Agatha Christie’s former home Winterbook House, could become a museum as Wallingford Town Council decide to apply to register the house as an asset to the community.

The former wordsmith’s home that provided inspiration for some of the greatest crime novels of the 20th Century is up for sale with a guide price in excess of £2.75m.

Member of the public Amy Smith, spoke at a Wallingford Town Council meeting praising the famous crime novelist’s work and persuading the council to apply to register the former home as a community asset.

She suggested the surrounding area could be used for bars, cafes and a shop and its grounds could be used for theatrical and arts events and celebrations both public and private.

Ms Smith said: “This is a once in a generation opportunity to acquire a beautiful house previously lived in by Agatha Christie and sympathetically cared for by subsequent residents.”

She added: “I understand that designating Winterbrook House as an asset of community value involves no expenditure or additional responsibility for the council, so I believe failing to do so would be an unfortunate mistake. This is a no-brainer.”

Ms Smith highlighted the importance of Winterbrook House for Wallingford tourism and raised the point that Agatha Christie is the second most read author in world history coming second to Shakespeare.

Agatha Christie has many links with her creativity in the town and she was also a former president of the Sinodun Players, which is the group that owns the Wallingford Corn Exchange.

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Councillor Giles Cattermole explained that applying to register the house as a community asset ‘commits’ the council to ‘nothing’ and no council money would be lost.

The council aim to create a charitable trust which would them buy Winterbrook House for the town and literary world and operate the house as an Agatha Christie centre.

However, first the council will need to have the building registered as a community asset which would need to be given to Wallingford Town Council by South Oxfordshire District Council.

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In the meeting it was also highlighted that due to the building being a residential property it is exempt from being nominated as an asset.

Owners of the property can even challenge the decision once it has been made meaning the process could be difficult.

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Councillor Marcus Harris is for applying to register the building as a community asset but does admit the ‘odds are against’ the council.

He said: “I think this is a very exciting plan. The chances of being able to raise this money are small and the odds are against us.

"We have got to go out into the community and to the Agatha Christie world. Just because things are difficult does not mean we do not have a good crack at doing them.”

Judy Dewey, curator at Wallingford Museum is also in support of applying to turn Winterbrook House into a community asset.

She said: “Wallingford Museum has raised awareness of Agatha Christie’s links with the town through its exhibitions, special events and talks, working in co-operation with the Christie Archive Trust and Agatha Christie Ltd, and will continue to do so.

"If Winterbrook House was to come into some sort of public ownership it could offer great possibilities for increasing tourism in Wallingford.”

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