It was first mentioned in 1493 as "Greynway", the crossing point of the Dart to Dittisham. In the late 16th century a Tudor mansion called Greenway Court was built by the Gilbert family. Greenway was the birthplace of Humphrey Gilbert. The present Georgian house was probably built in the late 18th century by Roope Harris Roope and extended by subsequent owners. The gardens may have been remodelled by landscape gardener Humphry Repton.
Greenway was bought by Agatha Christie and her husband Max Mallowan in 1938. The house was occupied by Christie and Mallowan until their deaths in 1976 and 1978 respectively, and featured, under various guises, in several of Christie's novels. Christie's daughter Rosalind Hicks and her husband Anthony lived in the house from 1968, until Rosalind's death in 2004.
The Greenway Estate was acquired by the National Trust in 1999 and it is now a Grade II* listed building. The house and garden is open to the public, as is the Barn Gallery. The large riverside gardens contain plants from the southern hemisphere, whilst the Barn Gallery shows work by contemporary local artists.
Inspiration for Agatha Christie's works
Agatha Christie frequently used places familiar to her as settings for her plots. Greenway Estate and its surroundings in their entirety or in parts are described in the following novels:
- Five Little Pigs (1942)
The main house, the foot path leading from the main house to the battery overlooking the river Dart and the battery itself (where the murder occurs) are described in detail since the movements of the novel's protagonist at these locations are integral to the plot and the denouement of the murderer.
- Towards Zero (1944)
The location of the estate opposite the village of Dittisham, divided from each other by the river Dart, plays an important part for the alibi and a nightly swim of one of the suspects.
- Dead Man's Folly (1956)
The boat house of Greenway Estate is described as the spot where the first victim is discovered, and the nearby ferry landing serves as the place where the second real murder victim is dragged into the water for death by drowning. Other places described are the greenhouse and the tennis court, where Mrs. Oliver placed real clues and red herrings for the "murder hunt". The lodge of Greenway Estate serves as the home of Amy Folliat, the former owner of Nasse House.
- John Curran: "Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks - Fifty years of mystery in the making", Paperback edition, HarperCollinsPublishers 2010, ISBN 978-0-00-731057-9
- Campbell, Sophie (February 24, 2009). "Agatha Christie's home Greenway opens to the Devon public". London: www.telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 2009-02-24.
- "National Trust - Greenway - History". www.nationaltrust.org.uk. Retrieved 2008-02-04.
- Norway, Arthur Hamilton (1897) Highways and Byways in Devon and Cornwall. London: Macmillan; p. 100
- Greenway, Devon. London: National Trust, 2003; revised 2006, 24 pages. ISBN 978-1-84359-079-8
- Greenway information at the National Trust
- Images of Greenway on the Official National Trust Print Website
- Video tour of Greenway from a BBC newscast