Midsomer Murders – Part 1
Midsomer Murders is based on the novels of Caroline Graham. The original pilot programme, The Killings at Badgers Drift, was aired on 23rd March 1997 and the four episodes of the first full series in 1998, Written in Blood, Death of a Hollow Man, Faithful Unto Death and Death in Disguise, were based on her books. Elizabeth Spriggs was a leading actor in the first episode and she is buried in St Mary’s Churchyard, Thame.
There have now been well over 100 episodes. John Nettles played Barnaby for the first 81 episodes, stepping down in 2011 at the end of series 13. Neil Dudgeon has played DCI Barnaby ever since. Thame has been featured in 15 episodes, in some only briefly but in others, such as Picture of Innocence and Vixen’s Run, it features heavily. A recent episode features Thame’s Prebendal House and nearby cricket ground.
Start Point – Thame Museum, 79 High Street, Thame, OX9 3AE.
The walking trail lasts an hour and a quarter and features all the locations used around the town centre.
Stop 1 – Thame Museum
Thame Museum was used for the interior scenes of Causton Museum in Secrets and Spies. An object, an animal’s skull, is suspected as the murder weapon (not one of the museum’s exhibits!). Causton Museum is broken into and is investigated by DC Jones who flirts with the Curator, Amanda Watson.
Thame Museum was originally built in 1864 as the County Court House. It was converted into a magistrate’s court in 1984 and finally became the town’s museum in 2005.
Leave the Museum, turn left, cross Bell Lane and walk along the High Street
Stop 2 – Wills & Trusts, 91-92 High Street
The offices of Wills & Trusts (next to the Book House) were used as a solicitor’s offices in The Oblong Murder
Walk along the High Street towards the town Centre. You will see a large red brick building facing you at the top of the High Street Car park. This is Thame Town Hall.
Stop 3 – Thame Town Hall
In Days of Misrule Thame Town Hall appears in the Christmas scene, with Joyce Barnaby singing carols round the Christmas tree outside Causton Town Hall. The Town Hall was again used as Causton Town Hall in Shot at Dawn and became Causton Arts Centre in The Maid in Splendour. Across from the Town Hall, Connells Estate Agents appears as Causton Bookies, in a sub-plot of the same episode.
There has been a building on the site of the Town Hall since 1509. The current building was built in 1887, using local brick, to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria.
Walk around the left hand side of the building. At the end of the Town Hall, on your left you will see Tim Russ & Company Estate Agents.
Stop 4 – Tim Russ & Company
In The House in the Woods Tim Russ & Company Estate Agents became Harriet Davis’ Estate Agency. Harriet Davis is involved in a plot to acquire a derelict building in the woods. However, it doesn’t end well for Harriet.
The partly pedestrian street to the left of the Town Hall is Buttermarket.
Walk along the Buttermarket
Stop 5 – Buttermarket
Like the Town Hall, Buttermarket appears in many episodes. In the opening sequences of Vixen’s Run, the whole length of Buttermarket is dressed for the 1953 Coronation. A woman is seen riding a horse along the road. She is on her way to meet a lover. In Picture of Innocence the Buttermarket is turned into a street market where Barnaby is kissed by a woman – a complete stranger – an incident which is phototgraphed, in a picture which forms a plot line. In Midsomer Life, a tipsy barmaid from the Morecroft Hotel (the Spread Eagle) is seen staggering along Buttermarket. In Dead in the Water, Jones and Barnaby are seen taking coffee with Hattie Trent at the end of Pump Lane.
Continue along the Buttermarket to The Coffee House.
Stop 6 – The Coffee House
In Picture of Innocence, Barnaby is sitting in the Coffee House looking at the picture of him kissing a woman. He notices faintly in the background the sign on the health food shop called Now and Zen – actually the side entrance to what is now the White Stuff.
Continue walking to the top of the Buttermarket.
Stop 7 – Pretty Like Pictures
At the top of Buttermarket, Pretty Like Pictures appears in Picture of Innocence as Quikpix, the digital photography shop and major rival to Madrigal’s camera shop. Jones talks to the owner about photographs of a glamour model.
Cross the road by the zebra crossing and go left along North Street to Kew Bookbinding.
Stop 8 – Kew Bookbinding
Kew Bookbinding’s premises feature as a printing shop in Blood Wedding. Barnaby has forgotten to pick up the order of service cards for his daughter’s wedding. The shop is closed and Jones tries to force entry with a credit card.
Now turn around and walk back to Montesson Square.
Stop 9 – Montesson Square
Montesson Square features in a panoramic shot during the title sequence at the beginning of Picture of Innocence, ending outside Madrigal’s camera shop – now Rumsey’s Chocolaterie.
Walk over to Market House, today home to the CAB.
Stop 10 – Market House, Montesson Square
Market House became the offices of the local newspaper, Midsomer Life, in the episode of the same name. When the murderer (a lady) was arrested, she was actually led from the building via the public toilets. Market House was also Causton Library in Vixen’s Run.
Market House was built in the eighteenth century and, over the years, has been a baker’s shop, an inn, and a Methodist chapel. Market House today houses a Citizens’ Advice Bureau and, in the same building, public toilets.
Diagonally opposite Market House is Rumsey’s Chocolaterie. Walk to it.
Stop 11 – Rumsey’s Chocolaterie
In Picture of Innocence, Madrigal’s camera shop was what is now Rumsey’s Chocolaterie. At the time of filming, the shop was empty as it was changing from having been Jordan’s Delicatessen to become Rumsey’s Chocolaterie. Madrigal’s was a traditional photographic shop in the village of Luxton Deeping, and the owners were bitter rivals of Quikpix, a digital camera shop in a neighbouring village. Today you can stop and have a ‘Barnaby Bun’ here.
Next to Rumsey’s Chocolaterie you will see the entrance to Jordan’s Yard.
Stop 12 – Jordan’s Yard
In Vixen’s Run, Barnaby is seen turning into Jordan’s Yard to visit a solicitor’s office. The woman who was riding along Buttermarket goes to see the solicitor regarding her late husband’s estate. There is a break-in at these offices and, later still, the solicitor dies in a fire at his cottage.
Continue along until you reach The Swan Hotel.