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Greenway has a 19th-century garden and pleasure grounds laid out in the Picturesque style, covering about 35 hectares. The garden features half-hardy plants, camellias and rhododendrons, rare and specimen trees, and wild flowers. The site is located on the east bank of the river Dart.


Steeply sloping down to the river

The following is from the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. For the most up-to-date Register entry, please visit the The National Heritage List for England (NHLE):

Early and mid 19th century pleasure grounds laid out in Picturesque style, with late 18th century walled gardens and 19th century parkland.

Location, Area, Boundaries, Landform and Setting

Greenway is situated on the east bank of the River Dart, c 1.5km south-west of Galmpton. The c 35ha site is bounded to the north-west by the foreshore beyond Greenway Road, from which it is separated by stone walls, while to the south-west and south it borders the River Dart. To the north-east and east it adjoins agricultural land or paddocks which appear to have formed part of the C19 park associated with the site. The site occupies a peninsular surrounded on two sides by the River Dart. The site slopes steeply down to the river and there are extensive views south, west, and north across the water.

Entrances and Approaches

Greenway is approached from Greenway Road, a minor road leading south-west from Galmpton to Greenway Ferry at a point c 25m north-east of Ferry Cottage. Immediately west of Hunterswood Cottage, 600m north-east of the House, the road is bounded to the south by a C19 stone retaining wall and a belt of ornamental planting, while to the north it is bounded by C19 metal estate fencing which allows glimpsed views to the River Dart.

The entrance to Greenway House from Greenway Road is marked by a pair of stone piers under pyramidal caps (formerly supporting wrought-iron gates, removed 1984) and flanked by short sections of wrought-iron railings. A picturesque single-storey stone lodge (built c 1830, extended c 1850, restored 2001, listed grade II) stands immediately north-west of the entrance, beyond which the drive extends c 250m south-south-west through mixed woodland underplanted by evergreen shrubbery affording glimpsed views north-west towards the River Dart and Dittisham. The drive then sweeps west and south-east following the peninsular to approach the House from the west. There are further views of the river from the drive.

A gravelled terrace below the south facade of the House forms a carriage turn, while c 50m west of the House a service drive leads north to reach the early C19 stables (listed grade II), service quarters, and kitchen garden. This drive rejoins the principal drive c 100m north of the House and continues north-east, crossing Greenway Road, to reach the mid C19 Laundry, now (2003) know as Hunterswood. The north drive was created by Edward Elton in 1824 when he diverted a public road from Galmpton to Greenway Ferry.

A drive also approached the site from Higher Greenway to the east. Entering the site north-west of Maypool, some 500m east of the House, the drive survives as a partly tree-lined track which enters the pleasure grounds adjacent to South Lodge, a two-storey, mid C19 stuccoed house traditionally occupied since the C19 by the head gardener. The drive curves north and passes to the east of the kitchen garden, joining the principal drive c 120m north-east of the House. The course of the east drive largely follows the line of the public road diverted by Edward Elton in 1824.

A further drive approached Greenway from Maypool Cottage to the south-east. Sections of this drive survive as a track in the park and a walk in the pleasure grounds. The drive passed through an area of parkland below, and to the south of, a picturesque stone well-house (dated 1840), which survives today (2003) in the pleasure grounds c 300m south-east of the House. The drive originally entered the pleasure grounds through an arrangement of two closely placed sets of gates supported by stone walls c 275m south-east of the House, the remains of which survive (2003), before continuing north-east to emerge onto the south lawn through a set of wrought-iron gates (removed C19). This arrangement is illustrated in the 1832 sale particulars. The south-east drive appears to have been the principal approach to Greenway in the early C19 but passed out of use during the C19 as the pleasure grounds were extended south-east into the park.

Principal Building

Greenway House (listed grade II*) comprises a three-storey central block of stuccoed rubble-stone construction under a hipped slate roof, flanked by symmetrically placed single-storey wings. The south facade of the central block is relieved by a single-storey porch supported by Tuscan columns, while the south facades of the east and west wings have loggias similarly supported by Tuscan columns. A service wing extends to the north of the central range. The main block was constructed in the late C18 by Roope Harris Roope, replacing a late C16 House, Greenway Court, which had been built on a site between the present house and the stables by Otho Gilbert. This house, which is shown next to the new mansion in a painting of c 1788 by William Payne, was demolished by Edward Elton soon after he purchased the estate in 1791. The east and west wings were built for Elton in 1815, while a further wing containing a billiard room, which was added to the east of the House in 1892, was demolished by Agatha Christie and her architect, Guilford Bell, in 1938.

Gardens and Pleasure Grounds

Extensive informal pleasure grounds are situated to the east, south, and west of the House, and on the steep slopes descending from the House and drive to the River Dart. To the west of the House an area of lawn and a C20 swimming pool are enclosed by dense thickets of bamboo and mature evergreen trees and shrubs. This lawn was laid out c 1820 (National Trust 2002). To the south, an area of lawns is planted with specimen trees and shrubs, allowing glimpsed views of the River Dart and woodland on the far bank. Below this area of lawn, which is retained by an early C19 stone-walled ha-ha, the steep south- and south-west-facing slope is terraced, perhaps indicating the re-use in the early C19 of late C16 terraces created by Sir John Gilbert, possibly by the labour of Spanish prisoners (ibid). A walk following the line of the early C19 south-east drive leads south-east from the House through an area planted with specimen trees and shrubs which was developed as a plantsman¿s garden by Richard Harvey and successive owners from the mid C19 onwards, partly in the early C19 pleasure grounds and partly on an area of parkland absorbed into the gardens by Harvey between 1851 and 1865 (OS 1886).

Subsidiary walks descend the slope through an early C20 rock garden comprising two pools and rockwork. The lower, elliptical-shaped pool perhaps re-uses the structure of an earlier icehouse (National Trust 2002). The mid C19 well-house and stone walls, perhaps surviving from a field barn formerly situated in the park, stand c 50m east of the pool. The walks descend to reach the level of the river adjacent to the early C19 bath or boathouse (listed grade II) c 300m south-east of the House. This structure comprises a stone lower storey with arched brick openings on the north, south, and west facades which contains a rectangular stone-lined plunge bath fed by a sluice from the river, with a rendered and shingled upper storey with a sitting room and open balcony facing the river. The building was formerly thatched (ibid).

A terrace retained by stone walls extends below the west and north facades of the Bathhouse, while a single-storey boathouse adjoins the structure to the east. The Bathhouse appears to be of late C18 construction and is shown on the 1791 estate survey; it is likely to correspond to the Swiss Boathouse described in the 1851 sale particulars (ibid). A walk leads c 50m north-west from the Bathhouse to reach the Battery, a structure comprising a semicircular platform enclosed by a low crenellated stone wall with extensive views north-west and south along the River Dart. The Battery appears to have been constructed in the early C19, perhaps as part of the defences of the Dart estuary during the Napoleonic wars (ibid); it is shown in its present form on the 1839 map of the estate by Grant.

From the Battery a picturesque walk leads north-west, ascending beneath rocky outcrops to allow extensive river views; the walk is enclosed on the river side by low hedges of clipped laurel, while the steep rocky slopes above the walk are planted with mixed specimen trees and shrubs. Turning west after c 150m, the walk passes above a further walk to which it is connected by overgrown steps. This lower walk retains two pairs of stone piers which appear to mark a division of unknown purpose. Above the walk further stone steps ascend to the remains of a circular summerhouse or gazebo of stone construction. The area around the summerhouse appears to have been planted as a rock garden and would formerly have enjoyed extensive views down the river.

Some 200m north-west of the Battery, the walk passes through an arched stone entrance into the Camellia Garden, an irregular-shaped stone-walled enclosure planted with an extensive collection of camellias, some perhaps of early C19 origin (ibid). The north wall contains a semicircular recess with a patterned cobbled floor and the remains of a seat and trellis arbour, while a further rectangular recess to the west corresponds to the early C19 aviary or pheasantry (Sale particulars, 1832). The south wall is lowered to allow river views, while the remains of an early C19 greenhouse or conservatory with a heated wall survive at the north-east corner of the garden. The Camellia Garden appears to have been constructed in the early C19 and is described in the 1832 sale particulars (National Trust 2002).

To the north-west of the Camellia Garden the woodland is underplanted with specimen rhododendrons, while a walk leading east towards the House and west towards Ferry Cottage is planted with a line of mature limes. Ferry Cottage (listed grade II) is situated above Greenway Quay, c 250m west of Greenway House, and comprises a stone and thatch cottage orné of early C19 construction. To the east of the cottage an approximately semicircular area of ornamental garden is enclosed by quarried scarps and woodland; this is shown in its present form on the 1839 estate map (Grant). An area of orchard shown to the south-east of the cottage on the OS map surveyed in 1865 is today (2003) planted as woodland.

There are further areas of pleasure ground to the north-west of the House and to the east and south-east of the kitchen garden. To the north of the stables c 60m north-west of the House, a rectangular walled enclosure contains a C20 hard-surfaced tennis court. The enclosure, the walls of which incorporate architectural fragments from the C16 house, is shown on the 1791 estate survey, and by 1839 (Tithe map) formed part of the stable and service area. By 1865 (OS 1886) it had been converted to use as a garden, with a glasshouse standing against the north wall, while by 1906 (OS) it had again been converted, this time into a tennis lawn. An early C20 rustic summerhouse does not survive (Sale particulars, 1938). To the west of the tennis court steps, an informal path ascends to reach the summit of this hillock, allowing wide views in all directions.

Three areas of garden are situated above and to the east of the kitchen gardens. To the north an area of level lawn is surrounded by specimen trees and shrubs. This was developed as a putting circuit for Agatha Christie in the mid C20, perhaps making use of an earlier tennis lawn (National Trust 2002). A walk continues south to reach an extensive mid C19 rock garden with the stones arranged in artificial picturesque groups divided by serpentine paths. A circular pool has a centrally placed Coalbrookdale cast-iron fountain comprising two basins and an upper jet. A group of late C20 dogs¿ graves is situated to the west of the rock garden. To the south of the rock garden a box-edged walk extends through an area planted with a collection of hydrangeas originally formed by Agatha Christie, probably replacing an early C20 rose walk (ibid). The walk continues south, becoming informal and affording extensive views of the House, and across the lower pleasure grounds and river. The walk continues c 200m east-south-east of the rockery to reach a further area of sloping grass planted with specimen shrubs.

To the north this area is bounded by a buttressed brick wall, below which a mixed border is divided into sections by the wall buttresses. To the east this wall formerly supported a mid C20 brick and timber glasshouse (removed 2002). At the north-east corner of this area of garden, and terminating the walk from the rock garden, the remains of a rectangular summerhouse of stone construction afford extensive views across the River Dart. This area, known as the Top Garden, was developed as a productive garden on land taken from the park between 1839 (Grant) and 1865 (OS 1886). The enclosing fences or hedges to the south and west have been removed since the mid C20, when this area was used as part of the commercial nursery.


The park is situated to the east and south-east of the House and pleasure grounds. The north- and north-west-facing slopes to the south-east of the principal drive comprise a series of pasture enclosures with scattered mature specimen trees. The slope ascends to Down Copse, a mixed plantation which encloses the park to the east, while to the north and north-west a mixed ornamental plantation screens the park from the drive and Greenway Road. A spur of woodland extends south to the line of the former east drive, c 50m east of South Lodge, while a further mixed belt to the south-east of South Lodge screens Maypool, a late C19 villa, and encloses a further area of park to the east of the pleasure grounds. This area is now a pasture enclosure with the remnants of a line of sycamores to the north marking the course of the east drive. The line of the late C18 south drive passes through this area.

The park was developed during the C19, in part using land to the north-east of the House which appears to have formed a C16 warren. The earliest area to have been developed as park in the early C19 appears to have been the ground to the south-east of the House adjacent to the former drive. Much of this area was taken in to the gardens and pleasure grounds by Richard Harvey in the mid C19 (OS 1886). An area of park to the north-east of the House shown on the OS map surveyed in 1865 (OS 1886) was extended eastwards in the second half of the C19.

Kitchen Garden

The kitchen garden is situated c 20m north of the House and comprises a brick- and stone-walled enclosure which is divided into two compartments of unequal area by a wall extending from east to west. The smaller, northern compartment is laid out with a central freestanding glasshouse of mid C19 origin (OS 1886), with a further early C20 glasshouse to the east. A late C19 peach house against the north wall retains the semicircular metal framework on which the peaches were trained, which was described in an article in The Garden in 1901. To the east of the glasshouses are a number of mature fig trees which in 1901 were part of a group of standard trees (The Garden 1901). The larger, southern compartment is laid to grass and against its north wall it retains an early C19 glasshouse or stove house.

Of brick and timber construction, the house has curved ends to east and west and contains planting beds and slate paving. The wall to the north is heated, while further flues run round the outer walls of the building beneath raised staging. A range of bothies and stores extends behind the stove on the south side of the northern garden compartment. The west-facing slope on the east side of the southern kitchen garden is terraced, with an herbaceous border running below the boundary wall and a line of espalier fruit trees trained on metal supports and wires above a grass slope which descends to the level of the main garden. The kitchen gardens were constructed for the Eltons between 1791 and 1832, replacing earlier enclosed gardens to the east of the House (Estate map, 1791). The 1832 sale particulars refer to 'the extensive kitchen garden of 1 acre', while the 1839 estate map (Grant) shows the gardens in their present configuration, but without the stove house. This appears to have been constructed very shortly after this date and is shown on the OS map surveyed in 1865.

Other Land

To the north of Greenway Road the steep north-facing slope descending to the River Dart is planted with mature mixed woodland. Some 300m north-north-east of Greenway House, Hunterswood, a mid C20 domestic property, is converted from the laundry built by Richard Harvey in the mid C19. A service drive leads through the pleasure grounds north and north-north-east of Greenway House to give access to the laundry. It continues north-east of the laundry through Hare Wood where it now (2003) terminates, though it formerly gave access to woodland and pasture north-west of Lower Greenway.


T Swete, Picturesque Sketches of Devon (1792)

The Garden, i (1899), p 6; i (1901), pp 395-396

Gardeners' Chronicle, i (1901), pp 169-170

C Holmes, Gardens of England in Southern and Western Counties (1907), pls 60, 61

P Hunt (ed), Payne's Devon (1986)

N Pevsner and B Cherry, The Buildings of England: Devon (2nd edn 1989), p 525

T Gray, The Garden History of Devon An illustrated guide to sources (1995), pp 113-114

Rapid Historic Landscape Assessment of Potential Car Park and Access Development at Greenway, Galmpton, Devon, (Nicholas Pearson Associates 1999)

Greenway Garden Survey, (National Trust 2002)


Plan of Part of the Barton of Greenway as Purchased by Edward Elton Esq, 1791 (private collection)

Road diversion plan, 1824 (281M/E187), (Devon Record Office)

Tithe map for Churston Ferrers parish, 1839 (Devon Record Office)

J Grant, Survey of Greenway, 1839 (1891/B P1), (Devon Record Office)

OS Surveyor's drawing, 1803 (British Library Maps)

OS 6" to 1 mile: 1st edition surveyed 1886, published 1890

2nd edition revised 1904, published 1906

OS 25" to 1 mile: 1st edition surveyed 1865, published 1886

2nd edition revised 1886, published 1890


William Payne, Greenway from the River Dart, c 1788 (reproduced in Hunt 1986)

Archival items

Sale particulars, 1832 (281M/E428), (Devon Record Office)

Bolitho estate accounts (867B), (Devon Record Office)

Papers relating to Greenway, 1860 (337B/10/76/96), (Devon Record Office)

19th century papers relating to Greenway estate (CN 1711-26), (Cornwall Record Office)

Sale particulars, 1938 (867/S27 and S33), (Devon Record Office)

Sale particulars, 1946 (547/B/3766ii), (Devon Record Office)

Description written: August 2003

Amended: January 2004; May 2004

Edited: January 2005

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts

Access contact details

01 803 842382 Open March to October, Wednesday - Sunday, 10.30 to 5pm.


Galmpton is south of Paignton on the A3022. Greenway can be accessed by ferry from Dartmouth, Brixham and Torquay.


The National Trust

Heelis, Kemble Drive, Swindon

The following is from the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. For the most up-to-date Register entry, please visit the The National Heritage List for England (NHLE):


In the late 16th century the Greenway estate belonged to Sir John Gilbert (1537-1583), the coloniser of Newfoundland (1583), who is said to have employed Spanish prisoners for the `levelling of his grounds' (quoted by Gray 1995). The estate was sold by Sir John's descendent, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, in about 1700 to Thomas Martyn, from whom it descended to Cabell Roope. Greenway was inherited in 1777 by Roope Harris, who assumed the additional surname of Roope, and who in the late 18th century rebuilt the existing house. A painting by William Payne shows both buildings (about 1788), while in 1792 the Reverend John Swete noted that a new house had been constructed and remarked that the site 'hath great natural beauties - seated high on an eminence and surrounded by groves of trees' (Swete 1792).

Roope Harris Roope sold Greenway in 1791 to Edward Elton, who probably demolished the earlier house. An estate map prepared the same year shows the two walled gardens east of the new mansion, while the Ordnance Survey (OS) surveyor's drawing of 1803 and the OS map of 1809 both show a series of improvements in the grounds. In 1832 Elton's son, James Marwood Elton offered the estate for sale, the particulars describing the extensive walled gardens, conservatory, flower gardens, cold bath, rustic gardener's house, and parkland. The estate was purchased by Sir Thomas Dimsdale, who immediately sold it on to Colonel Edward Carlyon of Tregrehan, Cornwall. The development of the landscape under Colonel Carlyon is recorded on the Tithe map (1839).

The property was again sold about 1851, first to George Fownes Luttrell of Dunster Castle, Somerset, and then to Richard Harvey, a copper magnate from Cornwall, who also made significant developments to the estate which are recorded on the OS map surveyed in 1865. Harvey died in 1870 but his widow remained in residence at Greenway until her death in 1882, when it was sold to Thomas Bolitho of Trewidden, Cornwall. Under Bolitho the pleasure grounds at Greenway were developed with extensive collections of rhododendrons, camellias, and magnolias. In 1919 Greenway was inherited by Bolitho's daughter, Mary, who was married to Charles Williams of Caerhayes Castle, Cornwall. The plant collection was enhanced by specimens obtained from Caerhayes, and from Werrington Park, Cornwall, including several original introductions from George Forrest's early 20th century expeditions to Yunnan.

Greenway was again offered for sale in 1937, and the following year was purchased by Mrs Max Mallowan, better known as the detective fiction author Agatha Christie, who had been brought up in Torquay. Agatha Christie and her husband, Professor Sir Max Mallowan, continued to develop the gardens after the Second World War with material obtained from the Veitch, Treseder, and Hillier nurseries. The gardens of Greenway feature as locations in at least two of Agatha Christie's novels, Five Little Pigs (1943) and Dead Man's Folly (1956). A commercial nursery was established in the walled gardens in 1947, managed by Christie's son-in-law, Anthony Hicks. The estate was sold to Mrs Hicks in 1959, and today (2003) the House remains in the occupation of the family, while ownership of the remaining estate passed to the National Trust in April 2000. Some areas of the registered site are in separate, private ownership.

Features & Designations


  • The National Heritage List for England: Register of Parks and Gardens

  • Reference: 5281
  • Grade: II




  • Specimen Tree
  • Vinery
  • Walk
  • House (featured building)
  • Description: The house was re-built by Roope Harris Roope. The earlier house was demolished soon after 1791.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • River
  • Description: River Dart
Key Information





Principal Building

Domestic / Residential





Open to the public