Episode:  A Sacred Trust

(Season 14, Episode 7, 2011 in UK – in US/Canada Set #22)


Producer: Jo Wright

Director: Renny Rye

Writer(s): Rachel Cuperman, Sally Griffiths

Based on characters in Caroline Graham novels

Cast: Neil Dudgeon, Jason Hughes, Fiona Dolman, Tamzin Malleson

Guest cast: James Blakely, Martha Macintosh, Joanna David, Fiona Glascott, Susan Sheridan, Rosalind Knight, Michael Colgan, Emma Davies, George Irving…

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA): Not rated.

Runtime: approx. 100 minutes per episode.

Genres: Crime drama/Mystery


Review by Larry Jung

(June, 2014)

During the night vandals have thrown beer bottles damaging the stained glass windows of Midsomer Priory, the local and historic chapel.  This act of vandalism brings DS Jones (Jason Hughes) of the Causton police to investigate.  But he is unexpectedly turned away by Mother Julian (Joanna David), the head prioress.  Jones asks if she doesn’t want those responsible caught.  Mother Julian is content to pray for them.  Jones leaves his card just in case.  The next day Jones is called by Mother Julian.  He expects that she has changed her mind about catching the vandals, but is surprised when she brings him to a dead body by the chicken coop. It is Mother Thomas (Susan Sheridan). DCI John Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon) arrives to head the investigation and immediately suspects Mother Julian and the two other nuns are hiding things from him. 

Jones discovers that the local rich, bad boy was the one who probably was responsible for breaking the chapel windows because he was caught having sex on church grounds by one of the nuns.  Humiliated in front of the school girl he brought with him, plus losing his trousers, could he have been driven to also murder the nun?

It turns out that the local parish priest Father Behan has no love lost for the nuns.  He complains that Mother Julian and the other three nuns are living like aristocrats in their huge Tudor building.  He thinks the nuns look down on him as a peasant because their order is descended originally from French aristocrats.  When Barnaby asks if this bothers him, Father Behan says it amuses him.  But Barnaby can see the enmity the Father has for the nuns. 

 Later Mother Julian reports the theft of the priory’s 17th century French silver altar set. This consists of two 3 foot silver candle holders, a silver platen, and a silver goblet estimated to be worth 60,000 pounds.  How does the theft of the silver connect, if at all, with the murder of the nun and the vandalism of the chapel windows?  And what of the sighting of a stranger asking for directions in the village recently?  A woman wearing old fashioned clothes and a beret.

 “A Sacred Trust” shows that the long running UK television series MIDSOMER MURDERS is alive and well.  Neil Dudgeon is the new DCI John Barnaby.  His character replaces the popular DCI Tom Barnaby played by John Nettles.  There were comments when this series was shown in the UK about the new Barnaby, but I was pleasantly surprised how well I liked the new Barnaby.  For one thing, Neil Dudgeon and Jason Hughes have an on-screen chemistry.  This makes for fun interchanges between the two and good natured ribbing by Barnaby.  As an outsider, Barnaby relies on Jones for local knowledge and advice.  John Barnaby is often amused and sometimes bemused with the locals and their peculiar country ways.

The mystery is convoluted and rooted in the past, like most of the episodes in this mystery series.  The red herrings are abundant.   Hallowed institutions like the Midsomer Priory clash with the economic and social realities of modern Britain.  Beneath the charm of the pastoral English countryside and villages of Midsomer, Barnaby and Jones find jealousy, envy, lust, greed, and pride.  All this is played with a light touch and great fun.  The acting is first rate.  The locations are picturesque.  Neil Dudgeon’s DCI John Barnaby is friendly, a smart copper, and happily married.  The whodunit is well done.  What better way to spend 90 minutes?

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