forget the a’s, b’s and little c’s!

Ash Manor House, Yeovil, UK

Ash Manor House, Yeovil, UK

What an Inviting Entryway and Checkout the Flowers!

What an Inviting Entryway and Check Out the Flowers!

To get from Point A to Point B is more fun if you have shorter driving times and lots of smaller a’s, b’s and c’s along the route. After all we are on vacation! When you have been up all night, or at least not sleeping well on an international flight, it is easier to have small stops to look forward to rather than a long jaunt across the countryside in unfamiliar territory! So, those were the conditions I set for my “2016 English Garden Tour” starting at Heathrow Airport and beginning the “Official” part of the tour in Cornwall. But, I made a few stops along the way and they turned out to be lovely! As you have read in previous blog posts we stopped at two National Trust properties on the journey to Cornwall, Stourhead and Tintinhull. Oh, and we drove past Stonehenge, so we can say we’ve seen that too! And then we planned to stop for the night in Yeovil, and stay at the Ash Manor House. What a delightful stay between Point A and Point B! It was easy to find, there was plenty of parking on the premises, it was spotless and there is a restaurant on site! So if you are making your way to Cornwall this also may be a good option for you! Let’s see some photos!

The Lobby Area at Ash House Manor, Yeovil, UK

The Lobby Area at Ash House Manor, Yeovil, UK

The Lady of the Manor House in Her Time! I Wouldn't Mess With Her!

The Lady of the Manor House in Her Time! I Wouldn’t Mess With Her!

Notice looking at the “now” pictures of the house and the “original” picture, that the ivy has been removed from the house. I liked the ivy look better, but that’s just me! The ivy softens the stones and gives it a romantic cottage-y look!

Up the Stairs We Go!

Up the Stairs We Go!

A Beautiful Transomed Doorway at the Top of the Landing

A Beautiful Transomed Doorway at the Top of the Landing

Aww To Drop Into Bed!

Ahh, To Drop Into Bed!

A Quick Peek at LEON

A Quick Peek at LEON and the Village

From Heathrow to Ash Manor House I was trying to adjust to a rental car called LEON. Leon is a diesel engine vehicle that turns off whenever the brake is on for any period of time to save gas.  It is like they do in Nascar to save gas when they think they will not make it until the end of the race and try to conserve fuel. The only difference is Leon does it automatically and it is sooooo scary! I was always concerned it wouldn’t start up again just as we got to the tricky round about or stuck in heavy traffic and then needed to go! Just one more thing to add to the adventure! Who would name a car LEON anyway? I learned one more thing early on in my adventure; never let them stick me wth a LEON at the car rental! Maybe I just need a relaxing drink and something to eat! So let’s go to the bar!

The Bar at Ash Manor House, Yeovil, UK

The Bar at Ash Manor House, Yeovil, UK

The Dining Room at Ash Manor House, Yeovil, UK

The Dining Room at Ash Manor House, Yeovil, UK

My Yummy Evening Meal at Ash Manor House, Yeovil, UK

My Yummy Evening Meal at Ash Manor House, Yeovil, UK

And Then Dessert! The Frog is a Cinnamon Dip!

And Then Dessert! The Frog is a Cinnamon Dip!

And then the next morning, a scrumptious breakfast in the Morning Room overlooking the back garden.

The Morning Room at Ash Manor House, Yeovil, UK

The Morning Room at Ash Manor House, Yeovil, UK

The Back Garden at Ash Manor House, Yeovil, UK

The Back Garden at Ash Manor House, Yeovil, UK

If you are traveling from London to Cornwall you might consider a rest stop at Ash Manor House. All my boxes for the perfect stay were ticked off!

Well, it’s a brand new day and we are off to another National Trust Property! See you next time at Greenway, home of Agatha Christie! I can hardly wait!

 

Thursday Doors at Tintinhull

Tintinhull, A National Trust Property in Somerset, UK

Tintinhull, A National Trust Property in Somerset, UK

Main Entrance at Tintinhull

Main Entrance at Tintinhull

The Boxwood Entrance at Tintinhull

The Boxwood Entrance at Tintinhull, Notice the Diamond Shaped Stone Walkway

Tintinhull, a National Trust property in Somerset, was our second stop of the day on our way to Cornwall.

Keep in mind that finding a particular National Trust property makes some of the best adventures! They are usually off the beaten path and although are addressed in small villages many times I never find the small village!

Tintinhull, is a small, tidy property that just fits the bill. By 1630 the Napper family had constructed the east side of the present house, and this was extended by Andrew Napper in 1722 when the classical west facade and forecourt were built. In about 1900 Tintinhull was sold to Dr S J M Price. He developed the west forecourt as a garden, laying the distinctive diamond-patterned flagged walk and planting the flanking clipped domes of boxwood. Notice the big eagles on the wall too! In 1933 Tintinhull was sold to Captain and Mrs P.E. Reiss, who developed garden enclosures linked by carefully designed vistas and rich planting. Phyllis Emily Reiss created a garden around the 17th century manor house, with six compartments, each room having it’s own character and identity, divided by clipped hedges and walls. She designed the Pool Garden as a memorial to a nephew killed in WWII. The house, gardens and woodland walk create all the charm at Tintinhull!

In July 1939 Reiss made two broadcasts for the BBC entitled ‘In my Garden.’ In 1959 she gave Tintinhull to the National Trust although she lived there until her death on the 18th September 1961.   

Penelope Hobhouse and her husband, Professor John Malins lived at Tintinhull for fourteen years and was in charge of the gardens there from 1980 until 1993. With a name like Penelope Hobhouse, (my auto spelling corrector wants to name her Penelope Hothouse) it’s a given that she was a garden writer, garden historian, self taught gardener and lecturer. She went on to design many gardens in England, Scotland, France, Italy, Spain, Germany and the United States. I especially like her name and I think it is perfect for a gardener! She has written several garden books, and Penelope Hobhouse on Gardening, written in 1994, describes her gardening experiences at Tintinhull.  You can find a video of her Here.

Now let’s take a look at Tintinhull!

The Garden Map at Tintinhull

The Garden Map at Tintinhull

Birds on the Wall Is Always Good!

Birds on the Wall Is Always Good!

Another Entrance to Tintinhull

Another Entrance to Tintinhull

A Very Small Door at Tintinhull

A Very Small Door at Tintinhull

How about this very small door! Was it an opening to a guard shack? Did you drop off the mail here? What was it used for?

A Few Doors to be Seen Here!

A Few Doors to be Seen Here!

i LOVE the Color of the Stone Too!

I LOVE the Color of the Stone Too!

Penelope Hobhouse was noted for her Terra Cotta planters! And I don’t want to miss the windows either!

Somme Window Treatment at Tintinhull

Some Window Treatment at Tintinhull

Another Door and Some More Pots!

Another Door, More Windows and Some More Pots!

Inside Tintinhull

Inside Tintinhull

Only two rooms are open for viewing at Tintinhull. Short, sweet, and modest!

Inside Tintinhull

Inside Tintinhull, with Very Deep Doorways!

Inside Tintinhull

Inside Tintinhull

Inside Tintinhull

Inside Tintinhull

The Barn Tea Room Entrance Doors at Tintinhull

The Barn Tea Room Entrance Doors at Tintinhull

Inside the Tearoom at Tintinhull

Inside the Tearoom at Tintinhull

A Few Garden Photos at Tintinhull

A Few Garden Photos at Tintinhull

A Few Garden Photos at Tintinhul

A Few Garden Photos at Tintinhull

 

A Few Garden Photos at Tintinhul

A Few Garden Photos at Tintinhull

Did you find the doorways in the garden?

Row Houses at Tintinhull

Row Houses at Tintinhull

This section of Row Houses must refer to the village at Tintinhull! This is the only “village” I saw! Loved their cottage gardens and what else? More Red Doors!

Row Houses at Tintinhull

Row Houses at Tintinhull

Row Houses at Tintinhull

Row Houses at Tintinhull

 

This is just one of many photos in the Thursday Door Collection featured by Norm2.0!   Won’t you join in or take a peak at all the doors? See you next week!

 

It’s a Sign!

The White Horse Pub

The White Horse Inn, Hailsham, UK

Posting one last time about the Hoare Family, Stourhead and interesting tidbits………….that led from one thing to another!

When Richard Hoare, Goldsmith, moved his shop from Cheapside to Fleet Street he took his trading sign with him, that of the Golden Bottle, which was a gilded leather bottle that hung outside the shop. This sign was used to distinguish his business from another.

I am fascinated with the signs in the UK. Everyone has a sign!  Cottages in the villages have signs rather than numbered addresses and looking for cottage signs and pub signs while visiting there is very enjoyable!

But how did all this sign business start?  Well, with the Romans! In 43 AD, it was traditional for landlords, in Rome, to hang branches of vine leaves outside their premises to promote the drinking of wine within. People could not read, so an image that made sense was needed. When one saw the grape vines, one thought of grapes and then wine! Voila a sign! However, when the Romans got to the UK, they were lacking the customary vine leaf and hung any kind of evergreen plant over the door instead. The Romans built an extensive road network and with large numbers of troop movements, inns opened at suitable stopping points. Hence the beginnings of the local pub!

By the 12th century people were doing pilgrimages to cathedral towns, such as to the shrine of Thomas Beckett in Canterbury. As Chaucer’s pilgrims in the Canterbury Tales reveal, the pilgrims started their journey at the Tabard Inn in London. Other inns and taverns welcomed pilgrims and knights on their way to the Crusades in the Holy Land.

Pub signs as we know them today were originated with the Royal Act of 1393 when Richard II declared that anyone brewing ale in a town, with the intention of selling it, must hang out a sign or forfeit his ale.

It was Charles I who gave people the right to hang out signs as they pleased.  Prior to that signs were for innkeepers only. So an elaborate language of symbols began with a common understanding. Most common was a dragon for an apothecary, a sugar loaf for a grocer, a wheatsheaf for a baker, a frying pan for a confectioner and a spool for a silk weaver, or in the case of goldsmith, Hoare, the leather sack of gems.

By the 18th Century heavy wrought iron brackets with their sign hung outside every single establishment in Cheapside. During bad weather or a strong wind, these huge signs groaned and creaked and in 1718 a huge sign collapsed killing four people and took out much of the shop front. There was such a problem of hanging signs crowding the streets and knocking people from their horses, that a commission was formed in 1762 to take them all down and fix them to the store fronts. So that became the standard system to identify properties.

But, the British like their traditions and I am glad many, many shops, pubs and cottages use the hanging of signs to identify their property, albeit with lighter, smaller signs!

Here are some of my pub signs collected during my “Garden Tours of England.”

The Bucket of Blood, Cornwall, UK

The Bucket of Blood, Cornwall, UK

According to local folklore, the Bucket of Blood got its name many years ago when the landlord went to the well to get a bucket of water, but found a bucket of blood.  Investigating  further he found there was the badly mutilated corpse of a local smuggler at the bottom of the well! An alternative theory is that the well on the grounds would provide red water due to run off from local tin mining.

Downlong Cottage, St Ives, Cornwall, UK

Downlong Cottage, St Ives, Cornwall, UK

The Mermaid Restaurant, St Ives

The Mermaid Restaurant, St Ives

The Golden Lion, St Ives

The Golden Lion, St Ives

Warninglid Village Sign, UK

Warninglid Village Sign, UK

The Wolfpack Inn, Tenterden, UK

The Woolpack Inn, Tenterden, UK

The Star Inn, Alfriston, UK

The Star Inn, Alfriston, UK

The George Inn, Alfriston, UK

The George Inn, Alfriston, UK

The Bull Inn , Benenden

The Bull Inn, Benenden, Uk

These were a few of my favorite signs! I hope you enjoyed learning about them! See you soon!

The Gardens at Stourhead, a National Trust Property

A Garden Gate at Stourhead

A Garden Gate at Stourhead

One of the many lovely things about the Gardens at Stourhead is the Estate Walk and many other seasonal walks on the grounds. Many of the paths lead around the big lake that is framed by the hilly terrain. When we did the tour of the manor house a gentle, but steady rain was coming down, but after the manor tour was over and we headed out to the garden paths it was pouring! That did not deter a group of scheduled ramblers, who departed from their buses and vans prepared for the weather, in walking boots and rain gear, and carrying one or two walking sticks. I was not as prepared and had been up all night on an overseas flight so we took as many pictures as we could before getting drenched and then headed out to our next National Trust destination that morning, hoping the weather would turn for the best. Here is a LIST of some of the upcoming walking events and future highlights at Stourhead.

First let’s take a look at the entry into Stourhead. It sets the mood, your home is your castle! And Stourhead has the gates and crenelations to prove it! Loved that clock too!

Entry into Stourhead, a National Trust Propert

Entry into Stourhead, a National Trust Property

Entry into Stourhead, a National Trust Property with Lots of Ivy!

Entry into Stourhead, a National Trust Property with Lots of Ivy!

Gated Walls and Meadows at Stourhead

Gated Walls and Meadows at Stourhead

Now let’s look at those gardens!

Another Gate to the Gardens at Stourhead

Another Gate to the Gardens at Stourhead!

Notice the meadow look? We’ve noticed a lot of the National Trust gardens and others are turning part of their land back to meadows, with natural flowers and habitats for birds aplenty!

The Front Meadow at Stourhea

The Front Meadow at Stourhead

The Gardens at Stourhead

The Formal Gardens at Stourhead, Framed by the Woodlands

The Gardens at Stourhead

The Formal Gardens at Stourhead

The Gardens at Stourhead

The Formal Gardens at Stourhead

The Gardens at Stourhead

The Gardens at Stourhead, Inside the Walls

The Gardens at Siourhead, Inside the Walls

The Gardens at Stourhead, Inside the Walls

The Gardens at Stourhead, Inside the Walls

The Gardens at Stourhead, Inside the Walls, all Neat and Tidy and Wet!

The Flowers of Stourhead

The Flowers of Stourhead

The Flowers of Stourhead

The Flowers of Stourhead

The Flowers of Stourhead

The Flowers of Stourhead

The Flowers of Stourhead

The Flowers of Stourhead

The Flowers of Stourhead

The Flowers of Stourhead

The Flowers of Stourhead

The Flowers of Stourhead

P1020868

Which Way to Go? Choices, Choices!

Which Way to Go? Choices, Choices!

Well I hope you enjoyed a very abbreviated and wet tour through the gardens!  Were you carrying an umbrella? We would definitely place Stourhead on our Return Garden List!

Off to another National Trust Property, see you there!

 

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