Sherlock Holmes’ London.
221b Baker Street. Where is this street, where is this house? It’s elementary: in London.
The subway instead of the cab.
Though the great detective Sherlock Holmes is mentioned in the series of novels and stories about him probably more often than any other detail of London landscape, nowadays a proper coach (not a cab car of the same name) is seen not so often in the streets of London as coachmen in Moscow.
In the times of Sherlock Holmes there was already subway in London, but this mode of transport was clearly inferior to keb. The smoke and soot from the steam locomotive was worth nothing. Today the London Underground no longer runs on steam traction, so a true fan of the great detective just a sin not to visit the station “Baker Street”. It is, however, heavily rebuilt, but during the next reconstruction on the walls of the station appeared thousands of tiles, decorated with the profile of the most famous inhabitant of the world-famous street.
From the subway you walk out onto Marylebone Road, where there is a bronze monument to the great detective in a glorious cap, a glorious cape, and a glorious pipe in his teeth. It’s a stone’s throw from here to the museum.
A house with a non-existent address.
“The next day we met, as arranged, and examined the rooms at 221b Baker Street. The apartment had two comfortable bedrooms and a common spacious, bright, comfortably furnished living room with two large windows” (“A Study in Crimson”) – here and below quotations from the works of Arthur Conan Doyle are in italics.
There is not, nor has there ever been, a house on Baker Street in London with the number 221b. In Conan Doyle’s time, the numbering stopped at 100. According to one literary version, the great detective “lived” in house number 21 (the two in the numbering was added for conspiracy purposes). Alas, today there is no such number. There is number 19-35, assigned to an expensive and ugly modern office building. The house with number 221b could only have appeared after 1930, when Baker Street lengthened, but of course that’s a bit late for Holmes.
There’s not much left of Holmes and Watson’s time in Baker Street at all – the Luftwaffe pilots did their best. But they didn’t bomb some houses and it is exactly in such, correct mansion of 1815 that the Sherlock Holmes museum now works. It is located between houses 237 and 241. And all the letters sent by fans to “Mr. Sherlock Holmes, 221b Baker Street, London, England” are delivered here.
There are four floors in the museum building. The first floor, according to our account, from the outside slightly resembles a pub, but the sign makes no mistake: “Sherlock Holmes. Museum and Gift Shop.” In the store you can buy books about the great detective (in English) and postcards with illustrations to these works, and a great variety of souvenirs. There are things for sale that allow you to feel like a consulting detective, including tobacco Sherlock Holmes, three pipes of which will certainly help you solve the most difficult problem.
Using the deductive method, even on a complicated map of the London subway, it is easy to figure out the name of the station next to which this monument stands
The museum starts on the second floor, behind a green Victorian door. Above it are two lanterns (looking just like gas lamps, but with electric bulbs inside), and on it is a sign, “221b, Baker Street, Sherlock Holmes, Consulting Detective.
There are exactly seventeen steps between floors, which Holmes knew and Watson did not. “You’re looking, but you’re not observing, and that’s a big difference,” Holmes reproached his companion, citing as an example that he did not look under his feet coming up to him from the vestibule (“A Scandal in Bohemia”).
The museum attendant is dressed in Victorian costume. The interior furnishings of Mrs. Hudson’s “furnished rooms” have been restored in minute detail. Let’s check it out – a file cabinet on dangerous criminals, a bent poker, a metronome, chemical reagents, a magnifying glass, a valise with lock picks, a Stradivarius violin, books (the very authors that Conan Doyle mentioned). A monogram of Queen Victoria made with a Webley revolver (“which did not improve the atmosphere or the interior of the room” – according to Watson).
The most remarkable peculiarity of the museum is that visitors are allowed to touch everything, take a seat in Mr. Holmes’s favourite armchair and be photographed wearing his famous cap (or Watson’s bowler). In the rooms (somehow it’s hard to call them museum halls) you can find wax figures depicting Holmesian characters. In its place is a wax bust shot with a blowgun. The shot, as you know, came from the house across the street.
And of course, it’s hard not to notice the photo of “that woman” – Irene Adler.
From the museum to the place where it all began
From Holmes Street we start our journey through Holmes’ London.
We turn from Baker Street to Wigmore Street. On this street we are interested in the post office that Watson visited, and Holmes guessed about it using his famous deductive method. “Observation showed me that the soles of your shoes are stained with reddish clay. And outside the post office itself on Wigmore Street, excavation work is just in progress” (“The Sign of Four”).
On Wigmore Street we proceed until we turn onto Welbeck Street, and on that to the intersection with Bentinck Street. We stop at the intersection. Here was one of the attempts on the great detective’s life, prepared by Professor Moriarty’s underlings. “I saw a semi-truck rushing at a frightful speed straight at me. I barely had time to bounce onto the sidewalk. A split second and I would have been crushed to death” (“Holmes’s Last Case”).
The London museum won’t disappoint those who’ve seen Soviet films about Holmes.
You only have to walk one block and turn off onto Queen Anne Street to reach the next landmark, house No. 9, where, after marrying Mary Morston, Dr. Watson took up residence. “I was then living on Queen Anne Street” (“The Shining Client”). The street has retained a proper Victorian appearance. Today, real estate on it is affordable to people for whom the treasure chest of Agra is not such an expensive thing. Judging by the door signs, several of Watson’s colleagues and one namesake (not a doctor, though, but a realtor) live on the street.
After walking down the street to the end, you’re just a few minutes from the Langham Hotel. In Victorian times it was the most luxurious and prestigious of London’s hotels, quite worthy to receive, for example, the King of Bohemia, traveling incognito, under the name of Count von Kramm. It was the same hotel where Watson’s father-in-law, chief officer of the Morstan Prison Regiment, stayed on his return from India. The hero of the story “The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax” also stayed here. And in August 1889, in the restaurant of this hotel, Arthur Conan Doyle signed a contract for the publication of his novel The Sign of Four.
From the Langham Hotel we go to Regent Street. Holmes and Watson noticed a suspicious kebman following Sir Henry Baskerville in that street, but failed to apprehend him.
Number 68 Regent Street was home to the Cafe Royal (until November 2008). Arthur Conan Doyle dined here. And his character was attacked by two scoundrels near the restaurant. They “were armed with sticks and stabbed Mr. Holmes in the head and torso, inflicting wounds that the doctors consider very serious” (“A Lusty Customer”).
Quite nearby, in Piccadilly Circus, there is a restaurant with a bar called Criterion, which Watson mentions: “I decided to leave the hotel and find myself some more unpretentious and less expensive accommodation to begin with. The day I came to that decision, someone tapped me on the shoulder at the Criterion Bar. When I turned around, I saw a young Stamford, who had once worked for me as a paramedic at Barts” (“A Study in Crimson”). Barts is St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, the oldest in London, founded, scary to say, in the twelfth century. By the way, the hospital building is decorated by a memorial plaque, testifying that the first meeting of Holmes and Watson took place in its chemistry laboratory. There is also a plaque on the restaurant wall: “Here on New Year’s Day, 1881, at the Criterion Long Bar, Bart’s paramedic Stamford met with Dr. John H. Watson and referred him to immortality and Sherlock Holmes.”
From Scotland Yard to Covent Garden
From the Criterion Bar we head toward Trafalgar Square. On the way we pass Pall Mall street. Somewhere on it there was a unique club of silent lovers “Diogenes”, the member of which was the great detective’s brother Mycroft Holmes.
From Trafalgar Square we walk along Whitehall Street, and then turn the corner into Great Scotland Yard. And we find ourselves in front of the entrance to the magnificent Victorian building where the unforgettable Inspector Lestrade once worked.
Cane hats for hunting mottled venomous snakes have been in fashion for over a century
Not far from the former Scotland Yard, at the corner of Craven Street and Northumberland Avenue, was the Mexborough Hotel, where the Stapleton couple had stayed (The Hound of the Baskervilles). And at the next intersection, on the corner of Northumberland Street and Craven Passage, was the Northumberland Hotel, where Sir Henry Baskerville had stayed on his arrival from America. It was here that poor Sir Henry’s two clogs, a light brown and a black, disappeared at once. Apparently, the hotel failed to regain the public’s confidence after this terrible event that happened to the guest, and ceased to exist. But literally on the same intersection where the hotel was once located today is the Sherlock Holmes Pub. I would advise to go to this lovely place even to those who have minimum time to see Holmes’s sights in London, putting the pub as number two on the list of places to visit (after Baker Street). The drink, of course, is a Sherlock Holmes ale. The food is not the strong point of this pub, as well as the rest of the UK. The main thing in the pub is the setting that includes such wonderful things as a reconstructed office of the great detective with a wax figure shot by Colonel Moran, photos of Holmes and Watson roles in various film adaptations of the Holmesiana. You can also see things that “belonged” to the great detective and admire a handful of earth brought from the Reichenbach Falls (understandably, any pub-goer will distinguish Reichenbach earth from, for example, from Hyde Park at a glance).
In Craven Passage Lane near the pub, the Turkish baths mentioned many times in the Holmsian were located in Victorian times.
From the pub we go to the Strand (by the way, most of the works about Sherlock Holmes were first published in the magazine with the same name – Strand Magazine). Here we will see another luxury hotel – Thistle Charing Cross Hotel (under Holmes the first word was absent in the name). In this hotel the great detective set a trap for the great international spy Hugo Oberstein.
In the lanes of the Strand was the Charing Cross Hospital, where Holmes was taken after the attack at the Cafe Royal, described above. It is now the police station (corner of William IV Street and Agar Street).
On the Strand, at No. 100, is (180 years ago) the Simpson’s Restaurant, aka Simpson`s-in-the-Strand, mentioned twice in the Holmesian. The bad thing is that the restaurant is badly remodeled inside and there is no way to get a table by the window overlooking “the stream of life flowing down the Strand”. As Holmes did in his story “The Shining Customer”.
Our next destination is the Lyceum Theater on Wellington Street, not far from the Strand. “Be at the third column tonight, on the left at the entrance to the Lyceum Theater. If you are afraid, take two friends with you. You have been treated unfairly. It must be corrected” (“The Sign of Four”). The two friends of Miss Morston, who received this note, are known to be Mr. Holmes and her future spouse.
Finally, Wellington Street, which turns into Bow Street, leads to Covent Garden, or rather Covent Gardens, the market and the opera. The market once sold geese with carbuncles inside. There are now two of these markets. They trade in the new market, 5 km from the old one. And the old building, familiar to Holmes, Watson and Breckenridge, is now a tourist attraction of the souvenir and snack type. The old market adjoins the Covent Garden Opera House, which the amateur violinist Sh. Holmes loved to visit.
Map and route of Sherlock Holmes in London
Sherlock Holmes, born from the pen of Arthur Conan Doyle, is one of the world’s most recognizable and beloved literary characters.
In the more than one hundred years since the hero’s imaginary life, London has changed dramatically. Witnesses of Sherlock Holmes’s charming and dangerous city – buildings, cultural institutions and commercial establishments that have become part not only of the literary universe, but also an integral, living history of the British capital – remain to this day.
Below is a small overview of Sherlock Holmes’ London. It is roughly divided into two parts. The first includes actual museums, monuments and places dedicated to Sherlock or related to his author. The second, “literary”, will be some of the points of the city described in the novel. Almost all of the locations can be visited on a tour based on the story of the books and movies (suggested at this link).
Sherlock Holmes Museum.
Located at 221b Baker Street, the museum is a neat four-story brick house built in 1815. Inside, visitors will find painstakingly recreated interiors filled with antiques and recognizable items from Conan Doyle’s heroes. The living room and the rooms of Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson, and Mrs. Hudson are available for viewing. Free photography is allowed, although permission from the museum staff is required to use the furnishings.
There is a souvenir shop with a good range of souvenirs: postcards, small trinkets for memory or quite a substantial gift, for example a hunting hat of Sherlock or a collection of adventures of the detective in English. Tickets are £6 for adults and £4 for children under 16.
Opening hours : daily (except Christmas) 9:30 to 18:00.
Sherlock Holmes statue.
Like many other fictional but much-loved characters, Sherlock received a bronze statue on “his” street in 1999. The statue depicts the full-length detective as a tall, thin man in a hunting hat, pensively smoking a pipe. The sculptor is John Doubleday. A great place for a commemorative photo.
Sherlock Holmes Pub.
The building was once the Northumberland Hotel, where, according to the text, Sir Henry Baskerville rented a room. It closed long ago and today it’s a wonderful pub with traditional English beers and snacks. The Sherlock Holmes sitting room on the second floor has been recreated (based on the famous Marilebone Library collection), access to the exhibits is restricted by glass.
Address : 10 Northumberland St, Charing Cross, London WC2N 5DB.
Open 12:00-23:00 (Mondays to Thursdays and Sundays) and 12:00-00:00 (Fridays and Saturdays).
Arthur Conan Doyle’s Homes and Practices
The writer’s first home is at the corner of Montague Place and Bradford Square. The second is a welcoming brick building in South Norwood. It had a blue circular plaque on it, telling the story of a prominent tenant.
His first medical practice was centrally located on Weymouth Street, not far from where the characters in the books acted. The writer may have noticed some of them on his daily commute to work.
Great Scotland Yard
Historic building in Great Scotland Yard. The center of Sherlock’s London law enforcement life, leaving plenty of work for the brilliant private investigator. There’s talk that a five-star hotel will open in it, but until that happens, you can look for suitable accommodation here.
Address : 4 VWhitehall Place.
Covent Garden Opera
The famous London opera house, which has had a glorious artistic history since the 18th century, is now one of the world’s most prestigious stages. Holmes is known to have loved Wagner and to have been here.
Address : Bow St, Covent Garden, London WC2E 9DD.
Simpson’s in the Strand
The restaurant has been serving Londoners and visitors for a couple of centuries. Holmes and Watson dined here several times, which can be considered a sign of good service given their inquiring minds.
Address : 100 Strand, London WC2R 0EW.
Open daily from 12:00 to 23:00.
Lyceum Theatre (Wellington Street)
A famous London theater built in the 18th century, an important landmark in British drama. It was here that a secret meeting between Dr. Watson and Miss Morrison was arranged. Anyone can imagine it by assigning as a landmark the third column on the left.
Address : 21 Wellington St, Covent Garden, London WC2E 7RQ.
Corner of Welbeck and Bentinck Streets
Sherlock Holmes was the victim of an unfortunate assassination attempt, much to the delight of all readers, when he was almost crushed by a fast moving van pulled by two horses.
Baker Street Metropolitan Line station
An old London Underground station. Banker Alexander Holder came to meet Holmes using the subway. What’s interesting, the modern decoration of the station uses tiles decorated with the characteristic profile of the detective – in a hunting hat and, of course, with a pipe.
A prestigious hotel in central London, opened in 1865 with a rich history of famous guests: writers, aristocrats and the rich. Conan Doyle, who visited Langham, also lodged there several characters – Captain Morstan, the King of Bohemia, Philip Green. The hotel building was a beautiful architectural monument of the Victorian era and is worth a visit.
Address : 1C Portland Pl, Marylebone, London W1B 1JA.
A luxury hotel cafe in central London which has become even more expensive over the last hundred years. Sherlock Holmes, however, wasn’t treated too well as he was beaten with sticks by two thugs not far from the place and escaped through the back door of the cafe. Luckily it doesn’t happen again and tourists can take a walk without fear.
Address : 10 Air St, Soho, London W1B 4DY.
St George’s Hanover Square Church
Beautiful Anglican cathedral in the heart of the city. Site of a not-so-happy wedding between Lord St Seymon and Hattie Doran. Sherlock, though he does not save the marriage, establishes by deduction a true picture of what happened.
Cox & Co. (Cox and Co.).
In one of the cells Watson kept valuable documents for history – the memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.
Address : 16 Charing Cross Road.
Charing Cross station
An important node in the world of Sherlock – the heroes of various works (especially Holmes and Watson) regularly find themselves here, coming, going, meeting and having other adventures. Sherlock, for example, had his left fang knocked out here in the waiting room.
Charing Cross Hospital
This hospital was chosen by Conan Doyle as James Mortimer’s place of work. It’s also where Sherlock was given the care he needed after a treacherous attack near the Cafe Royale.
Address : at the corner of the Strand, William IV St. and Agar St.
An old bar and restaurant with a rich history, traditions and decor. At one of its tables Watson first heard about Sherlock Holmes from his friend Stamford, this event radically changed the doctor’s life. Sadly, the place is closed.
Address : 218-223 Piccadilly, St James’s, London W1V 9LB.
This concludes our list, if you wish you can book a tour of all the places and with no queue entrance to the Sherlock Museum (offer at this link).