Greenway Grotto

Greenway House
Greenway Road
near Brixham
United Kingdom
Telephone: 01803 842382

The locality was first recorded in 1493 as "Greynway", the crossing point of the Dart to Dittisham. In the late 16th century a Tudor mansion called Greenway Court was built by the Gilbert family. Greenway was the birthplace of Humphrey Gilbert. Sir Humphrey Gilbert (c.1539 - 1583) was a half-brother of Sir Walter Raleigh (they had the same mother, Catherine Champernowne). Adventurer, explorer, member of parliament, and soldier, he served during the reign of Queen Elizabeth and was a pioneer of the English colonial empire in North America and the Plantations of Ireland.

Pictures above right

1. Greenway House.
2. The remains of the greenhouse in the Camellia Garden.
3. The seated recess.
4. The entrance to the chamber with the water fountain.
5. Views of the River Dart as the paddle steamer goes by.
6. The formerly gated entrance to the Camellia Garden.
The present Georgian house was probably built in the late 18th century and extended by subsequent owners. The gardens are thought to have been remodelled by landscape gardener Humphry Repton.

The estate plan.
Greenway was bought by Agatha Christie and her husband Max Mallowan in 1938. The house was occupied by the couple until their deaths in 1976 and 1978 respectively, and featured, under various guises, in several of Christie's novels. Christie's daughter Rosalind Hicks and her husband Anthony lived in the house from 1968, until Rosalind's death in 2004. The Greenway Estate was acquired by the National Trust in 1999 and it is now a Grade II* listed building. The house and garden is open to the public, as is the Barn Gallery. The large riverside gardens contain plants from the southern hemisphere, whilst the Barn Gallery shows work by contemporary local artists.

Picture right - the interior of the grotto chamber.
The grotto as the Camellia Garden is also known by, is a gated and walled enclosure overlooking the River Dart. It dates from the days of the Spanish Armada and was constructed by Spanish prisoners of war. The structure appears to have once included a greenhouse. It now comprises a doorway and window leading to a semi-underground room with a water fountain beside the entrance. Next to it is an arched recess with a seat and pebble floor followed by the remains of what is thought to be the earlier greenhouse.

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Local map with details of the ferry service from Dartmouth.
There are several interesting options available to visit Greenway House. There is limited parking at Greenway and so there are advantages in arriving on foot. The location on the eastern side of the Dart estuary is serviced by a ferry from Dittisham on the opposite bank of the Dart. This service is frequent and ideal in that it provides a picturesque and novel approach to the Greenway estate. Cars can be left at Dittisham. Alternatively there is a ferry service from the quay at Dartmouth to get to Dittisham. An alternative journey to Greenway is by steam train and free shuttle bus from Kingswear or Paignton. You alight at Greenway Halt on the Paignton to Kingswear line. Here the shuttle bus takes you to Greenway without charge if you have a train ticket.




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Open set times only


Access on Foot, Entry Fee, Grotto - just one, Restaurant/Food, Toilets, Tourism Information


Inland Water, National Trust Property, Park or Garden, Rural


England - Southern


+Dark and mysterious chambers and cave like spaces, +Sacred spring or integral water feature, +Stunning setting and location, +Viewing points from within to an intriguing landscape outside, GRADED FOUR

(C)Copyright The Spas Research Fellowship. To contact the SRF, email: srf@thespas.co.uk or mail to: Tower House, Tower Road, Tadworth, Surrey. KT20 5QY. UK