The International Agatha Christie Festival comes to Torre Abbey

torre abbey
(Last Updated On: August 27, 2015)

The International Agatha Christie Festival returns to the Bay, from Friday 11th to Sunday 20th September, with special events taking place at Torre Abbey Historic House and Gardens.

Executive Lead for Tourism, Culture and Harbours, Cllr Nicole Amil said: “This wonderful week-long event celebrates the life, literature and legacy of Agatha Christie on the 125th anniversary of her birth in Torquay. There is something to suit all ages and this year there will be events for children and young people over the weekend of Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 September.

“Held at Torre Abbey Historic House and locations across the Bay, the festival has an exciting mix of literary talks from best selling crime writers, theatre performances, talks, writers’ workshops, children’s events, a vintage fair, cookery demonstrations, film screenings, a birthday garden party, a tea dance and a glamorous ball.”

Family events include storytelling at Torre Abbey Historic House, a murder mystery event on Oddicombe Beach, and a performance of Mr Stink (from David Walliams children’s book) on Saturday 11 September. On Sunday 12 September there will be a Vintage Fair at Torre Abbey Historic House. For more information and to book tickets at all locations visit

Torre Abbey Historic House and Gardens is the International Agatha Christie Festival hub and an entrance ticket will provide access to the house, gardens and book tent as well as a free programme of daily activities and a newly-curated exhibition, Agatha Christie: Unfinished Portrait.

Event programme at Torre Abbey Historic House during the Agatha Christie Festival:

Agatha Christie: Unfinished Portrait: A Life in Photographs
Torre Abbey Historic House, 12 September–18 October
A beautifully curated exhibition including many previously unseen photographs brought together for the 125th anniversary year by the Christie Archive Trust and Agatha Christie Ltd with support from the Colwinston Trust. Expressing the author’s humour, intelligence and adventurous nature, including tender moments with family and friends, and accompanied by quotes in Christie’s own words, these photographs offer a new understanding of the woman who became the Queen of Crime. Torre Abbey is the first venue outside of London to host this exhibition, complimented by a display of original letters and personal anecdotes from global fans collated as part of the #125Stories project.

Dan Metcalf and the Lottie Lipton Adventure
12 September, 10am–10.45am
Join Devon based author Dan Metcalf on a storytelling journey in and around the grounds of Torre Abbey. Dan’s Lottie Lipton Adventures feature a sparky nine year old who investigates and solves mysteries in The British Museum and are packed with action, adventure and puzzles for the reader to solve. This workshop style session has been created especially for the festival to entertain young people and their families and it promises to provide a fun and interactive introduction to writing imaginatively about mysterious and magical places. Tickets available to book online

Ali Sparkes: Car Jacked
12 September 12, 11am–12noon
Agatha Christie often wrote about troubled mothers, however Blue Peter Book Award winner Ali Sparkes wonders if there is a monster in every mother. Ali Sparkes wrote Car-Jacked with two main characters in mind – Jack, a boy genius, and Ross, a bank-robber who accidentally abducts him in a car-jacking. But Jack’s obsessive, controlling mother Leonie rang a few bells. Could it be that even Ali could have a monstrous streak..Surely not! Well, she has a little confession… Ali is renowned for her fun family author sessions and she has sold out at festivals all over the UK. Join her and find out whether you’re a Child Genius or a Monster Mother… And do the genius/monster quiz at Tickets available to book online

Bonnie Macbird writes Sherlock Homes
12 September 12, 12.15pm – 1.15pm
Bonnie MacBird is an award-winning Hollywood screenwriter who wrote the original screenplay for the movie TRON. She has been a Sherlock Holmes fan since the age of ten. Bonnie’s debut novel Art in the Blood is an original Sherlock Holmes Adventure, written in the style of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, to be published by HarperCollins in September 2015. In this interactive session for teens as well as adults, she will share some tips and tricks from her creative writing classes at the University of California, Los Angeles and talk about how she has been inspired by Agatha Christie and writers of the ‘Golden Age’ of detective fiction. Tickets available to book online

Lunch and Listen
12 September, 1.30pm-2pm (FREE event)
Join tauthors, Bonnie MacBird, Dan Metcalf and Ali Sparkes in the Book Tent for an informal panel discussion about how they find their inspiration. Admission to this event in the Book Tent at Torre Abbey is free – limited seating

Reading: Everything stops for tea (FREE recurring event)
Commencing 12 September then every day til 19 September, 4pm-4.30m
Join the festival team in the Book Tent to hear free live daily readings of Agatha Christie’s short stories. If you get hooked, you can buy the collection from our pop-up Waterstones bookstore. Admission to this event in the Book Tent at Torre Abbey is free – limited seating.

John Curran’s Mystery film night
12 September, 7.30 pm-9.30pm (Spanish Barn, Torre Abbey)
Dr John Curran presents a rarely seen Agatha Christie film. Like the identity of the murderer in the best Christie novels, the name of the film is not revealed until the last moment – when the lights go down! This event was a festival favourite last year, so be sure to book early and prepare for a surprise

Reading: Starter at 10 (FREE recurring event)
Commencing 13 September then every day til 19 September, 10.00am-10.30am
Join the festival team in the book tent to hear free live daily readings of Agatha Christie’s opening chapters. If you get hooked, you can buy the story from our pop-up Waterstones bookstore. Admission to this event in the Book Tent at Torre Abbey is free, limited seating.

Vintage Fair
13 September 13, 11am-4.30 pm
Miss Ivy Events turns Torre Abbey into a vintage wonderland with over 30 stalls throughout the house and gardens selling an eclectic range of vintage and vintage-inspired clothes, accessories, homeware and crafts from the top sellers in the South West’s vintage scene. This lively fair will be accompanied by live entertainment and music, and the ticket price includes entry to the special Agatha Christie: Unfinished Portrait Exhibition of archive photographs. Tickets available to buy online

Kate Adie on Agatha Christie and the First World War
13 September 13, 2.30 pm-3.30pm (Spanish Barn, Torre Abbey)
In her book, Fighting on the Home Front, former BBC Chief News Correspondent Kate Adie shows how women emerged from the shadows of their domestic lives during the First World War and charts the seismic move towards equal rights with men. In this illustrated talk she will explore Agatha Christie’s wartime experiences, her role as a nurse with the Voluntary Aid Detachment and the impact of the conflict and its aftermath on her generation of young women. This is history at its best – a vivid, compelling account of the women who helped win the war as well as a revealing assessment of their legacy. Tickets available to book online

Walk the Agatha Christie Mile (recurring event)
Commencing 14 September then every day til 18 September, 10am-12:30pm
Join renowned Agatha Christie expert Frank Turner for an informal walk around the bay, visiting places associated with her life and her writings. Born in Torquay on the 15 September 1890, Agatha Christie spent much of her youth and early adult life in the area, including her brief wartime honeymoon with Archie Christie. Starting at the main entrance to Torre Abbey Historic House, you will follow in her footsteps and explore places familiar to her during this formative period of her life. Tickets available to book online

Garden Tour: Dispensing Murder with Ali Marshall (recurring)
Taking place on 14, 16, 17 and 18 September, 10.45am-11.45pm
The Agatha Christie Potent Plants display at Torre Abbey contains examples of plants, some poisonous, some a little more benign, that have featured in this prolific writer’s output. Given that over half her victims were poisoned, you will be intrigued by the range of horticultural nasties on show and fascinated by this outdoor walk and talk which touches on Agatha Christie’s life, use of poisons in her stories and her fascination with the plants themselves. Tour with Torre Abbey Head Gardener, Ali Marshall Tickets available to book online

Sophie Hannah: A Game for all the Family
14 September, 11am-12noon (Spanish Barn, Torre Abbey)
Justine thought she knew who she was until an anonymous caller seemed to know better… The idea for Sophie Hannah’s new thriller, A Game For All the Family, came to her while she was researching for the first ever Hercule Poirot continuation novel and staying at Greenway, Agatha Christie’s former home in Devon. The Monogram Murders was an immediate hit and Sophie’s visit was the highlight of last year’s festival. Join her this year to hear about her experiences bringing together her personal style of contemporary psychological thriller writing with Golden Age Detective Fiction and to find out what’s coming next from this most popular and prolific of authors. Tickets available to book online

Kathryn Harkup: A is for Arsenic
14 September, 12.15pm-1pm (Spanish Barn, Torre Abbey)
Poison claims more Agatha Christie victims than any other weapon in the murderer’s arsenal. And the author’s fascination with deadly substances is further underscored by her choice of a dozen or so varieties and by her detailed knowledge of how each works. In A is for Arsenic, research chemist and Christie fan Dr Kathryn Harkup sheds extra light on how Christie gained the know-how to blend scientific fact with murderous fiction, and then goes on to reveal why certain chemicals kill, how they interact with the body, the feasibility of obtaining and administering killer drugs and the likelihood of poison detection – both at the time the novels were written and today. Tickets available to book online

Workshop for writers (recurring event)
Commencing 15 September then every day til 18 September, 10.30am-11.30am
Workshops from established authors and publishing professionals for those staying on the writers’ retreat week. Sessions are also open to day visitors, see website for more details

125th Celebration: Garden Party Luncheon
15September, 12pm-3pm
Celebrate the 125th anniversary of Agatha Christie’s birth with a garden party and buffet luncheon served in vintage style. Dress to impress and enjoy live entertainment in and around the grounds at Torre Abbey. Tickets available to book online

Agatha Christie and the BBC: From Page to Screen
15 September, 6pm-8pm (Spanish Barn, Torre Abbey) In this special 125th anniversary year the BBC has collaborated with Agatha Christie Ltd to produce a number of very special broadcast events. These include the TV series Partners in Crime featuring David Walliams and Jessica Raine as Tommy and Tuppence Beresford and a new adaptation of And Then There Were None to be seen at Christmas. Join an expert panel including producers and creative team members to explore the enduring appeal of Agatha Christie and the ways in which the work is being adapted for new audiences. Tickets available to book online

125th Birthday: Evening Celebration
15 September, 9pm-10pm
Tuesday’s birthday celebrations will conclude with a free after-dusk event in the spirit of an Edwardian Illuminated Garden, using clever lighting and cameos by actors to depict aspects of Agatha Christie’s Life, Literature and Legacy. For further information visit

Martin Edwards: The Golden Age of Murder
16 September, 12noon-1pm (Spanish Barn, Torre Abbey)
Martin Edwards is a successful and prolific crime writer. He is also Archivist of the Crime Writers Association and of the Detection Club and has written introductions to numerous Golden Age mysteries, most recently those published by The British Library in its highly successful Crime Classics series. His new book, The Golden Age of Murder, is a ground-breaking study of classic detective fiction written between the wars. Mark Lawson described it in The Guardian as “an excellent work of detection” and rather like the man himself it is “superbly compendious and entertaining.” Tickets available to book online

David Brawn: Publishing Christie and Poirot’s Little Grey Cells
16 September, 2.30pm-3.30pm (Spanish Barn, Torre Abbey)
David Brawn is the Publishing Director for Estates at HarperCollins and has been responsible for the works of Agatha Christie for nearly thirty years. In this witty and entertaining session he will talk about the curious quirks of his work that includes working with global brands as well as the immediate family members of long gone authors. He will also introduce a sneak preview of a new book that he has edited from Christie’s most popular quotes, Poirot’s Little Grey Cells, the perfect Christmas present for the Christie fan in your family. Tickets available to book online


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