Thame is one of the most frequently used filming locations for the popular ITV series, Midsomer Murders. The town regularly features, either as Causton, or as any one of the many villages in the fictional Midsomer County. Many Thame landmarks have been featured in different episodes over this time, including Thame Town Hall, the Market House, Rumsey’s Chocolaterie, the historic Swan, Black Horse, and Spread Eagle hotels, together with many other locations.
6.5 million people watch Midsomer Murders in the UK and millions more worldwide. It’s one of the UK’s biggest TV exports, and when people see it on TV, they want to come and visit the beautiful towns and villages of Midsomer, such as Thame. While here, they spend money in our restaurants, pubs, hotels, and shops – which is good for the town and its economy.
In 2016 Thame had already started to harness the potential of the ‘screen tourism’ generated by Midsomer visitors, providing self-guided walking tour leaflets, the opportunity for selfies outside Thame Town Hall (aka Causton Town Hall) with a specially created Causton Town Hall sign, as well as the change to enjoy a ‘Barnaby Bun’ at Rumsey’s Chocolaterie, There were still lots of other great ideas to explore so, in June 2016, a highly successful Midsomer Workshop hosted by 21st Century Thame, covered by BBC South Today, BBC Radio Oxford and other media. The event, attended by over 50 local businesses and residents, provided an opportunity for participants to consider how they could benefit from the Midsomer Murders tourist trail.
One of the recommended ideas that came out of this workshop was the proposal to develop a guided Midsomer Murder’s tour in Thame, and in 2017 a group of dedicated volunteers launched just such a tour under the auspices of 21st Century Thame. The tours were developed from an original tour created by David Dodds, a trustee of Thame Museum, and provided a walk around Thame to see many of the 21 locations in the town centre used in filming, sharing their Midsomer connection as well as some interesting insights into Thame’s history at the same time.
2017 was a roaring success, with six trained volunteer tour guides taking 200 people on Midsomer tours, attracting people from the UK and from overseas, including visitors from Germany, Denmark, Australia, and Canada. The tours continued throughout 2018, including a new partnership with Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway that attracted both individuals and Coach Parties of people to a Midsomer walking tour of Thame, followed by a steam train trip from Chinnor Railway (another filming location) with a classic cream tea on board.
Tickets for the tours are £7.50 each. The tours are run by volunteers who don’t take any income. Instead, fund’s raised go towards publicity and administration costs with any surplus being split between worthy causes in the Town and Thame Museum, who are the starting point of the tours. In the first year of running the tours donated over £360 to the Mayor’s Charities and a similar sum to Thame Museum.
These tours are certainly adding a new dimension to tourism in the town, attracting more visitors from the UK and overseas to the historic town of Thame.
For more information on availability of tours look at www.ticketsource.co.uk/thamemidsomer. If the advertised tour times don’t fit in with your itinerary, tours can be arranged for groups of 4 or more people on other days. For more information, or if you would be interested in becoming one of the tour guides, or supporting this venture in other ways then contact contact Tony Long at [email protected].
An updated version of the Visit Midsomer leaflet, covering locations in Thame and in neighbouring villages is available free of charge at the Town Hall Information Centre and Thame Museum, as well as at local hotels, pubs, shops and cafes. An online version can be downloaded from www.thametowncouncil.gov.uk, www.thamemuseum.org or www.visitmidsomer.com.