Research of the Finest Kind

Jessie: In NH until I fix the furnace at the house in Maine!

Recently I had the extraordinary privilege of visitng the U.K. in the company of one of my beloved children. My son had spent the semester studying abroad in Scotland and had invited me to come to visit just as his school year was coming to an end. I love to visit with my son, I love to travel and I have a special place in my heart for the United Kingdom so I jumped at the chance. The opportunity to visit was especially welcome as I have a new series set in England releasing on Halloween. The entire trip was a wonderful research opportunity!

My son surprised me entirely by researching a day trip form Oxford to Thame, the village where many episodes of Midsomer Murders have been filmed. We spent a wonderful morning touring the same streets both Inspectors Barnaby have wandered. If you would like to take a tour yourself check out!

We also spent three days in Oxford exploring the territory familiar to Insector Morse, his younger self Endavour as well as his successor Inspector Lewis. We even enjoyed a pint or two at The White Horse, Morse’s favorite pub. The pub had the added distinction of being right near the Bodleian! A booklover’s paradise!

I thought I would share some photos with you of my trip, especially those things that set a mystery lover’s heart aglow!

Many readers of mystery fiction seem to be fans of television mysteries as well so I am sure many of you can relate to my enthusiam for the Oxford of Morse and Endeavour and the village of Thame, Oxfordshire of Misdomer Murders fame! Enjoy!

Readers, have you ever taken a literary journey? Have you ever visited places filmed for a favorite mystery program? If not, where would you go if you could go anywhere with a mystery theme?


33 Thoughts

  1. What a delight! I walked by 8 Baker Street in London on one year, and I’d love to try to find Three Pines…or some re-creation of it, maybe.

      1. I agre. We are planning a trip to Eastern Canada for 2018. Maybe we will find ourselves in Three Pines, lol.

  2. Your trip sounds just perfect. Your son is an impressive trip planner. And yes, many of my travels turn into book scene tours, too, whether I planned it that way or not. I finally got to Oxford a few years ago, after many trips to England. Walked past the Child and the Eagle, the pub of CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien, went to the Radcliffe Camera where a scene in Gaudy Night took place and went to the Ashmolean Museum for other reasons….and immediately recognized that it had been used for several episodes of Inspector Lewis. Funny end of the day? I watched an episode of Lewis that night in my hotel and there is was, standing in for some invented Oxford institution!

    1. I know just what you mean, Triss! We had the same experience of feeling deja vu in Oxford and Thame and then again when watching the programs set there. My son and I stopped in one evening at The Eagle and Child. It was special.

  3. I have been to both Oxford and Cambridge and wandered around the colleges where Gaudy Night and Inspector Morse mysteries took place. Saw people punting along the river Cam. I also have been to Castle Howard in Yorkshire where Brideshead Revisited was filmed. Gorgeous house and gardens.

  4. Goodness, Midsomer is really only one or two places? I watch it (Monday nights!) in part because of the architecture, and it varies so much (I also watch to see where the weekly “corpse in the copse” will turn up). I once spent a weekend in Oxford, staying in one of the houses. Tolkien was still there then, and I wish I’d gone looking for him. And I traveled in the South of France and spent a night at Les Baux, thanks to Mary Stewart’s Madame, Will You Talk? Yes, I was up early to watch the sun rise, per her story.

      1. Ahem. Just returned from Crete, and have also been to Delphi. Did some Mary Stewart re-reading for both trips. And of course the other great Mary – Mary Renault.

  5. When I was in 5th grade I read Tom Sawyer when we were visiting family friends in Hannibal, Missouri. We then toured the cave, went to the fence Tom convinced everyone to paint, and took their boat out to the island that is called Jackson’s Island in the book. And while living in Bedford, Massachusetts I took advantage of some of my favorite literary sites Orchard House, the Old Manse, Walden Pond, and the Wayside Inn. Thanks for sharing your trip with us!

  6. What an amazing trip! And how sweet of your son to plan it.
    Where is the Agatha Christie memorial? I was in London this past winter – went to Baker Street (felt a bit goofy, but was in good company with hundreds of other Sherlock fans).
    One of my biggest literary thrills was on a long ago family vacation when we visited The House of the Seven Gables in Massachusetts. Very atmospheric and spooky to my 10 year old self.

    1. Despite of having lived in Massachusetts for large chunks of my life, I didn’t take the tour of the House of Seven Gables until last year. Loved it! Especially the Secret Staircase.

  7. What fun! Thanks for sharing.

    When I graduated from college, my college graduation present was a trip for the entire family to Europe. One of our last stops was a place that Mrs. Pollifax had visited in one of the books I’d read the summer before. And one of our first stops was Corrie ten Boom’s house, made famous in her autobiography The Hiding Place.

      1. A tour based on Mrs. Pollifax? I love the idea! This was just one stop, but think of all the countries you’d get to visit. Then again, some of them are still dangerous even today, so maybe it would have a little more adventure than I want in my life.

  8. Since my mystery series is about Salem, and I was born there, research comes naturally. Next time, please visit the Ropes Memorial Mansion, My first job (at 13) was as a guide there. It began a lifelong interest in antiques. Next job was across the street at The Olde Salem Bookshop! What a perfect place for an avid reader and future writer! Worked there until college. (The book store is long gone, but the mansion is still open for tours.) When I was doing travel articles/guide books I researched wonderful places, but have never set a novel in any of them. Hmmmm. maybe someday?

    1. I have never been to Salem but you make it sound like perhaps I should do so! And it sounds like you might be on to a great new series!

  9. Jess, thx for the snaps from one of my favorite places in the world, Oxford. I set my first Nora Tierney there as Morse is such an inspiration.
    Another great trip is heading to Devon to stay at the beach in Torquay. A vintage bus tour takes you to the Dane’s house there, Greenway, used in one of the last Poirot’s Dead Man’s Folly. The house is filled with her music, books, personal things, down to her clothes in the bedroom closet. Cards are thrown down on the coffee table as if the players will return at any moment. Lovely.
    And if you like Midsommer– who doesn’t?– the head writer, Anthony Horowitz’s new book is a great read: Magpie Murders has a 1950s mystery inside a contemporary mystery, with tons of wry references to Christie!

  10. What a wonderful son you have! I’ve never been on a literary tour, but I would love to Agatha’s settings, and of course walk in the footsteps of Sherlock Holmes.

    1. And now that I’ve read the other comments, I realize that I’ve been to several literary places: Hannibal, Salem, and Walden Pond.

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