Season 08

  • Midsomer Murders History Header Albert Plummer‘s Relish

    Albert Plummer in India


    (Caution: Contains spoilers for Episode: 08×07: Sauce for the Goose)

     

    Sam Hardwick guides a small group through the Plummer’s Relish factory where he worked until his retirement – past the desks and assembly lines where the work is done. He tells us that Albert Plummer was a young man in the Punjab when he discovered and fell in love with a relish. When he returned in 1851, he had the recipe for the relish with him and made it. It became a big hit.

    It is not known how Albert Plummer came up with the recipe for this delicious relish, which Tom Barnaby also enjoyed. The only clues we have are the year 1851 and the region of Punjab.

    It is possible that Albert Plummer was a soldier in the Second Sikh War. Or he was a trader who expanded his network there immediately after the conquest of the Punjab and came across the relish. Or he was both: a soldier who later discovered the relish and noted it down to make some money back home in Little Upton.

     

    India as a British colony

    Second Sikh War
    A short history of the Sikhs by Payne, C. H. (Charles Herbert) Publication date 1915?]. Public Domain.

    India had been a colony of the British Empire since the 18th century, administered by the East India Company. The Company’s expansion took two forms: First, the outright annexation of Indian states and the subsequent direct administration of the underlying regions, which collectively became British India (including Punjab, North-West Frontier Province and Kashmir, following the Anglo-Sikh wars of 1849-1856).

    Second, Indian rulers recognised the company’s hegemony in return for limited internal autonomy.

    The Punjab, a region that is now part of India and part of Pakistan, maintained an uneasy alliance with the East India Company until the mid-19th century. But after the death of Punjab’s Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1839, his empire fell into disarray and the East India Company began to build up its military strength on Punjab’s borders.

    Rising tensions eventually led the Sikh army to invade the East India Company’s land. As a result, Patrick Vans Agnew of the Civil Service and Lieutenant William Anderson of the Bombay European Regiment were ordered to Multan, where they were killed by insurgents in the spring of 1848. Both the Governor-General of India, Lord Dalhousie, and the Commander-in-Chief, Sir Hugh Gough, felt that the British East India Company’s forces lacked sufficient transport and supplies, and delayed revenge for a few months.

    The war lasted from November 1848 to March 1849 and resulted in a British victory and the fall of the Sikh Empire, which was annexed by the East India Company. Albert Plummer could therefore have lived in the Punjab for a maximum of two years, as it was not yet part of the colony.

     

    Cultural transfer of flavours

    Economically, the British Empire and its colony in India were closely linked. British goods were sold in India without tariffs and duties, but domestic Indian products were heavily taxed. Heavy taxation also applied to imports of Indian products into the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, but not to raw cotton. This was imported, processed in British factories and then sold on. The colony was thus both a supplier and a market for cotton resources.

    The same was true of food, since British food was very bland and India had many spices unknown in Europe. Yes, the conquest of India as a colony was not primarily for the land, but for direct access to flavours and spices, and thus to new sources of trade.

    British people – whether they came to India as traders, troops or officials – learned about the culture and the food. Sometimes they settled and traded from India, or brought new spices and recipes back to the British Isles after a few years in South Asia. Like Albert Plummer.

    These included curries, but also chutneys and relishes. These canned mixtures of onions, brown sugar, spices and fruit or vegetables were a way of livening up their own unexciting cuisine. The difference between the two is that chutney is a jelly-like sauce, while relish is more like mustard.

     

    Film locations

    Branston Pickle
    A spoonful of Branston Pickle Relish, which looks very similar to Plummer’s Relish. Photo by LearningLark: Branston Pickle, 2013. CC-BY SA 2.0. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Branston_Pickle_close-up.jpg

    Branston Pickle, a popular condiment in Britain, may have been the inspiration for Plummer’s Relish. But the film was actually shot in a fruit canning factory. The Plummer’s Relish factory has two locations, as the exterior scenes were shot at The Maltings in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, and the interior scenes at Tiptree, Essex. Both buildings are typical 19th century factory buildings.

    The Britannia Fruit Preserving Company in Tiptree was founded in 1885 by Arthur Charles Wilkin and two other men. Their idea was to make jam without glucose, colouring or preservatives, but with all the flavour. They were successful. The company’s success was boosted by the rail link between Kelvedon and Tollesbury via Tiptree. I can’t find any reference to the interior, and it may well have been heavily modified for the filming of the episode.

    The Maltings is, as the name suggests, a malt house founded in 1818. The two-storey, rubble-brick and slate-roofed building was built in 1829. But exactly 100 years later the brewery had to close. The building has been on the National Heritage List since 17 May 1984 and is used alternately as shops and offices. In 2021, a new owner was sought for the building, according to several websites, but it is also in need of renovation.

     

    The real secret

    Albert Plummer’s carefully guarded recipe in the safe actually has a story of its own. Anselm Plummer admits that he was looking for the Plummer’s relish recipe in the safe. But what he doesn’t know is that it’s worth nothing, because the relish Albert Plummer created poisoned his housemaid. It was not he who created the recipe, but his cook.

    And after all that has happened, even the new recipe for Plummer’s Relish is inedible for Tom Barnaby.

     

    Read more about Midsomer Murders & History

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

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    Literature

     

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    • Midsomer Murders History Header Gunpowder Plot

      “Involved in the Gunpowder Plot.”


      (Caution: Contains spoilers for Episodes: 08×04: Bantling Boy, and 15×02: Murder of Innocence)

       

      Welcome to Bantling Hall, located in the picturesque village of Dorney, Buckinghamshire… no, sorry: Dorney Court. A stunning Tudor manor that has been listed on the National Heritage List since 23 September 1955. With a rich history dating back to before the Battle of Hastings, the manor has been owned by several notable figures, including Aldred and Miles Crispin. Dorney Court is proudly owned by the Palmer family, who have maintained its beauty and heritage for generations. It is worth noting that the text does not reference the Gunpowder Plot, Battle of Marston Moor, or War of Independence. In 1646, during the Civil War, the Palmer family, who were royalists, had their estates seized. However, their estates were returned to them in 1657.

      Back to Midsomer: As Tom Barnaby arrives at Bantling Hall for the first time, he is warmly greeted by Angela Hartley. Upon entering the drawing room, he is struck by the impressive large-scale oil paintings of notable figures. Angela proudly introduces the first gentleman depicted in one of the paintings as Cecil Hartley, the 3rd Baron Bantling. Despite his controversial past, Cecil remains a fascinating historical figure. Interestingly, Cecil was one of the Catholic conspirators involved in the infamous Gunpowder Plot of 1615, which aimed to assassinate the English king and his family.

       

      Remember, remember

      Gunpowder Plot
      This is where the ammunition for the Gunpowder Plot was hidden. William Capon: The cellar underneath the House of Lords, as drawn by William Capon, 1799. Public Domain.

      James VI of Scotland was widely regarded as a beacon of hope for English Catholics due to his reputation for religious tolerance. However, their hopes were ultimately dashed as James became increasingly drawn to Protestantism. In the summer of 1603, two plots were attempted by Catholics: one to kidnap James and the other to overthrow the royal family. In the summer of 1603, two plots were attempted by Catholics. One to kidnap James (“Bye Plot”) and the other to overthrow the royal family (“Main Plot”). However, both plots failed and resulted in James implementing stricter policies against Catholics.

      The power of Catholics in England was waning as the Puritans gained influence. In the summer of 1603, two plots were attempted by Catholics: one to kidnap James and the other to overthrow the royal family. It is clear that the Catholic influence was no match for the strength of the Puritan movement. In response to the plots, he confidently decreed that all Catholic priests must leave the country. In his friendly opening speech to Parliament as King James I, he made it clear that he had no interest in strengthening Catholic influence again, which was highly sobering for the Catholics.

       

      The Fifth of November: Gunpowder, Treason, and Plot

      In May 1604, a group of Catholics, led by Robert Catesby, confidently planned a large explosive attack on the opening of parliament as revenge for the oppression of Catholics. This friendly version of the text aims to convey the message in a clear and approachable manner, while maintaining a confident tone to showcase the competence of the conspirators. The plan aimed to kill not only the king but also all members of parliament. However, they made an exception for James’ daughter Elizabeth, who they planned to kidnap and install as titular Queen after the attack. Based on today’s calculations, the 2.5 tons of hidden explosives were enough to cause severe damage to all buildings within a one-kilometre radius and completely destroy Westminster.

      The ‘powder treason’ plot was entrusted to explosives expert Guy Fawkes (who used the spelling Guido Faukes). He easily obtained gunpowder on the black market, and the event was scheduled for 5 November 1605. The explosives had already been carefully concealed in the cellars of Westminster. It is clear that those involved in the plot were highly confident in their ability to carry out this devastating attack. But the plot was foiled just before the opening of parliament thanks to a letter received by the Catholic MP Lord Monteagle advising him not to attend. The explosives were found in time, and Guy Fawkes was apprehended.

      After being subjected to torture, Fawkes confessed and revealed the identities of his co-conspirators, who were subsequently captured. The failed plot had a considerable adverse effect on anti-Catholic politics. However, the government used it to intensify the suppression and persecution of Catholics. We must acknowledge the impact of this event and work towards a more inclusive and tolerant society.

       

      I know of no reason why gunpowder treason should ever be forgot

      Bonfire
      A Bonfire. Public Domain.

      In January 1606, just a few weeks after the plot, Parliament convened for the first time and confidently passed the Observance of 5th November Act 1605. This friendly act established special sermons to commemorate the upcoming anniversaries. Additionally, to this day, the Yeomen of the Guard amiably search the cellars under the Houses of Parliament before the annual opening of Parliament by the reigning monarch.

      Other traditions of public remembrance were established soon after. Annual bonfires were held, which is why the anniversary of Guy Fawkes Night is also known as Bonfire Night. In fact, an episode of Midsomer (15×02, Murder of Innocence) features a Bonfire Night celebration.

      Sarah and John Barnaby are shown relaxing on the sofa with Asian food after work. Sarah is already sitting on the sofa, enjoying her meal with two chopsticks in hand. Meanwhile, John stands and thinks out loud about the case and the significance of Bonfire Night 1994. This event holds the key to solving his current case, as Grady Felton was wrongly convicted of murder during that time. The Bonfire Night 1994 in Binwell is a crucial scene in solving the current murders. It is worth noting that there were no other notable incidents in England on Saturday 5 November 1994. The episode was confidently filmed in Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, and Surrey.

       

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      Literature

      • Frazer, Antonia: The Gunpowder Plot. Terror and Faith in 1605. London 1996.

       

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      • Header Midsomer Murders History Civil War

        The Civil War, pt. 1


        (Caution: Contains spoilers for Episodes: 03×04: Beyond the Grave, 06×04: A Tale of two Hamlets, 08×04: Bantling Boy, and 11×02: Blood Wedding)

         

        After the Gunpowder Plot, religious tensions in England continued to escalate against the Catholics. Among them were the Fitzroys of Bledlow Village, who took over ownership of their manor in the 1600s. This is what Harry Fitzroy told Ben Jones in an interview. Well, there’s no telling how he treats the policeman. Let’s say: Fitzroy certainly told Ben Jones not to ask questions like that.

        The episode first aired in 2008, which means the Fitzroys have owned the manor since at least 1608, perhaps even before the Gunpowder Plot? Unfortunately, we don’t know from whom they acquired the manor.

         

        The Grace of God

        In 1625, James I was succeeded by King Charles I, who was even more committed to an absolutist monarchy. But he also sought reconciliation with Catholicism.

        None of this appeased the many Puritans in Parliament. On several occasions, Charles I brushed aside concerns, petitions and so on. Things came to a head in 1640, after his plan to use royal troops to suppress a Scottish rebellion failed, and Parliament produced the Great Remonstrance. This was a list of all Charles I’s transgressions since 1625 – from the Puritan point of view. But Charles I felt so emboldened that he attempted a coup in January 1642, arresting Pym and other opposition leaders in the House of Commons.

        But the coup failed. Charles I then fled to Oxford and the civil war began. The real leader of the Puritans was Oliver Cromwell. A Puritan with a very strong belief in Providence and the great-nephew of Thomas Cromwell (Dissolution of the Monasteries).

         

        The origin of the enmity between the Upper and Lower Wardens

        13 March 1643. According to the history books, it was not a decisive day in the Civil War, but for the inhabitants of the two villages of Lower Warden and Upper Warden, it was the beginning of a conflict that has lasted to the present day, and has only been exacerbated by the tug-of-war over the writer Ellis Bell and his famous book, House of Satan.

        Frank Smythe-Webster also attends the press conference following the murder of the rather unpopular Larry Smith. Jack Wilson, who writes for the Upper Warden Church Newsletter and also runs the bookshop on the High Street, calls in. To Tom Barnaby’s astonishment, he does not have a question, but simply wants to point out to the press present that this is the appropriate time to talk about Ellis Bell’s affiliation. Just then, however, Frank Smythe-Webster’s phone rings and Gavin Troy asks Tom to come with him. Tom Barnaby and the others barely hear what Jack Wilson says. However, the Lower Warden bookseller explains that the enmity between the two chalets dates back to 14 March 1643 and Cromwell.

        Jack Wilson could have explained what happened here in the early days of the Civil War, but Tom Barnaby interrupts him to go and see Gavin Troy. So we don’t know which of the hamlets was on the Royalist side and which was on the Parliamentarian side. But we do learn elsewhere that, irritatingly, Lower Warden is on a hill and Upper Warden is in the valley.

         

        The Battle of Chalgrove

        Perhaps the origins of the enmity lie in the Battle of Chalgrove, although this took place a few weeks later on 18 June 1643. Nearby are Watlington and Lewknor, the sites of Upper Warden and Lower Warden. Situated in Oxfordshire on the Chiltern Hills, they are 3 miles (almost 5 kilometres) apart, separated only by the hamlet of Shirburg. Both date from Anglo-Saxon settlements, but nearby ancient roads (now public footpaths) – Icknield Way and The Ridgeway – both date from the Iron Age and were also used in Roman times, archaeological evidence shows. After the Battle of Hastings, the Danish Thegn Tovi bequeathed his royal fief to Abingdon Abbey, which farmed it until its dissolution in 1538. Both towns were connected to the railway network from the second half of the 19th century.

        During the Civil War, Watlington played a greater role as it housed Parliamentary troops. Even before the Civil War there were a number of Puritans, so the Roundheads were welcome here. The commander-in-chief of the Royal Cavalry was Rupert of the Rhine, Charles I’s nephew and an experienced and renowned soldier at the age of 23. He moved via Watlington and Lewknor to Chalgrove in June 1643, where he met Parliamentary troops seeking revenge for the siege of Reading. The battle consisted of several engagements which ended in a convincing Royalist victory.

        Another possibility: The Battle of Hopton Heath in Staffordshire on 19 March 1643 was close in time to the enmity between the Upper and Lower Wardens, although this is a long way from the Midlands locations.

         

        Battle of Marston Moor 1644 (08×04)

        Battle of Marston Moor
        The Battle of Marston Moor painting. The battle was on 2 July 1644, during the English Civil War (1642-52) between Royalists and Parliamentarians. Oil on canvas by John Barker (19th century); 101.6×152.5 cm. Public Domain.

        More than a year passed before the Battle of Marston Moor in the north of England on 2 July 1644 turned the Civil War on its head. The open field battle ended in a Parliamentary victory.

        The Royalists’ defeat was all the more bitter because they had lost control of the north of England. The battle changed the course of the Civil War in the Parliamentarians’ favour, but they were unable to capitalise on it. Perhaps George Hartley, 4th Baron Bantling of Bantling Hall in Midsomer County, played a part in this. His descendant, Angela Hartley, tells Tom Barnaby in another episode that he fought for the Royalists but betrayed them at the Battle of Marston Moor.

        The other two Hartleys portrayed, the Barons of Bantling, were similarly disloyal: as already mentioned, Cecil Hartley was part of the conspiratorial network around Guy Fawkes in the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. We are about to meet Thomas Bantling, who fought for the rebellious English colonies in the War of Independence, although he was a soldier in the English army. The place, Dorney Court in Buckinghamshire, also belonged to the Palmer family, who were loyal to the King. However, there was no treason here. The Palmer estates were seized in 1646, but returned in 1657. The family still owns the estate today.

        The Secret of the Ring 2 and the synicate

        Perhaps, now that little Peter has grown up, he will program a sequel to The Secret of the Ring computer game, but with all the historical men (the scallywags, according to Angela Hartley)? Perhaps with the addition of the characters around the syndicate and the Bantling Boy – and himself? Could be a Midsomer Murders bestseller. 😉

         

        Battle of Aspern Tallow (03×04)

        Almost exactly a month later, the Battle of Aspern Tallow took place in the middle of Midsomer County. Aspern Tallow was filmed in the Oxfordshire village of Ewelme, near the Chiltern Hills. It’s a former Roman and later Saxon settlement mentioned in the Domesday Book. Back then, in Norman times, Bigod, Earl of Wallingford was probably the owner of the village. And the film location is also related to the Civil War, as the manor was occupied by Prince Rupert. The nephew of Charles I was born in Prague, but grew up in what is now the Netherlands.

        In the opening scene, Alan Bradford gives a tour of the parish to seven interested people, including Police Constable Angel, who is there in his spare time. He gives the tour from a Royalist point of view, although the Aspern Tallow area leaned Parliamentarian.

        We learn that at 3.30pm on 1 August 1644 the Battle of Aspern Tallow was over and the Roundheads were victorious. Many, many Royalists died, but not Jonathan Lowrie.

        Alan Bradford leads his group past a cottage, then along a footpath further into the village. But first he pauses to continue the story: Jonathan Lowrie was wealthy and in the King’s favour, but he had friends in Parliament. So he was able to make his way from the battlefield to his house in the hamlet down the lane where the group was standing.

         

        Demolished

        In the background, a bell rings and Eleanor Bunsall commands them to make way for her on her tricycle. Shortly after she has passed, Alan Bradford turns back to his group. As the group reaches the graveyard at Aspern Tallow Church, they listen to the story of Jonathan Lowrie’s life. It was here, in the graveyard, that the Parliamentarians found him and wounded him. He ran on through the graveyard, pursued by his attackers to his home, Aspern Hall. Alan Bradford’s party takes the same route, but in no hurry. They reach Aspern Hall, now the local museum, and go inside to a stone slab in the floor. Jonathan Lowrie was shot here and buried on the spot. It was his wish.

        This is where Jonathan Lowrie managed to escape to, Alan Bradford continues. The persecuted soldier shouted the name of his wife, Florence, when he was fatally shot by one of the Parliamentary Musketeers. And according to his wishes, he was buried where he died.

        Bradford points to the ground, where a marble tombstone is embedded. But a shock awaits Alan Bradford as he leads the group into the hall where a very large painting by Jonathan Lowrie hangs. In the middle of a sentence, the local historian stops his story and stares at the large portrait of Jonathan Lowrie, recently demolished.

        The next morning Tom Barnaby, Gavin Troy and Cully’s friend Nico Bentley are at Aspern Hall. Nico is accompanying Troy to rehearse his new role as Detective Sergeant in a play. Also present at Aspern Tallow are Alan Bradford, Sandra MacKillop and her brother-in-law Charles, as Alan Bradford leads them through the museum to the destroyed painting by Jonathan Lowrie. You can read on it: Jonathan Lowrie. Royalist, philanthropist, classicist.

         

         

        To be continued – read part 2.

         

         

        Read more about Midsomer Murders & History

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

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        • Midsomer Murders History Header Independence War

          A traitor from Midsomer in the American Independence War?


          (Caution: Contains spoilers for Episode: 08×04: Bantling Boy)

           

          We enter Bantling Hall with Tom Barnaby and Angela Hartley, because among the large gentlemen in oil on canvas is Thomas Bantling. One of the men of whom the lady speaks only with contempt. He fought as an Englishman in the War of Independence, but not for his country, but for the colonies that later became the United States of America.

          The other Hartleys, the Barons of Bantling, were similarly disloyal, as already mentioned: Cecil Hartley was part of Guy Fawkes’ network of conspirators in the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, and George Hartley was part of the Royal Army but betrayed it at the Battle of Marston Moor (the first and decisive victory for the Parliamentarians in the Civil War).

          Well, in the end the revolutionaries of the thirteen British colonies were also Englishmen who betrayed the King, but I suspect that Thomas Bantling spent his life in England but was either a collaborator or switched sides during the war.

          By the time the English colonies in America had declared their independence, most Whigs believed that America’s complete independence should be accepted. In the eyes of Angela Hartley, he was one thing and one thing only: a traitor.

           

          The beginning of the revolution

          Boston Tea Party
          “The Destruction of Tea at Boston Harbor”, lithograph depicting the 1773 Boston Tea Party, by Nathaniel Currier. Public Domain.

          From the 17th century, an increasing number of British emigrated to the east coast of what would become the United States. They were mainly Puritans who wanted to start a new and better life as settlers.

          A hundred years later, there were thirteen British colonies in America that wanted equal rights and autonomy from the English Parliament. Complete independence or a break with the English king was not their aim, but they did want their own currency, for example, to gain their own financial and economic sovereignty. This was prevented by the ban on minting coins, which had already been imposed on the colonies in 1704.

          Well, we all know about the Boston Tea Party on 16 December 1773, which really got the ball rolling. On 9 February 1775, the British government declared Massachusetts – the “hotbed of disloyalty” – a breakaway province, but this only increased the desire for economic and political autonomy. And in the Kingdom of Great Britain, the idea of conquering the colonies by force was quite popular.

          On 30 March, the British Parliament passed the New England Restraining Act to punish the most rebellious provinces.

          When 700 British soldiers arrived in Lexington at 5am on 19 April 1775, crossing the Charles River and the muddy swamp, officers from both sides faced each other. The order was not to fire, on either the British or the colonial side. But a shot was fired. In the ensuing battle, eight of the revolutionaries died and the American War of Independence had begun.

           

          Anti-British support for the colonies

          George Washington, now Commander-in-Chief, soon formed a Continental Army from the militia troops of the colonies, initially with 15,000 men – less than half the number who fought for the Kingdom of Great Britain. King George III bought some 30,000 troops from what was then Germany, most of them from the Landgraviate of Hesse-Kassel.

          The two million or so rebellious settlers were passionate, but they had no army of their own, no money and no war material. Unlike Cromwell’s New Model Army in the English Civil War, passion alone was not the key to success.

          And the colonies were no match for the British Empire in terms of tactics and manoeuvres. Nevertheless, they issued the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and formed the Confederation in 1777.

          France, which had an interest in weakening Britain in America in order to establish some colonies there, initially supported the revolutionaries financially and with weapons. But what was lacking was military training and discipline. In the winter of 1777, when the Continental Army was short of food, money and clothing, France sent Friedrich von Steuben, a native of Prussia, to America. During the winter, he trained the men in drill, military discipline, more effective use of firearms, and marching and column formation. Steuben himself was appointed major general and inspector general of the army.

          His training paid off within months, as the morale of the Continental Army was raised. At the same time, France was now actively involved in the War of Independence. Together, they turned the tide in favour of the revolutionary colonies. The British suffered increasingly from the fragmentation of their forces and supply problems, exacerbated by the entry into the war of France (1778), Spain (1779) and the Netherlands (1780).

           

          The triumph of the colonies

          Siege of Yorktown
          Panoramic View of the Siege of Yorktown by Jean-Antoine-Siméon Fort, 6 to 19 October 1781, by Jean-Antoine-Siméon Fort. Public Domain.

          The Continental Army was able to achieve great success by luring many troops into a trap far from their base. This was the case in 1781, when George Washington moved the army into Virginia, crossed the Hudson at the end of August, forced Sir Henry Clinton (the commander-in-chief of the British forces) to stay in New York with a feint, and moved himself across New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland to Yorktown. There he also met 3,000 French troops that Admiral de Grasse had made available until October and who had already gained control of the Chesapeake Bay.

          With French support, George Washington successfully besieged Yorktown and the troops there under General Lord Charles of Cornwallis. Cornwallis was a direct subordinate of Henry Clinton and had a history of disobedience. Whether his desire for an armistice on 19 October 1781 was part of this, I do not know.

          But the consequences for Cornwallis, Clinton, the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Thirteen Colonies were drastic: American independence, for which at the time Henry Clinton was primarily responsible, but in today’s historiography it is Lord Cornwallis who is held more responsible.

          Although the British wars with France and Spain for land in America continued for another two years, British forces in America were largely confined to a few ports and western forts, and fighting in North America largely ceased. On 30 November 1782, a preliminary peace was signed between the United States and the Kingdom of Great Britain. The Peace of Paris on 3 September 1783 finally ended the wars and the former British colonies became independent. Ratification took place on 12 May 1784.

           

          Who was the real Thomas Bantling?

          As mentioned above, we don’t know what role Thomas Bantling played in all this. However, the site of his home, Bantling Hall, is in Dorney, Buckinghamshire. The beautiful Tudor mansion, Dorney Court, has been on the National Heritage List since 23 September 1955 and stands on the site of a manor house that stood there before the Battle of Hastings. The Domesday Book mentions that it was first held by an Aldred and then, in 1086, by Miles Crispin, who leased it to a Ralf. It then passed through several families, but by the 17th century it was owned by the Palmer family, who still own it today. There is no reference to the Gunpowder Plot, the Battle of Marston Moor or the War of Independence. Just this: The Palmer family were royalists during the Civil War and their estates were confiscated in 1646, but returned in 1657.

          In general, I have been unable to find any Buckinghamshire collaborators who fought for the Americans in the Revolutionary War. However, there was the 52nd Regiment of Foot from Buckinghamshire, a light infantry regiment of the British Army, which saw its first action in the American War of Independence. They were present at Lexington at the start of the war and only remained in America until 1778.

          After that, the surviving soldiers were reassigned to other regiments and the officers returned to England. It is possible that Thomas Bantling travelled to the other continent as part of this regiment, but then switched sides.

          The Secret of the Ring 2 and the synicate

          Perhaps, now that little Peter has grown up, he will program a sequel to The Secret of the Ring computer game, but with all the historical men (the scallywags, according to Angela Hartley)? Perhaps with the addition of the characters around the syndicate and the Bantling Boy – and himself? Could be a Midsomer Murders bestseller. 😉

           

          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.

           

          Literature

          • Ferling, John: Almost A Miracle. The American Victory in the War of Independence. Oxford 2009.
          • Guttridge, G. H.: The Whig Opposition in England during the American Revolution. In: The Journal of Modern History 6 (1934). P-1-13. URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/1872174
          • Namier, Lewis. England in the Age of the American Independence. London/New York/Shanghai 2004.
          • NN: Parishes: Dorney. In: William Page (Ed.): A History of the County of Buckingham. Volume 3. London 1925. P. 221-225. URL: https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/bucks/vol3/pp221-225
          • Stephen Conway, The British Isles and the War of American Independence. Oxford 2000.

           

           

          Recommend my website or give some feedback

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

             

             

             

          • Midsomer Murders History Header Railways

            Midsomer’s Old Railways


            (Caution: Contains spoilers for Episode: 08×01: Things That Go Bump in the Night)

            Railways Britain
            Map of the London and North Western Railway and Caledonian Railway systems, about 1900. Public Domain. (Click to enlarge it.)

            Joyce and Tom Barnaby are guests of Elizabeth Key in Fletcher’s Cross. They go out of the cottage into the garden. Elizabeth Key carries a tray with three cups and saucers, sugar bowl and creamer. Joyce carries the teapot in her hand. The two women walk side by side in front, Tom Barnaby with his hands in his trousers behind.

            The Barnabys admire the garden and the location and Elizabeth Key enlightens them that back then in Victorian times, there was a railway just behind a row of trees near the house. Joyce is startled and apparently imagines express trains. But back then they were only steam locomotives, of course. However, the line was later closed.

            Now, the railway is to be partially restored and Fletcher’s Cross Station reopened. We learn later at the railway inauguration festival that it is mainly thanks to James Griss! But he is not quite respected in Fletcher’s Cross because he is a bit of a show-off.

            Barnabys and Elizabeth Key sit down at a small table and set it and talk about Elizabeth’s parents and the upcoming meeting of the Spirit of Friendship Group. Just before the scene change, you hear the rattle and toot of a steam locomotive, but you don’t see it.

            A steam locomotive is also seen in Great Worthy in another episode (14×03: Echos of the dead), but without any further information about the railway system there.

             

            Fancy a travel through time and Midsomer?
            Midsomer’s Old Railways is just a glimpse into the full history of Midsomer – want to see the full chronology?

            Then click here.

             

            Old, new railway stations

            The episode takes up a rather topical theme – both at the time of filming and the first broadcast and today. In the 19th century, the construction of railways was booming, even in rural areas, but in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, many of these railways were closed down because they were no longer lucrative enough.

            Especially since the turn of the millennium, there have been repeated initiatives to reopen these disused stations. Though the plans always fail to materialise because demand remains too low or costs too much to open. And that is also the difficulty in Fletcher’s Cross. That’s why James Griss is talking to potential investors.

            Some former railway stations become museums – like Quainton Road Railway Station, now Buckingham Railway Centre. Fletcher’s Cross station was filmed there. The name of the village is Old English for Queen’s Estate. It presumably refers to the estates of Edith, who was the wife of King Edward the Confessor.

            A good 800 years later, in 1860, the Aylesbury and Buckingham Railway Company was founded and the line opened 8 years later. Initially it only connected the Wycombe Railway (Maidenhead-Abingdon) in Aylesbury to the south and the Verney Junction of the Buckinghamshire Railway (Bletchley-Banbury-Oxford) to the north. In 1899 a junction was added to the north just beyond Quainton station, linking the line with the Great Central Main Line (Sheffield-London).

            Unlike the connection from Fletcher’s Cross to Causton, the Aylesbury and Buckingham Railway had no connection to Wallingford, 30 miles (about 50 km) away, which is known to be the filming location for Causton.

             

            Quainton Road Railway Station

            Buckinghamshire Railway Centre
            Ravenseft: Quainton Road Railway Station, Buckinghamshire, 2008. CC-BY SA 2.0.

            Quainton Road Railway Station was one of six stops on the Aylesbury and Buckingham Railway. Although it opened in 1868, it was not worthwhile in this underpopulated area and yet it was probably the most important stop on the line. It had a special status because the Brill Tramway started here – or ended here, depending on which way you were travelling.

            The Brill Tramway’s main purpose was not to transport people, but goods. The Dukes of Buckingham were all interested in railway construction and this new means of transport. Their new estate, Waddesdon Manor, was being planned and was to have its own railway station nearby. Because of lobbying, the planned line was extended to Brill.

            The tramway overcame a first financial decline of the line due to newer and faster connections to London and the north of England, as it was modernised and the trains now travelled 7.5 mi/h (12 km/h) instead of 4 mi/h (6.4 km/h). This meant that goods were now taken from Brill to Quainton in 40 minutes.

            The tramway became part of the London Metropolitan Railway. Therefore part of the London Underground even as late as 1933, although 40 mi (64 km) from London and this train route was anything but underground. But two years later it was over. When the last train left Brill Station on its way to Quainton on 30 November 1935, hundreds of people watched and some members of the Oxford University Railway Society travelled from Oxford to get a last ticket.

             

            A new life as a museum and well-known film location

            After the Brill Tramway was closed, Quainton Road Railway Station also lost its importance. However, the station was closed to passengers in 1963 and to local goods in 1966. Three years later the Quainton Road Society was formed with the aim of preserving the station and started The Buckinghamshire Railway Centre as a museum. In 1971 the London Railway Preservation Society took over its collection of historic railway equipment, which included many locomotives, and passenger and non-passenger rolling stock.

            Thanks to the society, Quainton Road is one of the best preserved railway stations in England. It is also still part of the railway network and can be booked for special events. As a film location it was not only used for Midsomer Murders, but also for Doctor Who and other films and shows.

             

            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

            The Rail Map Online maps historic transport maps and lists the so many railways in the UK, most of which no longer exist today. See: https://RailMapOnline.com/

             

            Literature

            • Oppitz, Leslie: Lost Railways of The Chilterns. Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire. Newbury 2017.

             

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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.