Cuddington | Buckinghamshire

Cuddington on Location

Cuddington has been featured in a number of films and television dramas, most notably Midsomer Murders from Bentley Productions.  Thanks to Ian Meikle for the photos of the Midsomer Murders shoot in the panel above.

  • The characters leave the Bernard Hall at the end of the inquest
  • Sir John Gielgud as the Vicar of Marchbolt, welcoming his congregation inside St Nicholas’ Church
  • Wellfield House as the nursing home where Bobby Jones recovers after drinking from a poisoned bottle of beer
  • Francesca Annis and a nurse outside Wellfield House
  • Bethany is the location for an estate agent’s
  • James Warwick and Francesca Annis with Doris Hare as Rose Pratt, outside Tibby’s Cottage
  • On the trail of Evans, Francesca Annis and James Warwick return to Marchbolt…
  • …and keep watch outside Tyringham Hall
  • Another shot of Francesca Annis and James Warwick in Upper Church Street as they get out of their car
  • James Warwick outside The Pitchings, turned into the “Orient Café”
  • In this scene the Vicar takes his son to task for not finding worthwhile employment
  • James Warwick and Sir John Gielgud inside St Nicholas’ Church
  • A close-up of Sir John Gielgud in the church.  Peggy Cattell recalls that she received quite a glare from him when she accidentally burst in on him during make-up
  • James Warwick as Bobby Jones, the son of the Vicar, “playing” the St Nicholas’ Church organ
  • Francesca Annis as Lady Frances (Frankie) Derwent, arriving at the Bernard Hall – the venue for an inquest in the story
  • A close-up of Francesca Annis outside the Bernard Hall
  • Francesca Annis and James Warwick
  • An interesting view of Upper Church Street in 1979.  Note the petrol pumps and the pink “Red Lion” pub
  • Another view of Upper Church Street, with the premises next to the village shop turned into the Marchbolt undertaker’s
  • Another scene outside The Pitchings, as Frankie ponders the identity of the killer

Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?

This adaptation of the Agatha Christie who-dunnit was filmed in 1979 by London Weekend Television and broadcast in March 1980.  The production had a budget of one million pounds – a large sum for the time – and featured a stellar cast including Sir John Gielgud, Francesca Annis, Connie Booth, Bernard Miles, Eric Porter and even Joan Hickson (in a minor role).

Much of the plot centres around the fictional Welsh seaside town of Marchbolt – and most of the town’s scenes were filmed in Cuddington.  This was probably the first occasion on which the village was used for a location shoot, and provides a fascinating glimpse of how the village looked thirty-plus years ago.

The Bernard Hall provided the location for an inquest.  St. Nicholas Church (in which Sir John Gielgud was the Vicar!) had quite different lighting and seating, and petrol pumps still stood outside Annie Bailey’s – then named The Red Lion.  The front aspect of Wellfield House looked completely different, with no trees in the front garden, and made the perfect setting for a nursing home.  Tibby’s Cottage was portrayed as the cottage of Rose Pratt – played by Doris Hare, well known at the time for her role in the sitcom On The Buses.  Bethany was the setting for an estate agent’s, while The Pitchings became the “Orient Café”.

Cuddington Stores becomes Great Pelfe Post Office 

Midsomer Murders

Cuddington has so far featured in the following Midsomer Murders episodes:

  • ‘Death in Disguise’   (The Crown)   May 1998
  • ‘Death of a Stranger’   (Bernard Hall, Cuddington Stores)   December 1999
  • ‘Death & Dreams’   (Bernard Hall, Tibby’s Cottage)   January 2003
  • ‘Birds of Prey’   (Great Stone House)   January 2003
  • ‘Bad Tidings’   (Bernard Hall, Tyringham Hall, The Old Place)   January 2004
  • ‘Shot at Dawn’   (St. Nicholas Church)   January 2008
  • ‘Talking to the Dead’   (Bernard Hall, Tyringham Hall, Cuddington Stores)   May 2010
  • ‘Not in My Back Yard’  (Cuddington Stores)   January 2011

Further details in the Midsomer Murders Locations Index

Oliver Twist

On 3rd May 1999, Upper Church Street was transformed into the Barnet High Street of the 1830s for the filming of a television production of the Dickens novel.

Several dozen villagers were recruited as extras for the shoot and were fitted out with full Victorian costume for the day – including the customary top hats or bonnets!

Angela Sanderson wrote this report of her day as an extra:

“The early May Bank Holiday dawned fine and warm – a wonderful day for relaxing, taking things easy, sitting around in the garden perhaps, but for Charles, Angela and Katie Sanderson this was to be an unusual day. We were about to be transported back to the 1830s, to the days of horses and carts, breeches for the men and long dresses for the women, and hats for all: and to Barnet High Street in particular. Yes, we had been chosen to play 'extras' in the latest film production of Oliver Twist (William, at 6ft 4ins had deemed himself too tall for those days and thought the cricket pitch might be a better bet!).

“As we left Spurt Street to head towards Nether Winchendon, where costumes and make-up were to be donned, what a transformation met our eyes. In a few short hours the top of Upper Church Street had become a village of the 19th century – a dusty dirty road, wooden railings around the Hall, market stalls with fruit, pies, poultry and bread, and sheep and cattle penned and ready for sale.   Old lanterns were in place, and there was a wonderful signpost on the green directing people to such places as Hampstead, Richmond and of course to Barnet.  It all looked so realistic until, on our return from Nether Winchendon, we saw the group of directors, producers and cameramen together with a large gathering of interested onlookers in very modern dress and many with cameras themselves.

“We extras waited in a group while the director decided who he wanted to play which role and where he wanted us to be.  To me it was rather like being picked for a school team – ‘Please don't let me be the last!'. Charles disappeared early with Myles Saker - two smart gentlemen whose job it was to walk slowly up and down Church Street: they set off with a bit of a swagger, but after the 14th or 15th take perhaps that swagger had just the hint of a limp! Katie didn't take very long to find herself a good-looking husband and two children, and spent a happy afternoon in their company - ensuring at all times that they were as near to Oliver as possible – watch out for a pale green dress in some of the close-ups.

“As for myself, it was hardly a role swap – a typical country wife with rosy cheeks, a floral dress and a mob cap. But oh, the stays underneath the dress: definitely shades of Vivian Leigh in 'Gone with the Wind' here (remember the bedpost and the maid pulling tighter and tighter?). However, it wasn't all bad news: I liked the new waistline and the support for a tired back was wonderful, but I'm not sure I'd want to wear them every day!

“I suppose we rehearsed and filmed for about three hours all told, which did become just a little monotonous, but we had to admire the quiet professionalism of the film crew. They were meticulous in their demands, and we had to try to remember exactly where we had been and what we had done in each take so that any re-take would be more or less identical. To liven up my afternoon a bit I managed to conceal a camera underneath my apron so as soon as I heard the word "Cut!" out it would come. I have some good pictures: John Alien makes an excellent squire, Myles and Charles appear to be not altogether trustworthy, and Upper Church Street looks for all the world as if it really was 160 years ago.

“The afternoon was long and tiring, but an experience we were all glad to have: it was a great opportunity to do something none of us had ever done before.   A pint at The Crown soon restored out spirits, and now we are wondering when the next film crew will be arriving in Cuddington.”

(Reproduced by kind permission of Village Voice)

Thanks to Peggy Cattell for the photos on the left.