The Save Agatha's Home campaign plans to turn the legendary crime writer's home into an arts and events venue

By Phil Boucher
June 11, 2021 01:11 PM
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Oxfordshire home of acclaimed crime novelist Dame Agatha Christie comes onto the market with Savills Henley
Oxfordshire home of Agatha Christie
| Credit: Savills; Inset: Walter Bird/Getty

Agatha Christie's family home in Oxfordshire, England may one day become a writer's retreat and literary center.

That's the hope of a group of 10 plucky locals in the town of Wallingford (around 50 miles west of London), who are currently trying to raise $4.2 million to buy the property and turn it into a museum dedicated to the crime writer's best-selling whodunnits.

"We are all volunteers so are working for free and just doing what we can in our spare time," group member Lorna Denby tells PEOPLE.

"Agatha Christie lived there for 42 years and it was her private home. She had another house in London and a holiday home called Greenway in Torquay (southwest England), but this is the home she shared with her husband, Max," she explains. "It's quite a big ask as it's on the market for a lot of money but we just think it's so important, not just for Oxfordshire but for people who love her work around the world."

Oxfordshire home of acclaimed crime novelist Dame Agatha Christie comes onto the market with Savills Henley
Agatha Christie's home in Oxfordshire
| Credit: Savills
Oxfordshire home of acclaimed crime novelist Dame Agatha Christie comes onto the market with Savills Henley
Agatha Christie's Oxfordshire home
| Credit: Savills

Time, however, is short. Christie's house has been listed since April and the Save Agatha's Home campaign is competing with private buyers to secure the historic five-bedroom house, which covers 6,256 square feet and comes with five acres of land, a study, library, adjoining one-bedroom cottage, and stunning landscaped gardens leading down to the River Thames.

"The property is arranged over three floors with well-proportioned rooms, high ceilings and large windows that provide plenty of natural light," says listing agent Stephen Christie-Miller of Savills Henley. "Many period features have also been retained creating a stunning family home full of immense character and charm."

Oxfordshire home of acclaimed crime novelist Dame Agatha Christie comes onto the market with Savills Henley
Oxfordshire home of Agatha Christie
| Credit: Savills

More crucially, the home (called Winterbrook House) possesses genuine literary - and movie - history, as it was in its study that Christie wrote many of her 66 detective novels, including Murder On the Orient Express and Death on the Nile. Both of these have been turned into multiple movies, with a new Kenneth Branagh-directed version of Death on the Nile scheduled for release in 2022, starring Gal Gadot and Annette Bening.

Christie, whose books are estimated to have sold in excess of 2 billion copies, lived at the property with husband Sir Max Mallowan until her death in 1976 and is buried in the nearby churchyard of St Mary's, Cholsey.

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Murder on the Orient Express
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Murder on the Orient Express
| Credit: Nicola Dove/twentieth Century Fox

"There are people in the village who knew Agatha and used to bump into her in the butchers or the bakers," says Denby. "In the area, she was just known by her married name as Mrs. Mallowan. She was a very private person and people were very good at leaving her to herself and just treating her like a normal person. I think that's why she liked the house and the area. She was able to just get on with her day-to-day life and get on with her writing."

To help secure the property, Save Agatha's Home has launched a crowdfunding appeal to raise $700,000 towards the purchase price and reached out to historic trusts, financial institutions, and a number of famous faces who have been involved with Agatha Christie over the years.

Gal Gadot, Death on the Nile
Credit: Alamy

"It's basically a case of trying all avenues," says Dendy. "It's really time-sensitive, so we've just had to try and hit the ground running. But we have made some really good inroads and are confident that side will hopefully pan out."