Sherlock Holmes Museum

Sherlock Holmes is the memorable character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who lived at the fictional address, 221B Baker Street, London from 1881 to 1904.

Tina S
Tina S
Feb 5, 2010
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Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson are detective characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. According to the books, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson lived at 221b Baker Street, London between 1881-1904. The building at 221b Baker Street is open as a museum dedicated to the life and times of Sherlock Holmes, and the interior has been maintained exactly as described in the published stories.

But in Holmes’s day, the Baker Street numbers stopped at 85. Number 221B Baker Street, where Mrs Hudson kept her lodging house, was the invention of Holmes’s creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Then in 1930, number 221 was created by the incorporation of Upper Baker Street into Baker Street itself. The building so honored was, however, soon demolished, and odd numbers 215 to 229 were assigned to the new Abbey House, headquarters of the Abbey Road Building Society (later the Abbey National, now simply Abbey) from 1932. Letters to Sherlock Holmes poured in from all over the world, in such numbers that Abbey House decided to appoint a “secretary to Sherlock Holmes”.
221B Baker Street

All was well until 1990, when the Sherlock Holmes Museum opened just down the road at number 239. Determined to lay claim to Sherlock Holmes's address, the museum gained the right to put the appropriate number on the door by the expedient of registering a company by the name of 221B Ltd.
But Abbey House was not ready to relinquish its role as guardian of the great man’s memory without a fight. Matters came to a head in 1994, when the Sherlock Holmes Museum failed in its attempt to be officially designated number 221B Baker Street.

And the building society was not doing a bad job in honoring the illustrious detective, even commissioning in 1999 the bronze statue which now stands outside Baker Street Tube Station. But when Abbey moved on in 2002, the wrangling ended. Since then, no one has been in any doubt that the Sherlock Holmes Museum occupies the Sherlock Holmes address.

There was once a bronze plaque on the wall of Abbey House. Under a profile of the detective was a brief quote from the account given in A Study in Scarlet by his friend and chronicler Dr Watson of how he and Holmes took up residence at number 221B Baker Street.

The Museums

Now the four story building is dedicated to the life and works of Sherlock Holmes, and is decked out in full Victorian style. The museum is accessed via the shop, on the ground floor, which sells an abundance of Holmes related books and memorabilia.  It does involve a fee, but it’s relatively minimal compared to other museums.

There are three floors of exhibits, including lots of traditional Victorian pieces and well chosen artifacts representing Sherlock’s detective days. For example, you can see the stick that was said to belong to Dr Mortimer in the Hound of the Baskervillesand the club that was used to kill Colonel Barclay in The Crooked Man.

The first floor study was described in the books as overlooking Baker Street, so it has this position in the museum. It’s been effectively recreated to look like the study Sherlock Holmes had, and Conan Doyle so intricately described in his writing. The study is a very atmospheric room, from the traditional wallpaper and gaslight-like lamps, to the armchair by the fire and desk packed with books, an old copy of The Times, ink bottles and decorative items.

Items mentioned in the books, which people tend to associate with Holmes, are also easy to spot in both his study and his bedroom. These include his deerstalker, magnifying glass, pipe, disguises, chemistry kit and violin.

It wasn’t only Sherlock who was said to have lived in the house though, as his faithful partner in crime, Doctor Watson, lodged there too, along with their landlady, Mrs Hudson. The museum doesn’t forget them. There is a ‘real life’ Doctor Watson, dressed to the nines in Victorian costume, who will be happy to have his photo taken with you. And Doctor Watson’s and Mrs Hudson’s rooms, on the second floor of the museum, can be explored as well.

The third floor has wax models which were made to represent other characters that appeared in the books, such as Professor Moriarty and Sherlock himself. Although they’re not quite up to the standard of the wax works at Madame Tussauds, they do give an extra element of interest and bring to life names and characters from the novels.

Unlike a lot of other museums, many of the artifacts aren’t tucked away in glass cases, but are on display more freely, which helps create the impression that you really are wandering through the characters rooms.

Although the museum can be visited by anyone, fans of Sherlock Holmes and Conan Doyle’s novels will probably get the most out of a visit, as so many of the exhibits reference elements of the books or cases he investigated. The museum is so realistic that you can begin to forget that you’re looking at the fictional home of a fictional character, and not actual people who once lived here.

Location And Hours Of Operation

The Sherlock Holmes Museum is located at 221 Baker Street, London, England.

Opening time:May 2-Oct 15: daily, except Mon, 1.30pm-6pm. Closed on Jan 1, Dec 24 and 25.
Admission charges are: Adults 6 Pounds British Sterling. Children, (Under 16), 4 Pounds British Sterling.

Disabled Facilities

Physically disabled people in a wheelchair would have difficulty in gaining access to the Museum. The shop on the ground floor is easily accessible.

Further Information:
The Sherlock Holmes Museum, 221B Baker Street, London NW1 6XE
Telephone 01+44+207 224 3688


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