Sherlock Holmes Museum review (Nov 2013)
This is an old review Read my most recent review here
Mysteriously, I decided to go to the Sherlock Holmes Museum today. Actually it wasn't mysterious at all. The only mysterious thing is why the place is so chocablock with tourists every hour of the day. Every time I walk past there are about three million people standing outside having their photo taken with the old Victorian copper. I think the rest of the world really does want to believe that English people wear bowler hats and drink cups of tea, whilst reading Shakespeare and Sherlock Holmes. When you go to America what is the first thing you do? -- you have a hamburger. And when you go to France what is the first thing you do? -- you buy a string of onions. And it's the same here too... as soon as they step off the plane they want a bit of Sherlock Holmes and a cup of tea please.
Here is something that I've always wondered about Sherlock Holmes... why did Sir Arthur Conan Doyle decide to put him up at 221 Baker Street? Have you ever been to Baker Street? It's not exactly the prettiest street in London. These days it's just a busy main road filled with shops and offices. A concrete street of concrete buildings, with buses and lorries thundering round from Regent's Park. And stuck at the top end is this little piece of Victoriana, looking like something that belongs in Bloomsbury. It's not even the right house -- did you know that? The real 221b Baker Street is a few doors down.
Okay, so my interest is peaked now... I'm going to do a bit of detective work (on Wikipedia) and see why he chose that house. Imagine if Sherlock Holmes had Wikipedia in the 1890s -- he would have saved himself a lot of hassle. Right... apparently 221 Baker Street didn't exist in Conan Doyle's day, the street wasn't that long. It wasn't until the 1930s that 221 Baker Street was actually built. Abbey National moved in and everyone started posting fan letters to the bank. The Sherlock Holmes Museum had to make do with a shop a few doors down, but when the bank moved out in 2005 they bagged themselves sole use of the address. So that's what happened... mystery solved. This detective lark is easy!
The first room is basically just a big shop selling all kinds of tourist tat. Books, DVDs, tea-cups, pens and pencils, pipes... you name it, they've got it. It's all decorated like it would be in Sherlock's day (if he had a shop), and the staff are dressed up like they've just stepped out of the pages of a Sherlock Holmes novel. It certainly does look the part.
All of the rooms are fit to bursting with objects related to his books. I didn't recognise many of them myself, but people around me were cooing and aaahing every time they spotted one. I suppose that is one of the best things about the house if you're a fan... you can hunt around the rooms looking for the 'clues'. The desks and tables are stuffed with papers and pens and you can have a sit-down in his fireside armchair, and try on his deerstalker hat. People were having a puff on his pipe too (no tobacco in it though -- health and safety!).
I'm pretty sure that half the people walking around the house believed him to be real, judging by the way they were talking. Tourists were pointing out the places he sat (no he didn't), the things he wrote (no he didn't) and the objects he owned (he's fictitious!). I suppose that is testimony to how well the thing is done. He was as real to them as Father Christmas is to me. The stuff inside certainly does look old enough to be Victorian, but of course it's all fake. It's a bit like church isn't it. People going along to God's House every Sunday, where he's never been and he doesn't live. But they still think he's looking on.
At the top of the house is a load of Madame Tussauds waxworks, showing characters from his novels. They've got a spooky looking Moriarty, a man with a twisted lip, a dying Grimesby Roylott spreadeagled on the floor, and Holmes and Dr Watson too, amongst others.
Guest – Never knew this place exist, but this is definitely one of the first choices to visit when I go to Rome, I just love Sherlock Holmes.
Admin – You might have a bit of trouble finding it in Rome... it's in London
I’ve been here before…
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