London is almost another character in both Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories and in the BBC1 hit series Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. As the largest Sherlock Holmes exhibition in half a century opens at the Museum of London (Friday 17th October), curator Alex Werner tracks down the locations made famous by the great detective.
221B BAKER STREET
187 North Gower Street NW1 2NJ | Nearest Tube station: Euston Square
“Baker Street features very prominently in the stories,” says Werner. Although there are plenty of tributes to Holmes in the vicinity (including a life-sized statue outside Baker Street Tube station and tiled images of the detective in his deerstalker on the platforms), Sherlock’s house in the BBC1 series is not actually here. Instead, you’ll find it 25 minutes away on North Gower Street, next door to the real Speedy’s Sandwich Bar & Café as seen on screen, where you can pop in for a Sherlock wrap.
Nearest Tube stations: Charing Cross, Embankment and Temple
“This is one of the most important areas in the stories,” says Werner. “Watson and Holmes leave from Charing Cross station on a number of occasions, and stroll along the Strand. The area along the Embankment was being redeveloped in the late 19th century, and there were a lot of hotels facing the river, the most famous being the Savoy.” Holmes and Watson appear near here in the Sherlock episode The Great Game, where they vault the railings on the eastern edge of Waterloo Bridge.
“This is where the first major Sherlock exhibition in the UK was held,” says Werner. “Inside one of the rooms, they’ve re-created 221B Baker Street. It’s a shrine to Holmes, and it has lots of features in it that are accurate to the original story.” Previously known as the Northumberland Arms, Holmes tracked down Francis Hay Moulton here in The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor. Aside from visiting Holmes’ study (complete with long black jacket, old service revolver and a mounted head of the Hound of the Baskervilles!), you can also try the Holmes-themed restaurant (serving Mrs Hudson’s homemade steak and ale pie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s ham, egg and chips).
“In the story The Illustrious Client, Holmes and Watson go for a meal at this restaurant,” says Werner. Originally opened in 1828 as a smoking room, Simpsons-in-the-Strand started serving traditional grub in 1850, and remains one of the oldest English restaurants in the city. In Doyle’s story, Watson and Holmes are “looking down at the rushing stream of life in the Strand”. Today, guests can try carving classes or eat roast beef in one of the elaborate high-ceilinged chandelier- dressed rooms.
10 Broadway SW1H 0BG | Nearest Tube station: St James’s Park
Inspector Lestrade, from the tales of Sherlock Holmes, worked in Great Scotland Yard, where the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police Service were based. The headquarters have since moved, but are named New Scotland Yard after the location of the previous offices. Located near St James’s Park, the exterior has featured in Sherlock episodes including The Blind Banker, The Great Game and The Reichenbach Fall. In homage to the great fictional detective, the Metropolitan Police’s crime database is named the Home Office Large Major Enquiry System, or Holmes for short, and the training program is named Elementary, after Sherlock’s catchphrase.
SHERLOCK HOLMES EXHIBITION
17 October—12 April 2015, Museum of London, 150 London Wall EC2Y 5HN | Nearest Tube station: St Paul’s
This is the largest Holmes exhibition for 60 years. Special items on display include the Belstaff coat and dressing gown worn by Cumberbatch in the BBC1 series, a rare oil portrait of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle painted by Sidney Paget in 1897, and original pages from Edgar Allan Poe’s manuscript for The Murders in the Rue Morgue. “It’s something that Doyle would have read as a boy,” says Werner. Doyle based the character of Holmes partly on Auguste Dupin, the detective in Poe’s 1841 story.“This should give the public some idea about where it all comes from.”