An Elementary Guide to Sherlock Holmes' London

"Education never ends, Watson. It is a series of lessons, with the greatest for the last."

By Google Arts & Culture

P. Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan. 1869-1930.LIFE Photo Collection

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective, was created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in his 1887 novella, A Study in Scarlet. Holmes would go on to star in four novels and more than fifty short stories, as well as countless plays, films, TV shows, and witless jokes and puns.

2 Upper Wimpole Street

Doyle didn't start out as an author. He was a trained ophthalmologist, and tried to open a practice in London at 2 Upper Wimpole Street (then known as Devonshire Place). It was a failure, but he used the office and his ample free time to begin his work on the Sherlock stories.

The Savoy

Dr Watson is introduced in A Study in Scarlet as having retired from the army and living a "comfortless, meaningless existence" in a London hotel on Strand. Doyle doesn't mention anywhere by name, but the Savoy, opened in 1889, gives us a good idea of what he had in mind.

Picadilly Circus

Desperate for new lodgings, and a little excitement in life, Watson visits the Criterion Restaurant, overlooking Piccadilly Circus, and runs into an old friend who soon introduces him to Sherlock Holmes. Today, you can still visit The Criterion, it's just behind the fountain.

221B Baker Street

Holmes' home. When Doyle first wrote the stories this address didn't exist. In the late 1920s Baker Street was extended and numbers 219–229 came to be occupied by the Abbey National Building Society. For many years, they employed a secretary to answer post addressed to Mr Holmes.

"Great Scott! Isn't this 221B Baker Street!"

It might be a fictional address, but 221B has caused some very real legal arguments. In 1990, the Sherlock Holmes Museum changed the numbers of their address from 229 to 221B. This caused some postal confusion, but since the building society moved in 2005, no-one's complained.

In any case, the Georgian townhouse that the museum occupies does actually resemble Holmes' house as described in the novels. Inside, they've even filled it with props, period furniture, and costumed staff.

…but it doesn't end there!

If you think you recognise this address, that's because its the 221B Baker Street as seen in the BBC's spellbinding series, Sherlock. Attentive observers will note that Speedy's is also a real cafe, so why not head inside and have a cup of tea.

Scotland Yard

4 Whitehall Place was the original site of Scotland Yard, headquarters of the Metropolitan Police and sometime rivals of Sherlock Holmes. The headquarters has since moved but the name has stuck. What 'Wall Street' is to banking, 'Scotland Yard' is to 'The Met'.

The Royal Opera House

The Royal Opera House on Bow Street appears in many of the Holmes stories. This stunning glass atrium was built in 1860 as a flower market. It's now known as the Paul Hamlyn Hall, and houses the Opera's champagne bar and restaurant.

The Sherlock Holmes

Finally, in The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor, Holmes tracks down Francis Hay Moulton, "small, wiry, sunburnt man, clean-shaven, with a sharp face and alert manner", to this hotel, now a pub named in his honor. Time to put your feet up. Consider it a good day's sleuthing.

Study of Platform Nine and Three-Quarters by Jim Kay, for The Philosopher’s StoneThe British Library

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