Everyone could use a little mystery to spice up their lives, and in the fictional world of Sherlock Holmes, the famous detective’s life was certainly far from boring, with plenty of murder mysteries and whodunnits. Holmes may have been a fictional character, but this has not stopped the public from raving about his work and accomplishments. In order to commemorate the great detective created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the 221B Baker Street Museum was established in London.



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History

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle conceived the fictional character of Sherlock Holmes during the mid-1880s, but none of the publishing houses wanted to take a chance on a detective book. It wasn't until 1886 that the publishing house of Ward Lock & Co accepted Doyle’s first work, A Study in Scarlet. After his first publication, the books about the life of Sherlock Holmes began to grow in popularity. Doyle often mentioned that the character of Holmes was modeled after his former teacher, Joseph Bell. The book series on Sherlock Holmes continued even after Doyle’s death in 1930, and is still going strong today.

Museum

221B Baker Street was the fictional home address of Sherlock Holmes. During the era in which the Sherlock Holmes books were written, Baker Street was considered a prominent residence for the elite. Even though the books have him living at 221B, in reality the house numbers on Baker Street only went up to 85 during his lifetime. Holmes’ fictional life in the book series included his home at Baker Street, which he shared with his longtime friend, Doctor Watson. The signage on the 221B Baker Street Museum suggests that Holmes was the only “resident” because Doctor Watson is often forgotten due to Holmes’ popularity.

The Sherlock Holmes Museum was established in 1990. The museum has souvenirs, books, antiques, and many other memorable items that link the fictional world of Holmes to reality. Visitors can step into this fantasy world and experience the settings of the Victorian era, with Holmes’ writing desk, books, and chair. Hundreds of mailed letters flow into the 221B Baker Street Museum every year, all addressed to Sherlock Holmes. Although many people know that Holmes is a fictional character, the museum has had hire a secretary to respond to all the incoming mail.

The museum has different rooms and artifacts dedicated to Holmes, such as his laboratory, sitting room, tableware, typewriter, and study, including his famous chair. It is remarkable how the museum transforms the fictional life of Holmes to resemble that of a real-life person. This was indeed the intent of the curator of the museum, and visitors from around the world come here to catch a glimpse of the would-be life of Holmes. Exhibits from the time period in which Holmes would have lived are on display, as are wax figures of Holmes himself. The scenes of the home described in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s books are displayed throughout the museum. The rooms “occupied” by Holmes are filled with clutter, capturing the true essence of Holmes as an investigative detective.

However, if you are a big fan of the Holmes’ creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, then you may be in for a disappointment as the museum does not have any exhibits or artifacts relating to the author. The museum offered Doyle’s family the option of including a room dedicated to him, but his daughter Jean declined.

Controversies

Even though 221B Baker Street is the name of the museum, it is not actually the physical location, as for quite some time the Abbey National Building Society was actually located at 219–229 Baker Street. That particular Abbey National branch closed down in 2005 and, legally, there is no 221B Baker Street located on Baker Street. The numbers were reorganized in the 1930s and no person or building lives at 221B.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s family members were not pleased that a museum had been established to honor the fictional character of Sherlock Holmes. Especially his daughter, Jean Conan Doyle, completely disapproved of the Sherlock Holmes Museum. This has been an ongoing dispute for years, but that has not stopped tourists from visiting.

What's Nearby

The Baker Street Tube Station is located close to the Sherlock Holmes Museum. This was originally a station the world’s first underground railway line, the Metropolitan Railway, and now has access to five different lines.

237-241 Baker St., London, United Kingdom, NW1 6XE

Back to: London

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