27 March 2017 | 10 °C

Agatha Christie's London

Agatha Christie's London

Author Agatha Christie is most closely associated with her birthplace, Torquay in Devon.

But this most popular of authors — she's the world's best-selling writer, outsold only by Shakespeare and the Bible — left her mark all over London too.

At Home in London

Our heroine might have thrived at the Devon country houses that so often appear in her detective stories, but she lived in various London properties for many years during her long and eventful life.

Two townhouses in Kensington and Chelsea currently carry plaques that bear her name: Cresswell Place, where she lived with her first husband in the 1920s, and 58 Sheffield Terrace, where she lived from 1934 to 1941.

She was particularly productive at Sheffield Terrace, writing 16 novels there, including Murder in Mesopotamia and Death on the Nile.

Pictures from the ever-brilliant OpenPlaques website

But there are other, lesser-known London addresses for Christie, as this Telegraph article is keen to point out.

47-48 Campden Street gets little recognition as one of Christie's homes. There is no blue plaque, although she... lived there for four years, between 1930 and 1934, and... wrote three Poirot novels (Murder on the Orient Express, Peril at End House and Lord Edgware Dies), one Miss Marple book (The Murder at the Vicarage), and two more novels (The Sittaford Mystery and Why didn't they ask Evans?)  

A little more detective work, and we've sniffed out a few more. After the war, the Christies settled into a flat at 5 Northwick Terrace in St John's Wood, around 1918. And although details are sketchy, there's evidence that Christie wrote Witness For The Prosecution while living at 48 Swan Court in Chelsea.

Working at UCH

It was while working at University College Hospital during the Second World War that Christie learnt a lot about poisons.

Much of this unique knowledge was put to good use in the crime novels she wrote after the war. The 1961 classic, The Pale Horse, would have been a very different book without the thallium poisoning, apparently suggested to her by UCH Chief Pharmacist Harold Davis.

Agatha and the West End

London's West End features in many of Christie's stories.

And there's been an enduring landmark to Agatha Christie's popularity in Theatreland for many, many years. The Mousetrap, Christie's classic whodunnit, has been running at St Martin's Theatre for the past 39 years. Before that, it had played at the Ambassadors Theatre next door, opening on 25 November 1952.

The world record-breaking show has now exceeded 25,000 performances in London.

It's been running a seriously long time. The Mousetrap, photo by psyjaw in the Londonist flickrpool.

The 60th anniversary of The Mousetrap in 2012 was marked by the erection of a memorial to Agatha Christie on the junction of Cranbourn Street and Great Newport Street by St Martin's Cross.

The memorial is rather beautifully lit at night. Photo by Francesco Camaro.

Taking the form of a book about 2.5 metres high, and made in bronze, it contains a bust of Christie, as well as images of her greatest creations, and information about her life and work.

Agatha Christie by Terry Moran.

The 50-odd book titles included, in more than 30 languages (including braille) were chosen in a competition by her many international fans.

M Poirot and Miss Marple on the artwork. Photos by Terry Moran.

Drinking with Agatha

If you've read both her personal story, and her fictional stories and thought, 'There's someone I could go for a pint with', you could always pop into Chelsea's Cross Keys pub for some refreshment with literary connections.  

Popular pints at the Cross Keys. Photo by Matt Brown in the Londonist flickrpool.

Whitehaven Mansions

Although not connected with the author at any point in her lifetime, any Agatha Christie tour of London should take in Florin Court, the gorgeous Art Deco building in Smithfield, used as Whitehaven Mansions, Hercule Poirot's London home in the Poirot TV shows.  

Florin Court. Photo by James Beard in the Londonist flickrpool

Do you know of any other Agatha connections in London? Let us know in the comments below.

Last Updated 24 October 2016

Guided Walks in London

Thanks for celebrating Agatha's birthday. Really enjoyed reading the blog. There's about 10 different properties she lived in or owned in London during her lifetime. Many of them still survive and the most well know missing one is the modernist Isokon building, in Lawn Road, Hampstead.

Greg Tingey

Stuff A Christie - I could & still can not understand why people regard her writings as anything other than ephemeral trash.
If you want a really good detective novelist, whose London might be worth tracing, might I suggest:
Dorothy L Sayers ??

Guided Walks in London

Zoe, I'm glad you found it useful, that's most appreciated as I love reading the Londonist. The Isokon Building is very beautiful. When Agatha and Max Mallowan lived there in the early 1940s the building was known as Lawn Road Flats and she describes living there in her Autobiography. Thanks again for a great article.

Chelsea Physic Garden

You might be interested in this event coming up at Chelsea Physic Garden, Dark Brilliance: Agatha Christie, poisonous plants and murder mysteries. A lively discussion and debate with an expert panel of crime writers. Christie lived near the Garden in the 1930s and 1940s and it is very likely that she was in fact a visitor so we thought it fitting that a discussion of her works and the use of poisons as the murder weapon should take place at the Physic Garden!
http://chelseaphysicgarden.co....

Marlen Godwin

Great article. Fond memory, the filming of one of the Poirot TV series in 1997 in Charterhouse Square - our offices were by the Square and had travelled in early - what a delight to have that view and David Suchet walking in the park, priceless.

DH85

Another good choice would be Brown's Hotel, believed to be the basis for Bertram's Hotel in the Miss Marple novel At Bertram's Hotel.