Grantchester, the TV series
For lovers of the whodunnit genre in a historical setting, the Grantchester TV series is an absolute delight. The sequel is based on the Grantchester Mysteries by James Runcie.
This detective series is set in the fifties of the last century. The spirit of the times is, I think (because not yet born) well captured in the series, including the undisguised racism, homophobia and sexism of inspector Geordie Keating. The village vicar, Sidney Chambers, assists the inspector in various murder cases while trying to keep him on the right moral track.
But even the honourable Sydney struggles at times with his calling. Alcohol, jazz and women are his biggest pitfalls.
Grantchester, a historic village near Cambridge
The series is set in Grantchester. The town is located near the university city of Cambridge. And the great thing is that the place looks exactly like on television. The church of St. Andrew & St. Mary, the Blue Ball Inn, the cricket fields and the meadows next to the Cam River regularly feature in the film. It is easy to recognize the thatched roofs, half-timbered houses and the exterior of the vicarage.
From Grantchester, it is a smooth 20 minutes walk along the river Cam to the centre of Cambridge. Herons, swans and probable punters will keep you company. Follow the sign river walk.
Parts of old Cambridge, such as King’s College, the Mill (pub) and the narrow cobblestone streets are recurring parts of the set. In short, walking through the village and its surroundings is a celebration of recognition. At least if you follow the series.
But even if you’re not glued to the TV, Grantchester is a nice trip if you happen to stay in Cambridge for a few days. The medieval buildings, nature and the many pubs make this an attractive place. Moreover, the village is said to have the world’s highest concentration of Nobel Prize winners. Most of which are probably current or retired academics from the nearby University of Cambridge.
Cast Grantchester series
James Norton plays the pastor in the first four seasons. He is not only pleasant to look at, but James is also perfect for this role for several reasons. Apart from drama in London, he also studied theology at Cambridge University. In the fifth and final season, Tom Brittney (as Will Davenport) takes over the role of the vicar. He also falls into the ‘eye candy’ category.
Robson Green, the adulterous veteran in this series, is inspector Geordie Keating. I know him from my last time I long ago lived in England, from Soldier Soldier.
Since the sixth (and final?) season is being recorded at the moment, In the fall of 2020, you will have a chance to bump into the cast at Grantchester. This will be broadcasted on television in 2021. If you have missed an episode check ITV or Amazon.
Pubs, restaurant and B&B’s in Grantchester
Grantchester has 606 inhabitants (source). With five businesses in the hospitality business, this is probably the highest pub/resident ratio in England.
On bank holidays and during the weekend the place can get crowded. If possible, go during the week.
Blue Ball Inn, pub, B&B and restaurant
The Blue Ball Inn has been a pub for 250 years, making it the oldest pub in Grantchester. In the winter, enjoy your ale by the crackling fire. In the summer have a Gin & Tonic on the terrace overlooking the meadows. Lunch costs around ten pounds. The Blue Ball Inn has two bedrooms.
If the Blue Ball Inn has no place to spend the night, head to neighbouring Trumpington:
- Anstey Hall, a monumental (squat) country house.
- The Lord Byron Inn, a pub and B&B from the 17th century.
Green Man, music and so on
The Green Man was a typical British Pub, with pub grub, ales and live music on weekends. It is closed since January 2020, but it is expected that it soon will re-open under a different name.
Orchard Tea Garden for afternoon tea
The Orchard Tea Garden is the ideal place for your afternoon tea. Reservations are necessary.
Rupert Brooke, lunch with a view
The Rupert Brooke is different from the other places mentioned above. The restaurant has a modern feel to it. The rooftop terrace is a great place to have lunch on a sunny day.
Red Lion, also for children
The Red Lion has a thatched roof. Muddy boots, dogs and children are welcome. There is a playground at the back of the garden.