Part Four: Greenway, continued
The house is a classic Georgian the color of clotted cream. We go in through the back entrance, just as Agatha and her guests would have done. Nobody ever used the front door, Gill tells us. She shows us into the dining room, where we enjoy a scrumptious meal marred only the fact that I overfill my beer glass. The head froths over the rim and onto Agatha Christie’s original dinning room table.
Stupidly, I just watch this happen. Ginny jumps up and hands me her napkin. “Quick, mop that up. That’s probably an antique.” “Oh, all the furniture in the house is antique,” Gill says, matter-of-factly. “Never you mind, deary.” This strikes me as something Agatha would say, and my mortification passes.
Gill guides us through the house. It is a comfortably decorated with an eclectic taste. We admire a brass-studded Baghdad chest in the hall. In it, Gill tells us, a body is found in one of Agatha’s novels. Lots of other things, if not bodies, were tucked away in the house when the National Trust took over the property in 2000. Because everyone in the family was a collector, the shelves and cabinets were jammed with china, ceramics, books, glassware, and watches. Gill shows us a doll – just returned from refurbishment – that they found in a drawer. Above the doll hangs an oil painting of the young Agatha, clutching the same doll, nearly a dozen decades before. As we go up the stairs, we admire nineteenth century prints of horse racing and ice fishing scenes brought from the United States by Agatha’s American father. Gill shows us the conservatory room where teams of volunteers continue to sort through, catalog, and preserve the contents of the house. We return to the dining room where Gill has laid out a selection of books from which to choose a remembrance of our visit. Ginny selects Dead Man's Folly, one of Agatha’s mysteries inspired by the Greenway setting. I choose her Autobiography.
Reluctantly, we climb back in the car and head to Oxford. Tony tells us to be on the lookout for Glastonbury Tor on the horizon, but we can’t make it out. As if to make up for this disappointment, he says: “Stonehenge is not too far out of the way. Would you like to swing by and have a look?” When we get there, it has just closed, but it is just off the roadway, so we walk up to the fence. The stones rise mysteriously from the grassy knoll. On the opposite side of the road, sheep graze placidly, oblivious to the tourist bustle nearby and the spiritual energy that some believe emanates from the scared spot.
Coming up next: Oxford