The Sherlock Holmes Museum, London

The Sherlock Holmes Museum, London

Our family loves the BBC show Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch.  We’ve watched every episode more than once and always wait eagerly for the next season to come out. (It takes a small eternity about 18 months between the time you watch the last episode of a season and the release of a new season.)  My daughter is without a doubt the biggest Sherlock fan in the house. So when the time came to decide what each of us wanted to see and do on our UK vacation this year, she immediately requested a trip to the Sherlock Holmes Museum in London.

It’s located, of course, on Baker Street. When the Sherlock Holmes stories were published, the address 221 Baker Street did not exist. Years later, the street was later expanded.  The Abbey National Building Society moved in to the premises located at 219-229 Baker Street. They received so much mail addressed to Sherlock Holmes that they employed a full time secretary for the express purpose of answering his mail. The Sherlock Holmes museum, on the other hand, was in a different location on the same block. For 15 years, the museum and the Abbey National Building Society disagreed over who should receive and respond to mail addressed to the famous consulting detective.

The museum is actually between 237 and 241 Baker Street. It’s in an 1815 townhouse similar to the one described in the stories, with two entrances. The larger entrance leads to the gift shop and ticket counter.  The smaller one, marked with a subtle 221B over the door, leads to the museum proper. This door is usually guarded by a uniformed character who checks tickets and tells visitors when they may enter. (The museum rooms are small and would become over-crowded if too many people entered at the same time.)

sherlock holmes museum london detective outside

While you’re waiting, you can also try on a Holmes style deerstalker hat, hold a pipe near your mouth, and have your photo taken with said costumed character.

Once inside, you progress through a series of beautifully appointed rooms with subtle details about the famous detective.

sherlock holmes museum london

pipes at the sherlock holmes museum in london

sherlock holmes museum london

On the upper floor, life size figures re-enact scenes from the Sherlock Holmes stories. Here is Irene Adler and the King of Bohemia from “A Scandal in Bohemia.”

irene adler scandal in bohemia sherlock holmes museum london

I haven’t read any of the original Sherlock Holmes stories.  In fact, I’ve only enjoyed the character in a modern day setting.  I really didn’t enjoy the museum that much. I didn’t connect the character with the period decor and items, nor did I recognize the importance of most of the objects on display. For fans of the literary works, I’m sure it would be fantastic.

The BBC show and, to a lesser extent, the Robert Downey Jr movies, have reignited interest in the Sherlock Holmes character.  Because of that, I expected them to at least receive a nod. There was no acknowledgement of them at all, save for a lot of BBC Sherlock merchandise in the gift shop. If the modern iterations of the character are important enough to make money from, surely they must also be important enough to devote a few square feet to a display about them.

For fans of BBC’s Sherlock, I would recommend skipping this museum. For die hard fans of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s writing, it’s a definite thumbs up.

The address for the Sherlock Holmes Museum is (of course!) 221B Baker St. London NW1 6XE.  Telephone: 01+44+207 224 3688.  Open 9:30 am to 6:00 pm, every day of the year except Christmas.

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