By Angela Youngman
Fancy walking in the footsteps of Sherlock Holmes? Here are five London locations where you can do this! Go for a drink in the Sherlock Holmes pub or at the Criterion Bar; roam along Baker Street, The Strand or take a boat ride along the Thames.
Sherlock Holmes dominates this street. Leaving the tube station, a bronze statue can be immediately seen. Further down the street is the most iconic location of all – 221B Baker Street. For years the Abbey National Building
Society existed at no 221B and a secretary was employed to answer fan letters. When the Abbey National moved its headquarters in 1990, the local authority allowed the number to be given to the Sherlock Holmes museum, which is situated between 237 & 241 Baker Street. Inside, the first floor study carefully recreates Holmes study as well as lots of items linked to Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes. Interestingly, this building did not actually exist when Conan Doyle wrote the books – street numbers only went up to 100!
The banks and wharves of the River Thames are used in countless Sherlock Holmes stories. In The Sign of Four there is a dramatic chase along the river. Although the buildings have now been modernized, the river is still as dominant as it was in Victorian times. Tower Bridge (in its half built state) even featured in Robert Downey Jr’s film version of Sherlock.
The Strand, London
Apart from Baker Street, this is the street that is most associated with Sherlock Holmes. It is mentioned in 8 of the 60 stories written by Conan Doyle. Watson lived for a while in a hotel in the Strand, while Baskerville purchased new boots at a bootmakers. In Resident Patient, Holmes and Watson stroll along the Strand and Simpsons was Sherlock’s favourite restaurant. All the stories were published in The Strand magazine, and the illustration on the front of the magazine showed St Mary Le Strand Church in the distance. Just round the corner from the Strand in Wellington Street, is the Lyceum Theatre where Miss Morston, Holmes and Watson met Thaddeous Sholto in the Sign of Four. It is also where the first notable Sherlock Holmes actor – American William Gillette – played Sherlock Holmes in front of an audience which included Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Writing in a Study in Scarlet, Watson recounts “I was standing at the Criterion Bar, when someone tapped me on the shoulder, and turning round I recognised young Stamford, who had been a dresser under me at Bart’s’. During the subsequent conversation, Watson hears that a man named Sherlock Holmes is looking for someone with whom to share a flat. History is made!
Sherlock Holmes Pub, Northumberland Street, London
Originally this pub was a hotel known as the Northumberland Arms. Sir Henry Baskerville stayed here when visiting London to meet Sherlock Holmes. It is also where Holmes identified a mysterious stranger in The Noble Bachelors. The name change came in 1957 following the Festival of Britain. There had been a major display of Sherlock Holmes items in the Festival, and when it ended, they were moved to the Northumberland Arms.
Angela Youngman is a writer and journalist with numerous books linking travel and literary/film sites. She is the author of In the Footsteps of Sherlock Holmes.
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