Those of you who’ve been on our Derwent and Carlton Hotel weekends will have undoubtedly seen various mentions of our most famous resident here, Dame Agatha Christie. She’s sold more books than anyone else worldwide – very big in the US and Japan apparently. She wrote 66 detective novels, 14 short story collections as well as penning the world’s longest running play The Mousetrap.
Agatha was born in a beautiful, now sadly gone, house called Ashfield in Barton Road and baptised in the church just up the road from the Derwent and Carlton hotels. She used to swim at Beacon Cove, roller skated on the pier and honeymooned with her first husband Archie Christie at the Grand Hotel, on the seafront.
Ever wondered why most of her victims were bumped off with poison? Agatha learned all about that while working as a pharmacist’s assistant in the dispensary set up in Torquay Town Hall during WW1.
The marriage to Christie hit the rocks but her love affair with Torquay never wavered. The town provided a never ending source of inspiration for characters, plots and locations. She eventually bought Greenway Estate overlooking the River Dart with her second husband archaeologist Max Mallowan as a holiday home. It’s a great place to visit when you’re not on the alleys.
In its Victorian heyday Torquay was THE place to visit. The posh classes flocked here – not to play skittles at that point – but for health reasons: to enjoy the wonderful sea air, mild climate and the palm trees. It was thought that a spell here could cure tropical illnesses.
The opening of the railway in 1848 effectively put Torquay on the map. Victorian visitors loved it so much that loads of ‘em stayed on, hence you can see hundreds of Victorian houses, villas and mansions dotted all over town.
Meanwhile the legendary BBC series Fawlty Towers also cemented Torquay’s reputation as a must-see destination. Its inspiration came from a quirky Torquay hotelier called Donald Sinclair who became seriously annoyed with John Cleese and his film crew. The story goes that he criticised their table manners and chucked some of their stuff out of a window because he was convinced it contained a bomb. The series was never actually filmed in Torquay though but the town has been milking its reputation ever since!
So next time you book one of our Torquay weekends, why not watch an old episode of Fawlty Towers or revisit an old Agatha Christie detective novel to get yourself in the mood for this world famous resort.