Things to do around London: tracing Sherlock Holmes
The famous sleuth might only be a fictional character yet London without Sherlock seems unimaginable. Rebecca McWattie explores all things Sherlock in the capital.
Since Sherlock Holmes made his first appearance in A Study in Scarlet in 1887 he quickly became one of the most well loved fictional characters in English literature. Arthur Conan Doyle wrote 56 short stories and four novels featuring the great detective all of which have been translated into numerous languages and are still widely read around the world. Surely the fact some people actually think he existed and lived in 221b Baker Street is the greatest compliment Conan Doyle’s masterful characterisation could ever receive?
The Victorian public were enthralled by Sherlock’s acute perception which never failed to lead him to the culprit. Sherlock was soon becoming a legend – Strand magazine published an illustration of Holmes sporting a deerstalker hat, something he was rarely seen without in subsequent television and film dramatisations. Holmes was also rarely seen without his friend and advisor Dr Watson, the narrator in the guise of Sherlock’s biographer in many of the stories.
Writers have since tried to emulate this close relationship, just think of Agatha Christie’s Poirot and Captain Hastings. Poirot, like Sherlock was also famous for solving crimes Scotland Yard found too baffling, was equally eccentric in his mannerisms and dress and always solved the crime at the last possible moment with a dramatic reveal ending. Both Holmes and Poirot were regarded as genius minds who embraced their knowledge of human nature and science – as a young man Arthur Conan Doyle had studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh and was fascinated by how science might improve the reliability of criminal evidence.
Holmes things to see & do in London:
See the statue of Sherlock Holmes which stands over 9 feet high outside Baker Street underground station
Visit The Sherlock Holmes Museum at 221b Baker Street and more curiously The Sherlock Holmes Pub in Northumberland Avenue, a stone’s throw from Old Scotland Yard. The pub has a replica of Holmes’ and Watson’s study complete with many artifacts lent by the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle family, including Dr Watson’s old service revolver and the stuffed and mounted head of the Hound of the Baskervilles. The study is adjacent to the restaurant and diners are able to view the whole study through a large glass partition.
Follow in Holmes’ footsteps by dining at the historic Simpson’s in the Strand.
Become a member of The Sherlock Holmes Society who have been meeting regularly at various London locations associated with Holmes & Watson since 1951.
And why not take a trip to Lock & Co Hatters, established 1676, to purchase your very own tweed deerstalker (£115).