Season 17

  • Midsomer Murders History Header Roman Vineyards

    Roman Vineyards


    (Caution: Contains spoilers for Episode: 17×04: A Vintage Murder)

     

    Elspeth Rice has just returned from measuring the depth of a lake in Midsomer Vinae. She is deeply concerned about the results, as this lake holds a painful memory for her. Five years ago, she accidentally hit and fatally injured young Jessica Tyler, and her car sank into this very lake. Elspeth has been struggling to forgive herself ever since, and in an effort to protect herself, she made some regrettable choices.

    However, she is now determined to face the truth and make amends. In the trial, she confidently testified that she saw Nadia Simons’ black car at the scene of the accident, driving at a dangerously high speed and likely under the influence of alcohol. This happened after the launch of Carnarvon’s first Midsomer Vinae wine, to which Simons had been invited. In a friendly manner, Elspeth imposed herself on her friend and Jessica’s mother, Judy Tyler. She confidently explained to her that Jessica’s death was caused by Nadia Simons, who is known for drunk driving. The Carnarvons had invited her to their wine launch, possibly to divert attention from her. I hope this information helps.

     

    “It’s England. It always rains.”

    Stanlake Park Vinery
    The forecourt of Stanlake Park, where the opening scene of the episode was filmed. Photo by Petra Tabarelli, June 2023. Public Domain.

    Here’s how the animosity between the Tylers and the Carnarvons, who run the vineyard, originated. The latter are unaware of the situation, and the Tylers are outraged that the Carnarvons, despite being perceived as guilty, have shown themselves to be innocent.

    In recent years, Elspeth Rice’s web of lies has taken on a life of its own and has become more complex. Elspeth Rice confidently stirs the pot, ensuring that what lies beneath the surface – or rather, in the lake – remains hidden. The water level may decrease slightly, but there is no cause for concern. Although the winery uses lake water, the extent of their use is not harmful to the vegetation.

    Elspeth Rice hurriedly cycled to the winery where she met Kevin Payton, a young man who was assisting and aspiring to take over the winery. Shortly after, DCI John Barnaby arrived at the winery. However, Kevin Payton seemed unaware of the significance of the lake level dropping just a few inches, stating that it always rains in England. However, Kevin Payton seemed unaware of the significance of the lake level dropping just a few inches, stating that it always rains in England. With a friendly tone, Elspeth Rice explained the importance of the lake level and cycled away. However, Kevin Payton seemed unaware of the significance of the lake level dropping just a few inches, stating that it always rains in England.

    He confidently observed an argument between the two of them from a distance and is now curious about the reason. By the way, did you know that the village is named Midsomer Vinae because the Romans produced wine in this area?

     

    Big vineyards in Great Britain? Absolutely.

    Stanlake Park House
    William Carvarnon’s house was film in the manor of Stanlake Park. Photo by Petra Tabarelli, June 2023. Public Domain.

    The Romans, who conquered the British Isles in AD 43, were known for their love of wine. In fact, Historiae Augustae Probus, 18.8, dating from 270 AD, confirms that the Gauls, Spaniards, and Britons were all granted permission to cultivate vineyards and make wines.

    While it’s true that viticulture may not have existed in Britain in the first few decades, it’s clear that the Romans brought their wine culture with them and made it a part of British life. While Tacitus wrote in 100 AD that olives and wine were not present in Britain, it’s likely that both were introduced in the 3rd century. This may come as a surprise, but during Roman times, Britain’s climate was actually slightly warmer than it is now, with an average annual rainfall of 500-600 mm (compared to today’s 800-1,400 mm). It is clear that the Roman origins of the 46 vineyards mentioned in the Domesday Book in Suffolk played a role in the development of the wine industry in Britain.

    Roman Britain had a thriving wine industry, with Northamptonshire being the primary wine-producing region. It is clear that the Roman origins of the 46 vineyards mentioned in the Domesday Book in Suffolk played a role in the development of the wine industry in Britain. In fact, a vineyard covering 11 hectares (around 20 football pitches) was even discovered there. While a few vineyards have been documented or found in some counties such as Buckinghamshire. The county may only have one documented vineyard at present, but it is worth noting that wine has been produced in Midsomer County, albeit not in Midsomer Vinae.

     

    But is it really the case that wine was grown in Midsomer Vinae in Roman times?

    Stanlake Park Vineyards
    One of Stanlake Park’s vineyards. Photo by Petra Tabarelli, June 2023. Public Domain.

    The answer is as short as it is disappointing: No. the vinery Stanlake Park in Berkshire, which served as the location for the Midsomer Vinae vineyard, was not established until 1979. But: It has been a place for vineyards for a very long time, although not from Roman times, but from Norman times. Grapes have been growing here since the 12th century.

    The manor of William Carnarvon, however, stands on the site of a wooden building from the Middle Ages. There is no evidence of Roman origins, but the recent building is a 16th century manor, built by the Aldworth family before moving to Billingbear House. A royalist family who fought for Charles I in the British Civil War. It was later rebuilt in the brick style of today.

    Fortunately, there are a few Roman sites in Berkshire that we know by name, with most of them being located to the west of Stanlake Park and approximately 25 miles (72 km) away. Additionally, the important manufacturing location of Wickham Bushes at Easthampstead is only 7 miles (11 km) to the south of Stanlake Park.

    The Roman Civitas Atrebates was mainly comprised of what is now Berkshire county, with a council located at Calleva Atrebatum/Silchester (now in Hampshire). It is worth noting that Calleva Atrebatum was well-connected. Civitas Atrebates was a hub of activity, with roads leading to Dorchester-on-Thames, St Albans (known as ‘Camlet Way’), London (known as the Devil’s Highway) and Cirencester (known as ‘Ermin(e) Way’).

    The community offered a variety of trades, including farming, pottery, shoemaking, dyeing, woodworking, stonemasonry, and blacksmithing. While wine was traded in Civitas Atrebates, it was not cultivated there.

     

    Read more about Midsomer Murders & History

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

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    Further readings: How long does it take from Rome to Britain?

     

    Literature

    • Beach Combing”: Roman and Medieval Vineyards in Chilly Britain. In: Beachcombing’s Bizarre History Blog. (24/12/2012).
    • Brown, Tony et al.: Roman Vineyards in Britain. Stratigraphic and palynological data from Wollaston in the Nene Valley, England. In: Antiquity 75 (2015). P. 745-757.
    • Frere, Sheppard: Verulamium Excavations. Band III. Oxford 1983. P. 26-28.
    • Fryer Ward, Samantha: In Vino Veritas. The Roman roots of our English wine industry. In: Corinium Museum. (17/06/2022).
    • Greenaway, Jill: Solent-Thames Research Framework Roman Berkshire. In: Oxford Archaeology (November 2006).
    • Keys, David: Veni, vidi, viticulture – remains of Roman vineyards found in UK. In: Independent (16/11/1999).
    • Nash Ford, David: Moated Manors. In: Royal Berkshire History.
    • Nash Ford, David: Berkshire History, Roman Times. In: Royal Berkshire History.
    • NN: Stanlake Park Wine Estate. In: Visit South East England.
    • Wacher, John: The Towns of Roman Britain. London/New York 21997. p. 214-217.
    • Williams, D.: A Consideration of the Sub-Fossil Remains of Vitis vinifera L. as Evidence for Viticulture in Roman Britain. In: Britannia 8 (1977). P. 327-334.

     

     

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