Spotlight: 6 Things to Know About the Real Grantchester
You've seen Sidney and Geordie take a swim in the Cam, nurse their pints in a pub, and picnic on the Grantchester meadows. Now, go deep into the bucolic hamlet that inspired it all, and learn 6 facts that only Grantchester superfans, insiders, locals, and history buffs might know!
1. Vicarious Vicaring
As Season 1 of Grantchester was filming, the village's then real-vicar, Reverend Stuart Mews, retired. Whether faced with a vicar vacuum or simply charmed by James Norton's portrayal of Sidney Chambers, a few of the villagers solicited the actor to fill the job. Norton recalls, "I had a lot of the villagers asking me, semiseriously, whether I would consider taking on the role for real. And I, half seriously, thought, 'Maybe I could!' If the acting doesn't work out..."
2. Public Knowledge
Among Grantchester village's small handful of local pubs are The Green Man (the location of many a backgammon/pint pairing on the show) and the Orchard Tea Garden, once a gathering place for some of England's brightest early 20th century minds. Alongside regulars Ludwig Wittgenstein, Bertrand Russell, Virginia Woolf, EM Forster, and John Maynard Keynes, was poet Rupert Brooke, who penned the famous poem "The Old Vicarage, Grantchester." Virginia Woolf dubbed this group of writers and thinkers the "Neo-Pagans."
3. From the Meadows to the Moon
Before British psychedelic prog rockers Pink Floyd recorded The Dark Side of the Moon, they released "Grantchester Meadows," a pastoral ballad featuring acoustic guitar, the chirps of skylarks, and lyrical, nostalgic vocals. The meadows of the song reference the same verdant landscape that Sidney cycles through en route to a promising clue, a parishioner in need of comfort, or a pub in which to drown his sorrows.
4. A River Runs Through It
The River Cam, home to punters, anglers, and swimmers like Sidney and Geordie, was originally called the Granta; Grantchester was a Roman settlement whose name is derived from Latin meaning "camp along the Granta." The Cam is as pedigreed as it is recreational: it features in Geoffrey Chaucer's "The Reeve's Tale" from The Canterbury Tales.
5. Fossil Fuel
Long before dashing British actors and even scholars rambled through Grantchester's meadows, they were likely walked by…dinosaurs! The late nineteenth century saw the region's scholars, landowners and even clergy excavating "corprolites," which were thought to be fossilized dinosaur droppings.
6. Prize Population
Grantchester can boast another population of behemoths as well: intellectual giants! Sidney and Geordie's fair village in real life is home to more winners of the Nobel Prize than anywhere else in the world!