The Radio Times logo

Discover the real Grantchester - from punting to pubs

James Norton, Robson Green and producer Diederick Santer tell us about their favourite things to do in the Cambridgeshire village logo
Published: Sunday, 23rd April 2017 at 7:45 pm

Based on the novels of James Runcie, ITV drama Grantchester is set in the picturesque Cambridgeshire village of the same name, on the River Cam. Harking back to postwar Britain, the series follows the adventures of inquisitive vicar Sidney Chambers (James Norton) and his friend, gruff police officer Inspector Geordie Keating (Robson Green).


Norton is very familiar with the area, having studied at Cambridge University just a couple of miles away. “It was a fortuitous coincidence,” he says. “I studied theology at Fitzwilliam College, and Sidney also studied theology at Cambridge. It was lovely to go back, it’s sort of a home from home.”

Robson Green also took to village life. “The place has all those kind of clichés, it’s picture-postcard and there really is birdsong in the meadows," he says. "I loved filming there. It’s got a real sense of place and there’s just something, obviously, quintessentially English about Grantchester and Cambridge."

It sounds idyllic, but where to start? Norton, Green and series producer Diederick Santer recommend five jolly things for a visitor to do...

Punt along the Cam

“You can punt from Cambridge all the way up to Grantchester,” says Norton. “If you can, do it with James,” laughs Green. “He’s the greatest guide ever. One afternoon, he took me for a punt – I never thought I’d say that! He told me about his time in Cambridge and what he did and the kind of shenanigans he got up to while he was studying there. I could have listened to him for ages.”


Picnic in the Grantchester Meadows

“We use the Meadows every time we see Sidney cycling through the green, flat landscape", says Santer. "There’s a song by Pink Floyd called Granchester Meadows, so we’re not the first people to have noted their beauty. It’s the ideal sort of place for a picnic.”

Choose from dozens of cottages in Cambridgeshire

Click here to seach our cottage website

Time for a drink

“There are three pubs in Grantchester,” says Norton. “Each has different locals and its own little community. The Blue Ball Inn has this ancient game where you swing a hook from one side of the pub to the other.”

Santer is partial to a pint in the other local drinking spots. “I’d recommend the Green Man and the Red Lion, too,” he says, “and the Orchard Tea Garden. There has been a tearoom on this site since the 19th century, more than 120 years ago. There are these lovely deckchairs and you can sit there among the apple trees and order ginger ales and a Stilton ploughman’s. It’s a lovely setting. Sometimes we’d sit in the corner of the tearooms, planning the future of fictional Grantchester, while real Grantchester kind of carried on.”

Watch a cricket match

"It’s a really lovely place to watch cricket,” says Green. “There’s a beautiful cricket pitch in the village and in the last week of filming [series one] the village challenged the film crew to a match," says Santer. “James and Robson were our opening batsmen.” “I got four runs!” Green interjects. “Our kind of rag-tag team of assistant directors and electricians and actors took on the might of Grantchester village,” Santer continues. “We did OK, but we did lose.”


Get on your bike

“Station Cycles is right by the railway station in Cambridge and is the place to hire a bike,” says Santer. “This is what we would do when we were storylining the series. We’d get off the train, go into Station Cycles, hire bikes, cycle to Grantchester and sit in tearooms, as if we were in a story in the show.”

Grantchester is on Sundays on ITV at 9pm

Choose from dozens of cottages in Cambridgeshire

Click here to search our cottage website



Sponsored content