221B Baker Street
221B Baker Street, the home of Sherlock Holmes, has been one of the most famous addresses in Great Britain for over 125 years. Truth be told, he never lived there. The World’s Only Consulting Detective has never actually lived anywhere. Well, that’s not strictly true, Sherlock is a fictional character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle but he first came to life in the imagination of readers in 1887. He remains so to this day and is known worldwide.
I must confess that I’ve been in love with Sherlock Holmes for almost fifty years and on a recent adventure in London, I was excited to visit a few places that Sherlockians know well. First on my list was 221B Baker Street, the site of the Sherlock Holmes Museum. It contains three floors of delightful Victorian rooms filled with artifacts from Conan Doyle's stories, plus a gift shop on street level.
Seventeen steps up from the street is Sherlock's sitting room, used for client consultations. There sits Sherlock's desk with John's medical bag open on the chair. Before the fireplace a low table holds the detective's deerstalker and the doctor's bowler hat as well as a magnifying glass. Within reach of his chair are Sherlock's violin and microscope. The walls are filled with client photographs and memento display cases. Sherlock, a collector of weapons, has many pistols, one of which he keeps hidden in a hollowed out book. One of the most recognizable, if not shocking artifacts, is the stuffed head of the Hound of the Baskervilles. Quite unusual.
Sherlock's bedroom is likewise filled with case artifacts, including his stage make up kit and a parson's hat, from one of his many disguises. The next floor up is John Watson's room with several tableaus of full size figures in period costumes. Particularly fascinating is the arm which holds a lantern and hangs from a trap door in the ceiling. The Victorian toilet is in the attic where leather suitcases are stored under the eaves.
Visitors are invited to roam through the flat taking photographs and a housemaid stands by ready to serve. It's easy to imagine Sherlock and John's imminent return as a small table by the window is set for their afternoon tea. Before you depart, be sure to leave your card on the silver tray and sign the visitor's registry so Sherlock will know you've called.
The Game is On!