Mrs Mallowan, aka Agatha Christie, lived in Wallingford, Oxfordshire for many years and is buried in nearby Cholsey. In my quest to visit the key locations associated with the world's best selling author of all time, I made a visit to the town to discover its Christie connections.
Market Place, with Tourist Information Office on the right
I made the easy journey to Wallingford by bus from Oxford and discovered a charming town which has many independent shops and restaurants. There is a delighfully sense of timelessness about the place and I half expected to bump into Miss Jane Marple while I was there. The Tourist Information Office was great for picking up some leaflets, including the Dame Agatha Christie Trail, and their staff in there were so friendly and helpful.
The Corn Exchange is also in the Market Place and is where the Sinodun Players perform. Agatha was their President from 1951 until her death in 1976. However they didn't perform in the Corn Exchange until the year after her death.
A short walk from the Market Place is the Wallingford Museum which has a small but special, permanent exhibition about Agatha. It provides a rare glimpse into the personal life of the famous author, who was a very private person, with interviews with local people who knew her and photographs. The Museum holds an anual Agatha Christie weekend in September. The museum has lots of other fascinating exhibitions and their staff were very friendly and knowlegable.I wish I could have stayed longer.
Winterbrook House is the former home of Agatha and her husband Max Mallowan. Today it is a private residence and it is not open to the public. However the house is easily recognizable with it's blue plaque.
Agatha and Max bought the house in 1934 and it is where she sadly died on 12 January 1976. Throughout her life Agatha owned several homes but this is the one that appears to have been their real family home according to Rosalind Hicks, her daughter, and Matthew Pirchard , her grandson. It was very much a private retreat for the family. Agatha was known by her married name Mrs Mallowan in the town and was a regular visitor in the local shops.
Agatha is buried nearby in the churchyard of St Mary's Cholsey. The beautiful parish church dates from 986 and has a picture postcard setting on the fringes of the village, with views onto open fields.
There are many interesting gravestones but to find Agatha's grave follow the path round to the north west corner of the churchyard.
Agatha and Max's gravestone is one of the most impressive in the churchyard. Agatha's funeral was a family occassion but her guests were outnumbered by the press. The gravestone records her married name of Agatha Mallowan.
When Max died two years later, in 1978, he was buried alongside Agatha. However his occupation of archaeologist was misspelt.
Wallingford is an easy do-able day trip from London but it does take a bit off planning on public transport.
Nearest Train Station: Cholsey. Trains depart from London Paddington.
Buses: X39/ X40 from Oxford to Reading passes through Wallingford.
Other useful websites:
If you enjoyed this you might like reading my other blogs about Agatha Christie.
I lead bespoke guided tours round Agatha Christie's London.
The author of this blog is a qualified City of London and City of Westminster Tour Guide who leads guided walks combining world famous landmarks with hidden treasures often missed by the crowds