Sherlock's haunts revealed
Tuesday, 12th September, 2017
OCTOBER marks the 125th anniversary of the first Sherlock Holmes book, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, a collection of 12 short stories by Arthur Conan Doyle.
If you're a Sherlock Holmes fan here are the locations you should aim for when visiting Britain:
- 221B Baker Street is Holmes' base in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories and all subsequent screen adaptations. The address doesn't actually exist but walk down busy Baker Street to number 237-41, and you'll find the Sherlock Holmes Museum. Inside is a recreation of the master detective's disorderly study, filled with odd Victoriana, plus Dr Watson's much-tidier quarters.
- At Baker Street's underground station there's a three-metre tall Sherlock statue - deerstalker cap as standard - with which you can pose. Just steps away is Madame Tussauds, where a waxwork figure of Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch is accompanied by a murder-mystery challenge in the basement. The Sherlock Holmes Experience features period-style actors and a case for visitors to solve.
- It's at St Bartholomew's Hospital in east London where Holmes first encountered Dr Watson. The roof of "Barts" as it is universally known, was later utilised by the BBC for the climax of Sherlock's second series as the place where Holmes supposedly leaps to his death. That promontory isn't open to the public, but you can imitate Martin Freeman's Watson by gazing up from ground level.
- Back in central London, Benedict Cumberbatch and Co used the townhouse at 187 North Gower Street to double as 221B Baker Street. Many scenes were also shot inside the adjacent Speedy's Sandwich Bar & Cafe, where you can enjoy breakfast. For lunch, try the Sherlock Holmes Pub near Piccadilly Circus: Sunday roasts are served every day beside a life-size replica of Holmes' office.
- In 1901, Arthur Conan Doyle visited dramatic Dartmoor National Park in the south-western county of Devon, walking 16-18 miles a day to scout possible locations. The result is his best-loved Holmes novel, The Hound of the Baskervilles, in which bleak bogs and jagged hills lend a haunting backdrop. Unique Devon Tours runs guided day trips to the key spots, including the real-life Grimpen Mire. The nearest station, Torquay, is three hours by train from London.
- Baskerville Hall, meanwhile, is reckoned - not universally - to have been based on what's now the beautiful Baskerville Hall Hotel in mid Wales. Conan Doyle regularly stayed at the then country house, and was supposedly regaled with a hound-based legend during one visit. The hall is a two-hour drive north from Cardiff.
- Conan Doyle was born in Scotland's classical capital city, Edinburgh. A bronze Sherlock statue commemorates the childhood home on Picardy Place. It was also at Surgeons' Hall Museums where Conan Doyle met Joseph Bell, chief inspiration for Dr Watson.
- At Britain's southern edge is Portsmouth, 90 minutes by train from London Waterloo. Conan Doyle wrote his two inaugural Holmes novels here, while setting up a doctor's practice on Elm Grove. That building was destroyed during World War II - a plaque marks the spot - but there's plenty to see at Portsmouth Museum, where a bevy of books, photographs and memorabilia form part of the Arthur Conan Doyle Collection.
- Wales' capital, Cardiff, has more recent associations with Sherlock Holmes: it has been a main filming location for all four of the BBC's series. Cardiff Castle, which hosted a confrontation with Moriarty, has tours available, while you can also walk in Sherlock and Watson's footsteps at the National Museum Cardiff, which is free to enter.
- Another regular haunt for BBC's cameras has been Bristol, 50km east across the Severn Estuary. The city's constant cameos date back to the debut episode, when Holmes encounters Moriarty in Bristol South Swimming Pool. It is in leafy Queen Square that Emilia Ricoletti (otherwise known as the Abominable Bride) shoots at passers-by, while Portland Square stages the bonfire from which Holmes and Mary retrieve Watson. The Bristol Film Office's walking trail covers a host of locations.