Season 13

  • Midsomer Murders History Header Public Footpaths

    Public Footpaths

    (Caution: Contains spoilers for Episodes: 02×03: Dead Man’s Eleven, 09×02: Dead Letters, 13×01: The Sword of Guillaume, and 14×04: The Oblong Murders)


    The Barnaby family are looking for a new place to live in Fletcher’s Cross and have a bite to eat in the Queen’s Arms, outside, in the garden. As they leave the pub, they are approached by Zelda Frasier. She is collecting signatures for the petition of the Fletcher’s Cross Ramblers Association, who are fighting for the right of way through Robert Cavendish’s estate. It’s a public footpath, but the landlord has blocked off part of it without permission.

    Nothing that would only happen recently or only in Midsomer. A little later we learn that green oak branches are a very important symbol of the right of villages to walk in the woods and on public footpaths. This is the basis of the Midsomer Barton Oak Festival.


    Rights of way

    „What is a right of way? A right of way is a path that anyone has the legal right to use on foot, and sometimes using other forms of transport.“ (Source: Open Spaces Society)

    The Fletcher’s Cross Ramblers Association is not unique. In fact, there are associations such as the Open Spaces Society (OSS) in Barnaby Land, which works from Henley-on-Thames to ensure that public footpaths remain public. The responsibility for maintaining and recording public rights of way lies with local authorities.

    Public footpaths have often existed for centuries, if not millennia, linking villages to villages and villages to markets or places of worship. Often the age of the path can be determined by the places it connects. Furthermore, a footpath that is well below the present ground level is often an ancient trackway from the Neolithic, Bronze or Iron Ages. They also tend to follow the lie of the land.

    If, on the other hand, the path is not near a wood, but there are bluebells, dog’s mercury, primroses, old trees or stumps, it is a sign that the path dates from the Anglo-Saxon period and that a wood has been cleared.


    Munden Estate

    Munden House
    Brian Smith: Munden House. CC BY-SA 2.0.

    The real Cavendish Estate is the Munden Estate in Hertfordshire and, yes, there are indeed 6 mi (10 km) of public footpaths. A third of these are permissive footpaths. They link Aldenham with Bricket Wood and form part of the path between St Albans and Watford, whose histories are intertwined. In the 12th century the Abbot of St Albans was granted a market as lord of the manor. This was the origin of Watford.

    The footpaths that run through the Munden Estate probably date from the same period. By this time there was already a building here called Meriden, which belonged to the Abbey of St Albans until the Dissolution of the Monasteries. It was first mentioned in 1097 and “it is believed that the estate was acquired by Robert de Meriden and that Munden is a derivation of his name“. Monks might have stopped here on their way to or from Watford.

    The settlement is even older, however, as the remains of a Roman villa have been found here.

    The present house was built in 1795 and has been owned by the Hibbert family since 1828. Listed as a National Heritage Site since 12th August 1985, the manor was the setting not only for Cavendish House. But is was also used for also for Mr Toad’s, er, Freddie Butler’s Haddington Hall (09×03: Vixen’s Run), Edward Milton’s house (13×02: The Made-by-Measure Murder) and Germaine Troughton’s house (19×03: Last Man Out).


    Illegal restrictions on public footpaths in other episodes

    Similarly in Midsomer Parva, where the right of way is stopped by Hugh Dalgleish, and the Oblong Society in Midsomer Malham.

    First, Midsomer Parva: We first hear of it in the town hall in Causton, where Hugh Dalgleish, unloved by everyone, has just entered the room. Tom Barnaby is patted vehemently by Lucy Terry, who sits behind him and startles him. She demands to know if the DCI has spoken to Hugh Dalgleish, who, like Cavendish, has no interest in anyone trespassing on his property.

    Tom Barnaby tries to calm and end the situation, clearly not wanting to have this discussion here and now. He points at Ben Jones, who is sitting next to him.

    The issue of the right of way comes up in passing a few times in the episode. And the dispute between Terrys and Dalgleish is only resolved indirectly in the episode, as Hugh Dalgleish is one of the murder victims in the episode. Who inherits his estate is not addressed in the episode.

    And in Midsomer Malham, the bizarrely shady Oblong Society blocks a public footpath through the grounds of Malham Manor. The society has acquired the property through one of its members, Ruth Lambert. Various dog owners still use the path to a certain extent, including dog sitter Millie Bullard, George Bullard’s sister.

    John Barnaby has just come to collect Sykes from his first day with her. They are both standing in the garden watching Sykes run around and mess up the other dogs.



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    • Header Midsomer Murders History Boxing Bare-knuckle fight

      Sports History in Midsomer, pt. 1: Boxing

      (Caution: Contains spoilers for Episode: 13×06: The Noble Art)


      Cricket is played in many episodes – even actively by Sergeants Gavin Troy and Ben Jones – but unfortunately the history of cricket is never discussed, and football is completely absent. However, there are mentions of historical events in three other sports, each involving very successful Midsomer County sportsmen: chess, Formula 1 and boxing. See: Sports History in Midsomer, pt. 2.


      Loseley House
      Loseley House in June 2023, by Petra Tabarelli. Public Domain.

      The latter is the subject of this article. And we begin – how could we not in Midsomer – with a re-enactment of the famous boxing match between Tom Sayers of England and John Heenan of the USA on the grounds of Midsomer Morchard.

      Not even Tom Barnaby knew that this famous bare-knuckle fight took place here, but his friend Gerald Farquaharson, a justice of the peace and ex-boxer, tells him, to Tom’s astonishment, that it did. Here outside Morchard Manor. Queen Victoria was not present, although she would have been interested, but the famous authors Charles Dickens and William Makepeace Thackeray were.


      Illegal but aristocratic patronage

      This suggests that Midsomer Morchard is on the border of another county, as it was common in those days to hold the illegal prize-fights close to the border. This allowed spectators to cross the border quickly and escape the threat of jurisdiction.

      But how did this fascination with a sport that was not even legal, but classified as an affray, an assault and a riot, come about? How did a sport become a sport of, yes, brawling? Pugilism became socially acceptable around 1700. From 1698 there were pugilistic contests which, despite their illegality, took place in London’s Royal Theatre. One of the prizefighters, James Figg, attracted so much attention and enthusiasm that he was crowned champion of England and remained so for 15 years (1719-1734).

      Jack Broughton was one of Figg’s pupils and is credited with laying the foundations for boxing to become an accepted and respected sport: He set the first rules (1743) and enjoyed aristocratic patronage. This may have something to do with the fact that by the 1800s it had become unfashionable to carry swords and other deadly weapons used in duels.

      In any case, the English aristocracy’s interest in and patronage of prizefighters increased when the lightweight Daniel Mendoza thrilled and fascinated them with his style of fighting – speed rather than strength.

      The peculiarity of Broughton’s rules was that the fight was divided into rounds, with half a minute’s rest between rounds. The rules also provided for a referee.

      This added a degree of order and fairness to the fight, which continued to be fought without gloves, without weight divisions and without a maximum duration. Also, under Broughton’s rules, it was still permitted to wrestle and punch an opponent after throwing or hitting him on the canvas.


      Wrestling allowed

      Tom Sayers, champion of England, 1860. Public Domain.

      Regency England was the height of British boxing. The aristocracy loved the sport more and more and although it was still illegal, police raids were no longer carried out with the utmost severity, but very laxly. In fact, even the King, George IV, was a great supporter of boxing and asked some famous prizefighters to act as his bodyguards at his coronation.

      In 1838, 17 years after his coronation, a new set of rules was introduced, the revised 1853 version of which was still in force at the time of the Sayers-Heenan fight:

      The London Prize Ring Rules were a set of 29 rules initiated by the British Pugilists’ Protective Association. After the Broughton Rules and Daniel Mendoza’s fighting style, they were another cornerstone of boxing’s move towards legality.

      Wrestling was still allowed, as were spiked shoes (within limits) and holding and throwing an opponent. They were still bare-knuckle fights, i.e. without the use of gloves.


      Limited brutality

      New was the size of the boxing ring, 24 feet or 7.32 metres square, bounded by two ropes. And although wrestling and spiked shoes were still allowed, the new rules limited the brutality somewhat. Fouls included kicking, gouging, head butting, biting, low blows, scratching, hitting while the opponent was down, holding the ropes and using resins, stones or hard objects.

      The fight had several rounds, but there was no maximum number of rounds or duration. It lasted until one of the opponents could no longer fight. That is, if he could not get to the scratch, the starting position at a marker in the centre of the ring, within 38 seconds without help.

      No points were awarded, but the fighters could agree to a draw with the referee. Other possible reasons for a stoppage were crowd disturbances, police interference, harassment or simply because night had fallen and nothing could be seen.


      42 Rounds

      Sayers Heenan
      Painting by artist and former boxer Jim Ward of the fight for the “Championship of England and America” between Thomas Sayers and John C. Heenan in 1860. Public Domain.

      The fight between Brighton’s Tom Sayers and the American John Heenan was regarded as the first world championship in boxing and attracted a level of publicity that boxing in England had never seen before. The New York Times of 31 March 1860 reported that several members of Parliament were among the spectators, as well as the aristocracy and many of London’s literary, artistic and sporting celebrities. Transport from London was provided by the North Western Railways. And yet boxing was illegal.

      It is true, by the way, that the writers Charles Dickens and William Makepeace Thackereray were among the spectators, as Farquaharson mentions. So were the then Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston, and the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII.

      The match started at 7.30am on 17 April 1860 and lasted two hours and 10 minutes. Sayers was the favourite, having won twelve out of fifteen bouts. Heenan, on the other hand, was celebrated in the USA as a successful, powerful boxer, but he had only fought in two prizefights – and lost both. Everything looked relatively straightforward, but Heenan managed to knock his opponent down in the third and fourth rounds, perhaps because Sayers was facing the sun. Then, in the sixth, Sayers’ right arm was so badly injured that he had to fight with one hand for over an hour. In the seventh round he managed to punch Heenan several times in the eye, which then swelled up.


      An abrupt end

      Then, in the 37th round, Heenan pushed Sayers’ neck against the top rope, almost illegally choking him. The ropes were then lowered to save Sayers’ life. Normally, when the ropes came down, the fight was over and the crowd poured in. There was a hell of a pandemonium – well, not unusual for Midsomer County, was it?

      Anyway, the referee wanted to stop the fight and declare it a draw, but the opponents were having none of it. So the ring was moved a few yards to the side and the fight continued.

      However, in the 42nd round, the fight was stopped when police were spotted on the sidelines and the fight was declared a draw. Both fighters were awarded championship belts. Sayers never fought again.


      The Noble Art…

      “As soon as the Englishman had brought the use of his fists to a ‘science’ – or, perhaps, as he preferred to call it, to ‘the noble art of self-defense’ – he began to look upon the use of the knife as cowardly, as a practice utterly beneath his contempt. And so it came to pass in due time that among foreign nationalities the fists of the ready Englishman were always more to be dreaded than the murderous knife of the desperado.” (Source: Frederick W. Hackwood: Old English Sports. London 1907. P. 198-199.)


      This was not the end of the story, however, as controversy and animosity continued for weeks. The British saw Sayers in the lead, the US raged that Heenan was ahead. Deliberately tipped off about the location of the fight, the police ensured it would be stopped, robbing Heenan of his victory.

      Iain Manson investigated both the newspaper reports and the controversy a few years ago and concluded that Heenan was probably very close to winning.

      The re-enactment at Morchard Manor was to be a different story: Not only did Queen Victoria – portrayed by Joyce Barnaby – attend the battle and unveil Libby Morris’ Sayers sculpture.

      No, newly crowned world champion John Kinsella was to play Sayers, and Justice of the Peace Farquaharson’s son Sebastian was to play John Heenan. And, of course, the plan was for Kinsella to win as Sayers.


      … but make it more midsomer-y

      Loseley Park Estate
      The view from the entrance of Loseley House to the north, June 2023. By Petra Tabarelli. Public Domain.

      In fact, the re-enactment ended with a mix-up, with Ken Tuohy standing in front of Kinsella instead of Sebastian. He is the sculptor’s husband and she is cheating on him with John Kinsella. Yes, a typical Midsomer-ish mess and probably this fight would have been pro Tuohy-Heenan had Gerald Farquaharson not intervened.

      Yes, the battle between Sayers and Heenan did take place, but not in Midsomer County, but in a field near Farnborough in north-east Hampshire and the Surrey border – and 10 miles / 16 km from the filming location: Loseley House, mentioned in the Domesday Book as “loosely” held by Torald. The present building is also of Elizabethan date and has been little altered externally since its construction in the 1560s. Stones from Waverley Abbey, which fell into ruin after the Dissolution of the Monasteries, were used in its construction – and it was itself a recurring film set for Midsomer Murders episodes, for example St Frideswide Abbey, but also as the abandoned monastery of Monks Barton.


      • Hackwood, Frederick W.: Old English Sports. London 1907.
      • Manson, Iain. The Lion and the Eagle. Cheltenham 2008.


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      • Header Midsomer Murders History Sword of Guillaume

        The Sword Of Guillaume

        (Caution: Contains spoilers for Episode: 13×01: The Sword of Guillaume)


        To begin with, there is a disappointment: The Sword of Guillaume mentioned in the episode is as fictitious as Sir Richard Guillaume himself. And there is no connection between the Battle of Hastings and Brighton.

        I could end this article with that, but the Battle of Hastings was real, and there are small, subtle mentions and connections to Midsomer. And so there is this article.


        Guillaume’s greatest butchery

        We are in Lady Mathilda William’s manor in Midsomer Parva. Tom Barnaby is here because Lady Matilda, who owns most of Midsomer Parva, fired a shotgun blast through the windscreen of the Mayor of Midsomer, David Hicks, who went straight to Barnaby’s house to complain about her.

        Battle of Hastings
        The battlefield seen from the north. Public Domain.

        Tom Barnaby, however, is quite gentle and dislikes David Hicks as much as she does. For Tom Barnaby has not yet forgotten and forgiven the Mayor for not only not wanting to fix his roof, but for succeeding in his corrupt machinations.

        But we are not there yet, we are in Lady Mathilda’s mansion, piano music is playing in the background. The lady receives the DCI.

        Tom Barnaby is about to give his gentle, mild admonition, but the lady keeps interrupting him and obviously isn’t listening. Instead, she launches into a sort of interrogation, asking him about William the Conqueror and the Battle of Hastings. The policeman answers correctly, but clearly hasn’t heard of Richard Guillaume. So he is enlightened:

        Guillaume was William the Conqueror’s man in charge of making sure the population submitted to William, the future King of England – and anyone who didn’t was killed by Guillaume’s sword.

        The sword became a symbol of English hatred of the French, especially in Brighton, where it seems many people wanted to submit to Richard Guillaume and the Normans and paid with their lives.

        Richard Guillaume was the ancestor of Lady Mathilda William’s husband, as she mentions with disgust. Williams – English for Guillaume.


        Relatives – an inherent evil?

        Battle of Hastings
        Army movements before Battle of Hastings, 1066. Public Domain.

        As Tom Barnaby mentions in the dialogue, the Battle of Hastings took place in 1066. It was the last in a series of battles fought after the death of the childless English king Edward the Confessor. Edward had provided for his succession before his death, but only in two ways: First, he had promised his great-nephew William, Duke of Normandy, in the 1040s or 1050s, but on his deathbed he is said to have yielded to the opposition of the Anglo-Saxon nobility and appointed Harald Godwinson as his successor. Harald was the son of the very influential nobleman Godwin of Wessex.

        Earlier, during his reign (1042-1066), Edward had reformed the English kingdom into a centralised Norman-style administration and filled key positions with Normans. Much to the protest of the Anglo-Saxon nobility.

        The dispute was not only between Harald Godwinson and Duke William of Normandy, but also with the Norwegian king, Harald Hardråde, who was supported by Tostig. Tostig was Harald Godwinson’s brother. And while the two brothers, England and Norway respectively, fought several battles, the Norman Duke William seized the opportunity. While the other contenders were fighting at Stamford Bridge near York (not to be confused with the football stadium in London!) and Harald Godwinson was winning the decisive victory, William arrived in the south of England at Hastings. Harald marched south while William sacked the city.


        A day in Hastings, 1066

        Battle of Hastings
        Position of troops at the start of the Battle of Hastings. By Andrein. CC-BY SA 3.0.

        Then, on 14 October 1066, the Battle of Hastings was fought. It lasted from 9am until dark – which must have been between 5pm and 6pm – and was a bloodbath for the Anglo-Saxons in particular, and the day of Harald Godwinson’s death. The two armies were similar in numbers, as were the casualties on both sides, but the Norman army was made up of trained knights, while the Anglo-Saxon army was still a people’s army with many peasants from ancient times.

        At first, however, it did not look like a Norman victory, as the Anglo-Saxon army formed a shield wall on Senlac Hill that could not be breached. Consciously or unconsciously, however, the rumour spread that William of Normandy had fallen. So the Normans retreated, and some Anglo-Saxons left the parapet and chased after them. But then came the news: William was alive! The Normans stormed back, using the holes in the Anglo-Saxon ramparts to throw them into confusion and then fought hand-to-hand for hours. By late afternoon or evening, Harald Godwinson must have been mortally wounded.

        After the battle, the Normans were anything but accommodating and fair, refusing to allow the Anglo-Saxon family members to bury their loved ones. Only Harald Godwinson is said to have been buried after his widow identified him.


        The Battle Abbey

        The Norman dead were buried in a mass grave which has never been found. But it is thought that Battle Abbey was built over the mass grave and thus directly on the former battlefield 7 miles (11 km) north of modern Hastings, whose original Saxon settlement was moved a few miles after the battle.

        William had the abbey built during his lifetime. During the Dissolution of the Monasteries it was dissolved and given to secular landowners who used the building as a residence. In 1976, with the help of some American donors, it was bought by the government and is now managed by English Heritage.

        Duke William of Normandy moved north after the battle, crossing the Thames at Wallingford (Causton in Midsomer County) and then travelling along the Chiltern Hills (where many episodes of Midsomer Murders were filmed) to London. At Westminster he was crowned King of England by Ealdred on Christmas Day 1066. The new capital of the Kingdom of England became London (previously it had been Winchester).


        The Battle of Hastings: A Crusade?

        William of Normandy was a devout man, or at least he knew how to use the Roman Catholic Church to his advantage. William himself had the stigma of being an illegitimate child because his father, Richard II, was a polygamist and his mother was not married to him – this was not uncommon under “more danico”, Danish Viking law. The Dukes of Normandy were descended from the Scandinavian dynasty of the Rollonids, who had been Dukes of Normandy since 911. Here is the link between the Britons and the Normans: in 1002 the British Anglo-Saxon king Æthelred II married Emma, the sister of Richard II. Emma, sister of Richard II, Duke of Normandy.

        When Richard II died in 1035, his son was only seven or eight years old. Edward was not yet on the English throne and was still living in Normandy. He saw the power of the underage and illegitimate king in Normandy being taken away from him. In the early 1040s, Edward became king and William was knighted. William tried to regain his lost rights – he was successful, but there was always trouble. By 1054, Edward was back in Normandy and it was probably at this time that he promised William the English throne.

        Whether it was a reaction to his illegitimate birth that William was so pious and moral and interested in the welfare of the Norman Church, we do not know. But he was a champion of the Church, campaigning against simony and clerical marriage.

        Before going to England, he approached the Pope and pointed out that Harald Godwinson’s commitment to the Church was lacking. The Pope gave his blessing to William’s campaign to England – almost a crusade, or at least a Christian mission.


        No Sir Richard Guillaume, no sword

        Bayeux Tapestry
        HAROLD REX INFECTVS EST – King Harold was killed – it says on this detail (number 57) of the Bayeux Tapestry, commissioned by William’s half-brother, the Bishop Odo of Bayeux after the Battle of Hastings. He became the Earl of Kent.

        Guillaume and Richard were common Norman names of the time, but no Richard Guillaume can be found. There were only men in William of Normandy’s armada called either Richard or William/Guillaume.

        So far I have found

        • Guillaume, Comte d’Évreux (of the Rollonid dynasty, died 1118).
        • Guillaume de Crépon (William FitzOsbern), seneschal of the duke, from 1067 1st Earl of Hereford, died 1071
        • Guillaume de Warenne (William de Warenne), 1st Earl of Surrey, 1088 Founder of the House of Warenne, died 1088
        • Guillaume Malet (William Malet), Lord of Graville, founder of the House of Malet, died c. 1071
        • Richard de Bienfaite, founder of the House of Clare, died 1090
        • Richard Goz, Viscount of Avranches, founder of the House of Conteville
        • Guillaume de Percy (William de Percy), founder of the Percy family, died between 1096 and 1099


        Sir Richard’s chapel

        In the episode, Sir Richard Guillaume slaughtered the people of Brighton with a sword when they resisted the Norman takeover. He then had a church built in Brighton. Tom Barnaby meets the Reverend Giles Shawcross, who is resigned to no longer having to say mass here. While Tom Barnaby asks him about Hugh Dalgleish and Lady Mathilda, he is only interested in the historical sign on the side of the church entrance. He points to the inscription, which says that the chapel was built by Richard de Guillaume in 1069.

        „Welcome to St Peter’s. Dedicated to the Seaman and Fisherman of the South Coast Throughout the Ages. St. Peter’s was originally built in 1069 by Richard Guillaume of Normanny who was given the land now known as Brightoon and Hove by William the Conqueror. The Original church was built…“.

        The text on the wall of the chapel goes on a little further, but that’s all that can be read in this scene.


        The aftermath of the Battle of Hastings

        Yes, the Normans were far from welcome. To demonstrate and consolidate his power, the new English king, William I, expropriated most of the Anglo-Saxon nobles and replaced them with his Norman lieges. He thus established a new aristocracy in England. When he returned to Normandy for the first time in the spring of 1067 – his rule there was still not really secure – he took many of England’s most important men hostage on his first trip home to Normandy.

        Before that, he changed

        • the administration (centralised administration, feudal system with the Oath of Salisbury)
        • the military (introduction of an army of trained vassals)
        • the Church (adapting it to continental standards, replacing almost all bishops with Normans and having Norman monks found monasteries in England), and
        • Trade (close links with the continent).

        He also had a number of buildings built, especially castles, which were scattered around the country as a symbol of the Norman regime. To protect London from further Viking attacks and to prevent possible uprisings by the locals, he built Baynard’s Castle and Montfichet Castle near the Thames, as well as the Tower of London.


        Domesday Book and the English language

        The most lasting effect, however, was linguistic, as Norman French became the language of the English upper classes, judiciary and administration. The Anglo-Saxon language was relegated to a non-written language after the Battle of Hastings. Although the Norman kingship lasted only until 1154 (after which the English kingship came from the House of Anjou-Plantagenet), it took many more decades for the class and language differences to be overcome and for a common Anglo-Saxon and Norman language, Middle English, to emerge. Even today, the Norman influence can be seen in some English expressions. For example, the animal in the field is a pig, but on the table it is pork.

        Not forgetting the Domesday Book, compiled in 1086, which lists for each county the landowners before and after the Conquest and their holdings, with value, tax assessment, plough, number of peasants and other data.



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        • Bates, David: William the Conqueror. Hew Haven 2016.
        • Coad, Jonathan: Battle Abbey and Battlefield. English Heritage Guidebooks. London 2007. P. 32, 48.
        • Dolderer, Winfried: Sieg der Normannen über die Angelsachsen bei Hastings (14/10/2016).
        • Huscroft, Richard: The Norman Conquest. A New Introduction. New York 2009. S. 80-85.
        • Medievalist Hanna Vollrath in an interview with Herwig Katzer. Cf. Katzer, Herwig: Schlacht bei Hastings. In: WDR ZeitZeichen (WDR5) (14/10/2011).
        • Marren, Peter: 1066. The Battles of York, Stamford Bridge & Hastings. Barnsley 2004. P. 146.
        • Williams, Ann: Æthelred the Unready. The Ill-Counselled King. London 2003. S. 42-55.



        • Poitiers, William of: Gesta Guillelmi II Ducis Normannorum (1071-1077).
        • Vitalis, Ordericus: Historia Ecclesiastica, Volume 4 and 5 (1110-1042).
        • Bayeux Tapestry (late 11th century).


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        • Midsomer Murders History Header Tuberculosis

          Not Dead But Sleepth

          (Caution: Contains spoilers for Episode: 13×04: The Silent Land)


          Joyce and Cully Barnaby attend a concert by a tenor singer and a pianist. While Joyce listens with enthusiasm and devotion to Ben John’s rendition of “Drink to me only with thine eyes”, Cully is visibly bored. Later, on the drive home to Causton, the two discuss the style of music, for Joyce has not had enough and listens to more singing on the car radio – much to the displeasure of Cully, who eventually falls asleep from boredom in the passenger seat as they pass the March Magna village sign.

          Smiling affectionately at her daughter, Joyce Barnaby turns down the radio. She may have taken her eyes off the road for a second, and when she looks back, she is startled. An adult is crossing the road in front of her. She tried to avoid the person, skidded and crashed into a tree on the side of the road.

          Thank God, the women in the car are unharmed except for a terrible scare. But Joyce is very upset because she is sure that someone was there. She tells her husband Tom this when they go to the scene the next morning. There was no blood, so she had not run over the person.

          But someone was there.

          Maybe she just grazed him, and he or she dragged on a few more yards, only to die there?

          Tom Barnaby’s heart goes out to him when he is called to a dead man in the old cemetery in March Magna, and Joyce, for all her grief, feels vindicated and expects the worst.


          Saint Fidelis

          Tom Barnaby meets his colleagues at the cemetery. After examining the crime scene, he turns to historian Ian Kent, who found the body and called the police.

          Fairmile Hospital
          Fairmile Hospital by Bill Nicholls. CC-BY SA 2.0.

          Ben Jones, who has been looking at the gravestones in the cemetery, has a pressing question for the historian: Why are the deceased in this cemetery all so young? Because patients from the old hospital are buried here, he learns.

          While Constable Gail Stephens seems well informed about the local situation, her two male colleagues have more questions for the historian. But Ian Kent seems to have little interest in discussing local history.

          This is exactly what Tom Barnaby does next, finding Faith Kent alone at home. She leads him into her study and the Chief Inspector discovers three photographic prints of a large building on the wall – two exterior views and one interior view. He immediately realises that it is this old hospital, which includes the graveyard where the latest murder victim was found.

          It was called St Fidelis, he learns from the local historian, and it was a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients, an incurable disease at the time – hence the many young dead in the hospital cemetery.


          Fair Mile Hospital

          Saint Fidelis Hospital was filmed at the Fair Mile Hospital between Moulsford and Cholsey in Oxfordshire. However, it was not a hospital for tuberculosis patients, but an institution for the in-patient treatment of people with mental illness. Every county in the United Kingdom was required to do this by 1845. So this building, with its red brick, blue tile detailing and slate roof, was built in the late 1860s.

          In 1870 it became the County Lunatic Asylum for Berkshire, as Cholsey was still part of that county until 1974 when it became part of Oxfordshire. The name was soon changed to Moulsford Asylum and in 1915 to Berkshire Mental Hospital. In 1948 it became part of the National Health Service and Fair Mile Hospital, which closed in 2003 due to declining use.

          It later became a private school, then a visitor centre until the 1980s, when it fell into disuse and decay.

          The buildings, which are substantially complete, have been on the National Heritage List since 1986 and have been used as a housing estate since 2011 (i.e. shortly after they were used as a filming location for Saint Fidelis).


          Not dead but sleepth

          R. Cooper: A sickly female invalid sits covered up on a balcony overloo. CC-BY SA 4.0.

          Tuberculosis was also known as “English consumption” in the British Isles at the time, although the then incurable disease killed a quarter of all adults across Europe in the 19th century. At the end of the 19th century, the mortality rate was still 80 per cent. More than a third of people aged 15-34 died of tuberculosis. Among 20-24 year olds, it was even half.

          Among them was the woman on whose gravestone the body was found. The strange thing is: Gerald Ebbs, the murdered man – who, incidentally, was not killed by Joyce but on the spot with a piece of the grave border – was not from Midsomer County. So why was he at the grave of Carolina Maria Roberts, placing flowers there?

          That’s what Ben Jones and Gail Stevens are trying to find out at Gerald Ebbs’ flat. Just then Tom Barnaby arrives and learns that the victim had collected a great deal of information about March Magna and Sutton-on-the-Hill in Derbyshire, both in the 1870s. The two places carved on the gravestone where the body was found. A relative?

          Gail Stephens sits at Ebbs’ laptop at the crime scene, monotonously clicking through the many photos he has recently saved there. One of the photos suddenly catches Tom Barnaby’s eye.

          Gail Stevens stops clicking and Tom Barnaby reads the bottom line of the gravestone inscription.


          “‘Not dead, but sleepeth.'”

          The full inscription on the gravestone reads:


          in the Memory of

          The old graveyard in Dorchester-on-Thames, June 2023. By Petra Tabarelli. Public Domain.






          who passed away

          June 25th 1875

          in her twentieth year

          NOT DEAD BUT


          Tom Barnaby goes back to Faith Kent to talk about St Fidelis and is told about the suicide of a young patient in the late 18th century on a large wooden staircase in the hospital, which has since been cursed and the scene of serious accidents.

          Back at Gerald Ebbs’ flat, Tom Barnaby talks to his colleagues. Ben Jones is sitting at his laptop and has just found out that there has been a suicide at Saint Fidelis Hospital. But he knows more than his boss and shows him a scanned page from an old newspaper on the laptop. At the same time, Ben has discovered the name of the woman who committed suicide: Caroline Maria Roberts. This is the woman Gerald Ebbs was so interested in.

          In the scene, the newspaper report is only shown briefly, but you can read most of it:

          Young Ladies Suicide.

          Caroline Maria Roberts – Sutton on the Hill committed suicide by throwing herself from the staircase of The Saint Fidelis Hospital for Diseases of the chest. March Magna, Midsomer, the court heard yesterday. Unfortunately it proved to be too true.

          The name of the newspaper is not mentioned.


          Dust and bad air

          Following his initial encounter with Faith Kent, Tom Barnaby embarked on a solitary journey to St Fidelis. Upon arriving, he found himself before a towering brick wall adorned with various tools, including a lengthy ladder propped against it. Undeterred, he ascended the ladder, peering over the wall to unveil the imposing structure of the expansive house beyond.

          Subsequently, he meticulously laid out a map detailing the hospital’s layout on the hood of his car. With a determined expression, he traced his finger along the map’s intricate pathways before pivoting his attention to scrutinize something specific on the adjacent wall:

          There is an entrance marked on the map, but it is no longer there.

          Tom goes to the spot and bends the hedge there. He finds it there – but it is bricked up and quite low. He has to bend down to get his head level with it.

          Bad Air
          American satirical cartoon featuring the grim reaper following a maid brushing off a trailing skirt shown as a carrier of germs, including consumption. By S. Ehrhart, c. 1900.
          Public Domain.


          The Mystery of the Old Entrance

          On a second visit to the local historian, he asks her about it: This is where the old entrance was, bricked up around 1920. An entrance for hospital staff who, for reasons of hygiene, were not allowed to use the main entrance through which the patients passed.

          Until then, tuberculosis patients had been degraded and defamed as ‘untouchables’ because it was not really known where the disease came from and how it spread. It was thought to be spread by dust and bad air. So people ventilated, cleaned and paid a lot of attention to hygiene.

          In 1869, the physician Jean Antoine Villemin showed that tuberculosis was an infectious and not a hereditary disease; thirteen years later, the epidemiologist Robert Koch discovered that the “tubercular dust” was nothing more than a bacillus; and another thirteen years later, the physicist Wilhelm Röntgen invented a device to detect and track the progress of the disease. However, it was another half century and a year before we finally had a drug to treat and even cure tuberculosis, thanks to the development of the antibiotic streptomycin.


          A romantic disease

          The bacteria that causes tuberculosis (under microscope). Public Domain.

          Tuberculosis is a very insidious disease that initially has no symptoms and is not contagious. It takes weeks or even years for the disease to intensify, develop symptoms and become infectious.

          The body becomes increasingly weakened by the disease, which can lead to death if left untreated. In the 19th century, the disease was mostly incurable.

          Today we are amazed that in the Romantic period some people wished to have incurable tuberculosis. In fact, many artists and educated people had these thoughts, because in the Victorian era, fragility meant sexual attractiveness. The pale appearance, the weak body was something that many people were very envious of.

          That is why healthy people powdered their skin as white as possible and were not afraid to use toxic substances such as arsenic. The physical symptoms of tuberculosis and the Victorian ideal of beauty inspired and interacted with each other: beautiful were women with a narrow waist, pale skin, red cheeks and a feverish glow. (Bizarrely, sunbathing on the veranda of a sanatorium as a treatment for tuberculosis led to the development of the tan.


          A creeping disease

          Classic symptoms include chest pain, night fever, cough, fever and severe weight loss – even spitting up blood. A classic treatment in the 19th century was to collapse the lung and allow it to heal.

          “Fading Away”, a photo by Henry Peach Robinson, 1858. Public Domain.

          But this does not work in all cases, and in the late stages of the disease it does not work at all.

          Those who could afford it spent their last weeks or years in a sanatorium. These institutions spread very quickly throughout Europe with the peak of tuberculosis in the second half of the 19th century. In the beginning, they were always at least 500 metres above sea level, because it was thought that the high altitude air could cure the heart and lungs. Later, sanatoriums were built at lower altitudes. However, the principle of airiness, of living in the air, remained the central element.

          The sanatoriums were built with many balconies, verandas and terraces so that patients could do as much as possible in the fresh air, including sleeping.

          Other elements were a healthy diet and light exercise. Patients who were not yet bedridden should be able to move around as individually and independently as possible. But this required separate rooms or entrances for patients and medical staff. This was because it was still believed that there was a kind of tuberculosis dust through which the disease spread.

          For this reason, the corners were rounded as much as possible to prevent the accumulation of dust. And the linoleum floor and pegamoid wallpaper made it possible to clean with steam.


          “It’s… nothing”

          At the end of the episode, Tom and Joyce Barnaby drive home in the pouring rain. Both in their own cars, Tom Barnaby in the front. He glances at his wristwatch, then looks up at the street to see a woman in a wide coat over a dress with a crinolette – typical of late 19th century fashion. She is walking leisurely across the road, very close to his car.

          Tom is startled and slams on the brakes. The woman, however, continues to walk towards the wall of Saint Fidelis, becoming more and more transparent. Tom watches from the car as she disappears through the wall. Joyce has somehow managed to brake in time and is still in the car watching her completely puzzled husband get out of his car and walk to the spot where the woman disappeared.

          Joyce gets out and asks if everything is all right. He does not react, but looks at the hedge on the wall and pulls the branches apart. Behind it, he can see another walled-up entrance – just like the one he discovered in another place. Exactly the same style. Joyce asks worriedly once more. This time, Tom turns to her and you can see that he has realised that he has seen a ghost.

          But of course he doesn’t show his face to Joyce and goes back to his car. Joyce also gets back into the car.


          Read more about Midsomer Murders & History

          The Chronology of Midsomer County by Year or by EpisodesDeep Dives into Midsomer & History.

          If you would like to honour my effort and passion, I am happy and thankful for every donation.



          Further readings

          • Wheeler, Ian: Fair Mile Hospital: A Victorian Asylum. Cheltenham 2015.



          Recommend my website or give some feedback

            I would like to point out that this is an unofficial fan site and I am not connected to Bentley Productions, ITV or the actors.

          • Midsomer Murders History Header Francis Galton

            Francis Galton

            (Caution: Contains spoilers for Episodes 13×05: Master Class, and a bit for 14×06: The Night of the Stag)


            The Fieldings’ manor, Devington Hall, is currently hosting auditions for Sir Michael Fielding’s Master Class. The manor is a 19th century country house, the grounds of which belonged to the Knights Templars several centuries earlier and has been built on since at least the 14th century. Its real name is St Katharine’s Convent and it is situated in the little hamlet of Parmoor, Buckinghamshire. A very detailed documentation of the house, which has been on the National Heritage List since 22 January 1986, can be found on the Buckinghamshire Gardens trust site.

            Tom Barnaby is sitting in the last row of the Fieldings’ concert hall, with whom he had come into contact shortly before. A young woman, Zoë Stock, had reported that a blonde woman of about the same age had drowned in the nearby river. After a thorough search, no body was found, but the case continues to haunt the DCI. Unlike Zoë, he knows that about 20 years earlier a woman of her age actually drowned here.

            And so it’s no surprise that he doesn’t sit still, but improves the shining hour and does some snooping around the manor.

            Almost unnoticed, he makes it out of the room towards the end of Orlando’s Guest audition. Only Francesca Sharpe’s father notices him, but is still irritated by Francesca’s announcement that he should leave her alone and doesn’t wonder about Tom for more than a second.

            Tom Barnaby takes the first room on the right as his first port of call and ends up in the library. With his hands in his suit pockets and an interested, sniffing expression, he takes a few steps into the room and looks around.


            Tom’s discovery in the library

            Francis Galton
            This photograph by Francis Galton hangs in Fielding’s library. It was taken around 1865.

            Meanwhile, Francesca Sharpe is now having her audition in the concert hall, Joyce Barnaby notices that her husband is no longer in his seat. She works as a volunteer for the Fieldings and helps to organise the auditions. Annoyed, she goes in search of her husband and also leaves the hall. He is still in the library. Does he want to miss the performance of wunderkind Zoë Stock’s? Oh, no, of course not!

            He is about to leave the library when his gaze lingers on a small portrait framed in dark wood. He bends his upper body forward to see better. It is a photograph on a red-painted passepartout and shows a man with a whisker standing frontally in a room with a commode and lamp. His left leg is placed in front of his right and he is holding onto the dresser with his left hand. it is in sepia colours.

            Joyce has noticed that Tom is not following her and asks what’s going on. Tom points to the photo and recognises Sir Francis Galton. Joyce has never heard him, while Tom is thrilled. Francis Galton! The man who discovered that every human being has an individual fingerprint. He revolutionised police work.

            Joyce is not quite so enthusiastic about Galton, and doesn’t want to be late for Zoë Stock’s audition. She urges Tom again to come to the concert hall, which Tom finally does. But not without thinking about why a pianist has a photo of Francis Galton hanging on the wall of his library.


            The all-measuring man?

            Fingerprint Faulds
            A page from Henry Fauld’s book “Guide to finger-print A page from Henry Fauld’s book “Guide to finger-print identification” from 1905.

            Now it is not really the case that it has only been known for a good 150 years that every human being has differently pronounced skin ridges. Think of the method of palmistry – it was already known in the early advanced civilisations, for example Babylonia, Assyria or in ancient Egypt.

            Sir William James Herschel was the first to use it to identify people. He was the Secretary of the Board of Revenue of the British Raj, the civil service in the British colony in India. Building on this, Dr Henry Faulds was the first to propose its potential use in forensic work in 1880. Both were the first to propose the introduction of fingerprints to identify criminals.

            However, it was Francis Galton who was commissioned by the British colonial government in the British Raj in 1888 to develop an uncomplicated personal recognition system – wrote Galton. I don’t yet know whether this is really true. I am sceptical because Galton is not supposed to have mentioned at all that the idea and the first research on this did not come from him, but Herschel and Faulds. Nevertheless, Galton published three books between 1892 and 1895 on this subject: Finger Prints (1892), Decipherment of Blurred Finger Prints (1893), and Fingerprint Directories (1895).

            But we have now read so much Galton’s name, who was he anyway?


            Mostly yes

            Oh, that’s not so quick to answer because Francis Galton was very inquisitive and wanted to explore everything possible himself – a bit like his 13-year older cousin Charles Darwin. He simply measured everything that could be measured and is listed as a

            • Naturalist
            • Writer
            • Geographer
            • African explorer/tropical explorer
            • Meteorologist
            • Polymath
            • Statistician
            • Sociologist
            • Psychologist
            • Anthropologist
            • Inventor (for example, the Galton whistle, instrument for generating extremely high tones in the ultrasonic range), and a
            • Psychometrician.

            Quite a lot.


            Galton’s education

            Initially on a medical career path, Francis Galton, urged by Charles Darwin, paused his medical studies for rigorous mathematical training at Cambridge. Both being affluent, the Darwin and Galton families had the luxury of not depending on employment for a living. Charles, recognizing that the medical field wasn’t suitable for Galton, encouraged him to pursue his own course.

            Embarking on an expedition to unexplored African territories from 1850 to 1852, Galton authored “Art of Travel” in 1855—a practical guide for bush exploration. This expedition, coupled with the biases evident in his findings, influenced by Darwin’s “Origin of Species” (1859), shifted Galton’s life trajectory.

            Galton, now convinced of the heritability of talent and character, examined the family backgrounds of judges, military leaders, and lord chancellors. Discovering that their sons often followed similar paths as more distant relatives, he dismissed objections about eminent fathers facilitating opportunities for their sons. Nicholas Gilliam, in “Cousins: Charles Darwin, Sir Francis Galton, and the Birth of Eugenics,” noted Galton’s refusal to fully consider the role of environment.

            Despite prevailing views of his time, Galton faced skepticism and rejection during his lifetime. His bias-driven experiments aimed to legitimize his hypotheses rather than aligning with common sense in Victorian-period science. Galton’s pursuits reflected a determined individual trying to substantiate his own ideas, challenging the norms of his era.


            More than a fingerprint man

            Apparently Joyce Barnaby finds the man on the wall in Devington Hall not so uninteresting after all because a little later she is reading a biography of Sir Francis Galton in bed. The clock on Tom Barnaby’s bedside table shows half past ten. Tom comes out of the bathroom in dark blue pyjamas with a white towel in his hand. He switches off the bathroom light and asks what book Joyce is reading. At first he is delighted that she is now also interested in Galton. But Joyce already knows more than her husband. Tom Barnaby looks incredulous when she mentions with a critical eye that Galton’s biggest fans were the Nazis.

            The DCI now wants to know more about this. Joyce hands him the book, wishing him good night. As she switches off her lamp, Tom flips the book, reading avidly all night.


            A disgusting man

            Francis Galton
            The watercolour painting by Octavius Oakley shows the young Francis Galton, 1840. Public Domain.

            The next day, Tom Barnaby also knew that Francis Galton’s only interest was genetics. Galton, however, did not use the term genetics, but introduced “eugnics” as a new term in English science in 1883, borrowed from the Greek word “eugenes”, which actually means nothing other than “well-born”, but was used by him in the sense of “good inheritance”. Here, his two-part paper “Hereditary Talent and Character”, published in “Macmillan’s Magazine” in 1865, should be mentioned in particular.

            Galton’s disgusting notion asserts that intelligence and personality are largely hereditary, suggesting specific measures to enhance the English population.He was desperate to find personal and psychological identification elements to support his hypotheses. He was by no means objective.

            The certain measures were, for example, a ban on the reproduction of people who were not talented. Galton also described this very clearly in his novel Kantsaywhere („Can’t say where“), which he finished in 1910, shortly before his death.

            The novel describes his notion of a eugenic utopia: The Eugenics College of Kantsaywhere determine the fate of its people based on a test. Those who fail were segregated into labour colonies where having children was a crime, others were encouraged to emigrate. Those who pass the test pass it with an equivalent of a degree or with honors.


            The ideal age

            In Kantsaywhere, Galton sets the ideal age to form a reproductive alliance at 22. Why 22? Well, according to Galton, this allows the production of four generations of superior people per century, provided they all pass the test.

            And the same was probably on Sir Michael Fielding’s mind when he impregnated his daughter Molly. Apparently, despite her medication, she was potentially on the side of those who passed the Kantsaywhere talent test.

            About 21 years later he wants to impregnate his daughter Zoë and that she has talent, well, no test is needed. We know Zoë’s age at least from the picture in Jonas Slee’s bar: Molly was still alive in autumn 1990 and we are now in autumn 2010.

            Tom Barnaby notices Zoë looking rooted that framed photo on the wall with Molly.

            The picture is shown in close-up. There are eight people in it, six men, two women. It was taken in front of this building. They are all estimated to be between 20 and 50 years old. They are all smiling or laughing when the photo is taken, only the woman Zoë is referring to is looking melancholy. At the bottom of the photo is a small note with the date “Autumn 1990”.

            As the DCI was investigating the case at the time, he knows it’s Molly. But how can Zoë know? She was an infant at the time? Well, we later learn that Molly is Zoë’s biological mother and that she witnessed the scene under a bush.


            The Stag and the Queen Bee

            Stag Fight
            Whitetail deer bucks locking their stags during late rut in Cades Cove. Great Smoky Mountains of Blount County, Tennessee, United States. By Brian Stansberry, 2013. CC-BY SA 3.0.

            Almost exactly a year after the events of Fielding’s Kantsaywhere, John Barnaby, cousin of Tom Barnaby, engages in a peculiar conversation with his wife Sarah in their kitchen. Initially, the discourse involves John and the family dog, Sykes, revolving around a honey loaf. The queen bee’s strategy: a thin maiden flight to maximize distance and mate with drones from other hives.

            While Sarah sits amidst papers with her laptop and a glass of red wine, she interjects, mentioning that locals also adopt similar practices. Intrigued, John is perplexed, prompting Sarah to clarify. Rising from her seat, she approaches John by the toaster, taking a nearly empty wine glass and a bottle to refill it. She enlightens him about the historical prevalence of incest risk in highly rural areas. Small villages with limited opportunities for mobility and few newcomers created conditions conducive to inbreeding. Economic hardship forced many to migrate to urban areas, diminishing the population and exacerbating the risk.

            In hamlets, a tradition formed: men, on a designated day, moved between locations to mate with women from different areas, Sarah explains. This tradition, she reveals, is the root of customs like Stag Night and rutting fights.


            Why some old traditions should remain forgotten

            John Barnaby’s expression becomes very thoughtful. Sarah is irritated by John’s petrified expression, but he just understands the context of the Stag Night cult in Midsomer Abbas and Midsomer Herne and also why Peter Slim had to die. To verify his assumption, he asks Sarah what day that one day of the year was. And is confirmed: It’s Beltane. (Note: It should actually be 1 May because the stag cult is connected with Beltane).

            The connection between Midsomer Abbas and Midsomer Herne by the Frost in 1370 was not the only one that existed. For decades, centuries, the men of the two villages went across the valley to the other village to mate in order to avoid the risks and consequences of incest. However, this should be a tradition among the local villagers. Not a new arrival like Peter Slim.

            This tradition that had not been practised for 60 years (i.e. since around 1951). Thank goodness, one has to say, but the two village leaders, among others, see it differently and want to revive the tradition so that it does not perish and fall completely into oblivion.

            It is possible that this tradition already existed in 1370. And is the reason why Midsomer Herne naturally helped out the starving inhabitants of Midsomer Abbas.


            Read more about Midsomer Murders & History

            The Chronology of Midsomer County by Year or by EpisodesDeep Dives into Midsomer & History.

            If you would like to honour my effort and passion, I am happy and thankful for every donation.



            • Bulmer, Michael: Francis Galton: Pioneer of Heredity and Biometry. Baltimore 2003.
            • Gilliam, Nicholas: Cousins. Charles Darwin, Sir Francis Galton and the birth of eugenics. In: data mine (2019). P. 132-135.
            • Kritische Psychologie Marburg: Sir Francis Galton. Begründer der Differenziellen Psychologie, Begründet der Eugenik. In: Kritische Psychologie (2007).
            • NN: Francis Galton, about 1865. In: DNA Learning Center.
            • NN: A Brief History of the House. In: St Katherine’s Parmoor.
            • The Buckinghamshire Gardens Trust Research & Recording Project: St Katherine’s, Parmoor. In: Understanding Historic Parks and Gardens in Buckinghamshire (December 2014).



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              I would like to point out that this is an unofficial fan site and I am not connected to Bentley Productions, ITV or the actors.