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Published August 29th 2012
A place where fiction becomes real
There is a vast quantity of classic books based in the city of London and walking the same streets and visiting the same places our beloved characters did is absolutely magical. The more specific the description of the place is, the more intense the experience is, and it was the most prominent detective of literature history the one who made a specific address in London the most famous one in the world: 221b Baker Street ... sounds familiar?
221b Baker Street, the most famous address in the world
According to the stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor John H. Watson lived in a Victorian lodging house at 221b Baker Street between 1881 and 1904. Today, the house located in that address is open for visit as the official home of that detective who wears a deerstalker and smokes a pipe. The Museum building was built in 1815 and is protected by the government given its "special architectural and historical interest" and it was registered as a lodging house from 1860 to 1934, hence it represents an authentic lodging house of that period.
In the stories, apartment 221b was on the first floor of a lodging house. Today in the real world, the 1st floor study overlooking Baker Street is still authentically maintained as it was kept in Victorian Times.
The Sherlock Holmes Museum is devoted to the life and times of Sherlock Holmes. They did a good job portraying the interior the way it was described in the books. For those who have read the stories, the tour will feel like they are stepping into the memories of their own imagination. It gives the sensation Sherlock Holmes will come out of nowhere saying "You know my methods, Watson". And for those who are not so sure about who is Sherlock Holmes might wonder if he was actually a real person and lived in that house given the high attention paid to details and its faithful depiction of a Victorian house.
The interior is faithful to the way it was described in the books
At the door, there is a "guard" who is willing to offer deerstalkers, pipes and his own image for the visitors' pictures. At the entrance to the museum, the first indication of a lodging house is a stand with many compartments for mail that Mrs. Hudson received for her lodgers. Like in the stories, there are 17 steps from the ground floor hallway to the first floor study which Holmes and Watson shared.
Once you step into the studio, the experience becomes more amazing. Familiar objects, paraphernalia and letters are displayed in the room, while paintings, literature and newspapers of the period make believable the journey to the world of Sherlock Holmes. Mannequins recreate legendary scenes from the stories –one more element to highlight the realism of the museum. Just to think, if Sherlock Holmes had been real, he would have lived right there. Also, to recreate the Victorian Times, real women dressed in costumes from that era are positioned in the different floors to guide the visitors.
Familiar objects and paraphernalia mentioned in the stories
You can tell it was the Victorian Times because there are chimneys all over the place. No central heater anywhere. And so many different objects from the stories all around, it makes you wonder if people then did not stumble into things all the time. Don't let the look of the building from the outside deceive you… it is a long tour considering the dimensions of the place! The way up the stairs keeps going up forever tricking our mind to believe we just entered a parallel universe where our capability to use numbers is nil as we still cannot figure out how steps we walked up.
The Museum building represents an authentic lodging house of the period and faithfully depicts the Victorian Times
The Sherlock Holmes Museum is suitable for visitors of all shapes and sizes: newbies who have heard about Sherlock Holmes and seen the movies; for connoisseurs who have read most of the stories and seen the films on TV; and for the experts on Sherlockiana who have read and perhaps re-read all sixty of the original stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and those written by others.
At the end of the tour, you can treat yourself to a gift from the souvenir shop that has all the movies and TV shoes ever made of Sherlock Holmes, the books from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, one chessboard with the characters from the stories as the players, and of course deerstalkers and pipes. Outside the store, there is a police notice from the time warning women of a series of murders in the area.
There is a chessboard with the characters from the stories in the gift shop