Exploring Midsomer: A Driving Tour
My Mum is a big, and I mean big, Midsomer Murders fan (Inspector Banarby for those of you on the Continent) – infact, I think she’s watched each and every episode at least twice. Even knowing ‘who dunnit‘ does not stop her. Being that die hard fans that we are (my Dad and I have no choice but to join in the charade) and having a continental visitor to stay (aka my lovely friend Laura) we set off for a tour around the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire countryside with the aim of hunting down the backdrop for the series and to see what really goes on in Midsomer..
Our first stop was Henley-on-Thames, a pretty little town on the River Thames and home to the famous Royal Regatta each year in late June/early July. Henley has often featured on the TV series as Causton and in the ‘Dead in the Water’ episode, DCI Banarby took a keen interest in the rowing. To read more about Henley, click here.
Just a short ride from Henley is the village of Nettlebed, which sits on the edge of the Chiltern Hills. As far as I know, the village itself has not been featured on the show but it made a nice stop all the same with a number of quaint cottages to admire.
From Nettlebed we meandered through the countryside passing the village of Warborough as we went. This village is often used in the series, especially in the opening credits, when you will be able to spot a number of locations including the village green, the thatched 16th century pub and a number of the village’s typically English houses.
Fifteen minutes later, we arrived in the old market town of Watlington, parked up and set off for a stroll around. Apparently, Watlington has won the title of ‘England’s Smallest Town’ and has also been used in various Midsomer Murder episodes. We also found out that it is the home to actor Jeremy Irons, who coincidentally my parents spotted on our walk around the town.
Our next stop was Thame, which also takes on the role of fictional ‘Causton’ in a number of episodes. Regular viewers of the series will recognise Thame’s town hall as Causton town hall and the town’s local markets often feature within the series. As well as the various locations in the town that were used in the series, we also came across a number of beautiful pubs and houses, with thatched roofs, trailing roses or hanging baskets brightening up the streets. After a bit of walking about we decided to have a refreshment break in the Spreadeagle Hotel, which is frequently in the backdrop for filming. This lovely hotel, which is 16th century on the outside has a cosmopolitan interior and was a pleasant place to stop for a cup of tea.
Travelling on from Thame, we wound our way through the picturesque surroundings in the direction of Wallingford. Our trip took us through the quintessential villages of the Miltons and the Haseleys – I could have spent all day photographing!
Eventually, we made it to Dorchester-on-Thames, whose medieval abbey church often plays a key role in episodes. The village’s 15th and 16th century coaching inns as well as the village post office also are filming locations.
Our last stop after Dorchester was Wallingford, which is probably the most recognisable Midsomer location and the orginal ‘Causton’. Wallingford, anther market town, is on the banks of the Thames and the town’s Market Place, bridge across the Thames and the Corn Exchange have frequently been used in many of the series’ episodes.
For any fellow die hard fans out there who fancy taking a driving tour for themselves, or for people who just want to visit these beautiful villages, I would strongly suggest having a look on the Visit Midsomer website, where a lot more information is included and a few more driving itineraries can be found.