Monday, January 7, 2008


The 'Cadfael' mysteries are set at an actual abbey in Shrewsbury, which was founded late in the 11th Century. In 1147, the bones of St. Winifred were brought there from Wales to be housed, and that event served as the inspiration for the very first "Cadfael" book by Ellis Peters, "A Morbid Taste For Bones".

So Brother Cadfael, although a fictional character himself, is working in very real settings - in much the same way as we can say the same for Columbo in Los Angeles or Adrian Monk in San Francisco.

And as such, he has come into contact in the series with historical personages. In fact, right from the very beginning he had the occasion to meet King Stephen (in "One Corpse Too Many").

However, today's nugget of information concerns two regular members of the cast who turn out to be actual characters from the pages of History - Abbot Herribert and Prior Robert, who served in those positions at the Abbey at the time when Cadfael would have been there in 1138.

I'm not sure the actual Prior Robert would have been too pleased with his televersion however. He seems like he could have been the spiritual template for Major Frank Burns of 'M*A*S*H' - a thick-headed, wrong-headed bureaucrat always at odds with Cadfael.

Toby OB


Mercurie said...

I always loved the Cadfael series.I knew Abbot Herribert and Prior Robert were historical personages. If you ever get the chance you should read Ellis Peters' original novels. They are fantastic.

Toby said...

Thanks for checking in, Mercurie! I've been thinking that I should check out those books - but after I finish the series. (At the very least the seven or so that were never filmed.)

I've learned from the 'Harry Potter' series of books that if I'm to enjoy the movies, I can't know what's about to happen - the third and fourth were ruined for me as I had read the books. So I'll go back and finish the other three novels once the films have run their course.

And the same would go for the Cadfael novels. It wouldn't be because of the mysteries I'd be reading them anyway, so no worries as to having that spoiled for me. I'd be more interested in immersing myself into that world.....