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Ashfield, circa 1900.

Ashfield in Torquay was the childhood home of Agatha Christie. She lived there from her birth until the time of her marriage, and intermittently thereafter. Christie loved this house, and even in old age remembered it fondly. She made the following comments in her autobiography:

"I remember, I remember the house where I was born. I go back to that always in my mind. Ashfield. How much that means. When I dream I hardly ever dream of Greenway or Winterbrook. It is always Ashfield, the old familiar setting where one’s life first functioned… How well I know every detail there: the frayed red curtain leading to the kitchen, the sunflower brass fender in the hall grate, the Turkey carpet on the stairs, the big shabby schoolroom with its dark blue and gold embossed wallpaper."

The Laurels in Postern of Fate is likely based on Ashfield.

Christie reluctantly sold Ashfield in 1938; in 1962 it was demolished and replaced with a small estate of houses. Of the original Ashfield only a monkey puzzle tree and part of the rear wall and entrance remains (off St Vincent Road).[1] A blue plaque marks on Barton Road the top left (northwest) corner of the two-acre property which was Ashfield. The original plaque on a 2 feet high piece of granite was first laid in 2007 but was vandalized. In 2019 Torbay Council installed a new plaque on a much larger 4 feet high piece of granite.[2]


Ashfield map

Part of an Ordnance survey map of the Ashfield area published in 1947. Ashfield can be seen slight right of centre. Above, to the northeast, was St Vincent's Orphanage, now the site of Mount Stuart Hospital. On the northeast side of Ashfield, along St Vincent's Road, part of the original boundary wall still stands. The area is now dotted with small suburban housing. Two large villas can be seen on the map. One called Rooklands, northwest of Ashfield is now called Fairlawn Hall. Another one, directly west of Ashfield on St. Katherines Road is now called Hormead Bury. According to one internet resource, Crow's Nest in Three Act Tragedy was inspired by a bungalow opposite Ashfield, and might well be one of these two. There is however no other source to corroborate this.[3]


References[]

  1. See the comments and post in this Torbay in Pictures Facebook group.
  2. "Two unveilings of Blue Plaque at Agatha Christe’s birthplace," Torbay Weekly, 24 Nov 2020. URL (deadlink. Use this Archive url)
  3. See this link but corroboration is lacking.

External links[]

  • Aerial view of the site of Ashfield. The site of Ashfield can be seen in this excellent aerial view by Stephen J Payne on Google Maps. In the centre of the picture is a white/brown rectangular building. To the right is an area of single and two storey houses. These are located on the land that once was part of the Ashfiuring eld estate.
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