Ernest Christie was born in Sunny Bank, Redhill, in 1863, into an artistic family, including his mother Ann, father David and uncle John Sands. At the age of 10, Ernest won a prize for an oil painting of a farmhouse at Nutfield, and he went on to produce many pictures of Surrey landscapes, buildings and their furnishings.
Christie exhibited paintings at the Royal Society of British Artists, Sussex Street, and at the Royal Academy. He was a member of the North British Academy, and was elected to the Royal Society of Arts in 1930.
Christie lived in east Surrey throughout his life. By 1893, he had moved to Clementsdene, Oxted, and in 1898, he moved to St Albans, Godstone Road, Caterham Valley. From 1910 to 1920, he lived at War Coppice, Caterham, before moving to Pollingfold, Ockley in 1921, where he lived until his death in 1937.
The collection of his sketchbooks held at Surrey History Centre comprise drawings in various states of completion (fully completed sketches being initialled and dated), depicting landscapes, primarily of buildings, and building interiors or details, in particular historic furniture and domestic and industrial equipment. Scenes of the following parishes are included: Bletchingley, Limpsfield, Oxted, Godstone, Caterham, Titsey, Crowhurst, Lingfield, Tandridge, Nutfield, Coulsdon, Woldingham, Horley, Purley, Chaldon, Chelsham (given as Chelsfield but probably Chelsham) and Reigate; also Westerham, Chelsfield and Brasted, Kent, and East Grinstead, Sussex.