Devon can claim its fair share of citizens who have had an impact on the world. From musicians like Chris Martin to sports people such as Tom Daley and explorers like Captain Scott to artist Damien Hirst. They all have or have had roots in Devon. But is it possible to visit the homes of famous people in Devon?
Unsurprisingly, today’s celebs prefer to keep their private residences and holiday bolt holes under wraps (unless they’re Kirstie Allsopp – she’d love you to come and stay in her Homemade Home in North Devon).
But for the naturally curious, among you there is still a chance to nosy around the homes of a few Devon personalities.
Agatha Christie’s Greenway
Greenway is a Georgian-built house that the Queen of Crime bought before the Second World War. However, there’s a lot more history to the Greenway estate, which was once owned by Sir Francis Drake’s family among others. More on Drake later.
Christie’s main residence was just down the road in Torquay. But when Greenway came up for sale she fell in love with it. It become somewhere she called ‘the loveliest place in the world’.
Christie filled her beloved house with curiosities and finds from her husband’s archeological digs, as well as collections of first editions of her own books.
Now looked after by the National Trust, Greenway stands as a fabulous memorial to her literary prowess and his expeditions.
For children there are two house trails: one themed around the animals to be found among the trinkets and another which challenges kids to spot items on Agatha’s packing list for an expedition with her husband.
Outside there’s a garden trail, lawn games and a walk down to the boat house.
Find out more about visiting Greenway.
Sir Francis Drake’s Buckland Abbey
Sir Francis Drake has to be one of the most famous people from Devon when it comes to historic figures.
He bought Buckland Abbey after liberating the Spanish of a haul of booty. It is located on the edge of beautiful Dartmoor in Devon, not far from Drake’s birthplace of Tavistock. It was also within easy reach of Plymouth from where he embarked on many of his expeditions in the name of Queen Elizabeth I.
As its name suggests, this historic Devonian residence was once a monastery. King Henry VIII was responsible for its demise and handed it over to one of his favoured noblemen.
Over the centuries it was adapted into a home. But hints of its former purpose remain, such as the outlines of vaulted ceilings on the external walls.
The Abbey is now looked after by the National Trust. Children can roam the orchard, dash around the lawn and dress up in Tudor style in the attic exhibition.
Find out more about visiting Buckland Abbey.
The D’Oyly Carte family’s Coleton Fishacre
Theatre fans will know that the D’Oyly Carte family were big in the operatic world and brought Gilbert and Sullivan plays to the stage. Coleton Fishacre was built as their Devon retreat in the 1920s and would have been the setting for lavish parties.
Their Art Deco country house and subtropical valley gardens were entrusted to the National Trust in the 1980s.
Much of the furniture and fittings are not original to the D’Oyly Carte period but have been recreated or sourced, even down to the French designed curtains and art deco furniture.
There’s also plenty of interactive activities to keep kids amused. Go to the handling room to find trinkets, clothes and jewellery that can be touched and tried on.
There’s always something in bloom in the formal gardens near the house and the wilder landscape closer to the South West Coast Path. We can recommend Coleton’s gardens for the children’s trails (pick one up in reception), its den building area and amazing coast views.
Find out more about visiting Coleton Fishcare.
More famous people from Devon
Devon’s rich and famous of today prefer to enjoy the privacy of their West Country retreats (I can’t say I blame them). But maybe you’ll spot them while out on a coast walk or while visiting one of the county’s many family attractions.
Keep those eyes peels for:
- Property and homemaking expert Kirstie Allsopp lives in North Devon
- BBC sports presenter and former tennis star Sue Barker was born in Paignton
- Muse front man Matt Bellamy is from Teignmouth
- Celebrity chef Michael Caines lives in Exeter
- Supermodel and entrepreneur Lily Cole is from Torquay
- Driver and TV presenter Tom Daley was born in Plymouth
- Footballer Dan Gosling was born in Brixham
- Comedian Miranda Hart was born in Torquay
- Artist Damien Hurst has a house in Combe Martin
- British boxing champion Tommy Langford was born in Barnstaple
- Coldplay’s front man Chris Martin who was born near Exeter
- Model and TOWIE reality TV star Lauren Pope was born in Torquay
- Actor and comedian Jennifer Saunders has a home in Chagford
Have you spotted a Devon celeb? Even better, have you visited their home?! I’m all ears!
Got a while to stay? Here’s our BIG guide to family holidays in Devon.