Grantchester church

Grantchester, the TV series

For lovers of the whodunnit genre in a historical setting, the Grantchester TV series is an absolute delight. The sequel is based on the Grantchester Mysteries by James Runcie.

This detective series plays in the fifties of the last century. I think the spirit of the times seems well captured in the series, including the undisguised racism, homophobia and sexism of inspector Geordie Keating. The village vicar, Sidney Chambers, assists the inspector in various murder cases while keeping him on the right moral track.

But even the honourable Sydney struggles at times with his calling. Alcohol, jazz and women are his biggest pitfalls.

Grantchester, a historic village near Cambridge

The series plays in Grantchester. The village is close to the university city of Cambridge. And the great thing is that the place looks exactly like on television. The church of St. Andrew & St. Mary, the Blue Ball Inn, the cricket fields and the meadows next to the Cam River all play a part in the series. It is easy to recognize the thatched roofs, half-timbered houses and the vicarage exterior.

Grantchester Meadows

From Grantchester, it is a smooth 20 minutes walk along the river Cam to the centre of Cambridge. Herons, swans and probable punters will keep you company. Follow the sign river walk.

 

Cambridge punting

Cambridge University

Parts of old Cambridge, such as King’s College, the Mill (pub), and the narrow cobblestone streets, are recurring parts of the set. In short, walking through the village and its surroundings is a celebration of recognition. At least if you follow the series.

But even if you’re not glued to the TV, Grantchester is a nice trip if you happen to stay in Cambridge for a few days. The medieval buildings, nature and the many pubs make this an attractive place. Moreover, the village is said to have the world’s highest concentration of Nobel Prize winners. Most of which are probably current or retired academics from the nearby University of Cambridge. 

Cast Grantchester series

James Norton plays the pastor in the first four seasons. He is pleasant to look at, but James is also perfect for this role for several reasons. Apart from drama in London, he also studied theology at Cambridge University. In the fifth and final season, Tom Brittney (as Will Davenport) takes over the role of the vicar. He also falls into the ‘eye candy’ category.

Robson Green plays the adulterous veteran, inspector Geordie Keating.

Pubs, restaurant and B&B’s in Grantchester

Grantchester has 606 inhabitants (source). With five businesses in the hospitality business, this is probably the highest pub/resident ratio in England.

On bank holidays and during the weekend the place can get crowded. So if possible, go during the week.

Blue Ball Inn, pub, B&B and restaurant

The Blue Ball Inn has been a pub for 250 years, making it the oldest pub in Grantchester. In the winter, enjoy your ale by the crackling fire. Have a Gin & Tonic on the terrace overlooking the meadows in the summer. Lunch cost around ten pounds. The Blue Ball Inn has two bedrooms.

If the Blue Ball Inn has no place to spend the night, head to neighbouring Trumpington:

 

Anstey Hall Trumpington

Green Man, music and so on

Green Man was a typical British Pub, with pub grub, ales and live music on weekends.

Orchard Tea Garden for afternoon tea

The Orchard Tea Garden is the ideal place for your afternoon tea. However, just be warned that when I visited the Orchard Tea Garden and parked there, I was fined 100 pounds even though I followed their instructions to the letter: i.e. I was a customer (I bought a coffee paid by bank card), registered my car at the till and left within two hours, all following their instructions as indicated in the car park. I still got fined 100 pounds. I appealed and sent my bank statements showing the purchase of the coffee. However, I did not take a picture of the car register, so I can’t prove that I registered. The appeal was rejected, making this a costly coffee, and I won’t return there.

Rupert Brooke, lunch with a view

Rupert Brooke is different from the other places mentioned above. The restaurant has a modern feel to it. The rooftop terrace is great for lunch on a sunny day.

Red Lion, also for children

The Red Lion has a thatched roof. Muddy boots, dogs and children are welcome. There is a playground at the back of the garden.

Grantchester Red Lion

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