English Heritage week-end saw Abney Hall’s interior opened for visitors, a rare event that attracted crime writer Kate Ellis and her husband Roger, who live nearby, and who invited us over to have a look at this fascinating place. The trip was, in fact, a few weeks back, but it's taken me an age to get used to downloading photos from my new camera!!
I’ve mentioned Abney before. It was once the home of Agatha Christie’s sister. She married into a very wealthy Mancunian business family, the Watts, and Agatha was a frequent visitor. The house made a huge impression on her – she featured a fictionalised version in stories like ‘The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding’ – and one can see why. Even though the building was until recently occupied by a computer firm, which has now moved out, giving it a rather bare feeling, it remains impressive.
There is plenty of stained glass window, and many fascinating features of decor – the fact it’s so noteworthy is perhaps not surprising when one knows that A.W. Pugin was primarily responsible for the design. One can easily see how Agatha’s imagination was fired by the excitement of staying in such a place.
Out in the garden is a tree under which Agatha is said to have sat for hours, dreaming up stories. Needless to say, Kate and I paid due homage to the great tree. We are both huge Christie fans, and you never know – the magic might rub off!