Julie Barrett is a freelance writer and photographer based in Plano, TX.

Down the (Killer) Rabbit Research Hole: In the Steps of Sherlock Holmes

Fresh when it gets here from Julie Barrett
Tuesday, September 12, 2023

You know how it goes when you look up one thing and it takes you off on an entirely different tangent. This week's tangent has been looking at part of the considerable London stomping grounds of Sherlock Holmes. I'm starting at the pub, which is where one should start (or end) an adventure.


This is a vacation snap of the Sherlock Holmes pub, ca. 1990.

This was likely the location of the Northumberland Hotel, mentioned in The Hound of the Baskervilles, though it seems a bit downmarket for someone of his means. There were three larger hotels around the corner - The Metropole, The Victoria, and The Grand - which had ben built in 1887 and were, in my mind, more likely candidates.

The Turkish bath Holmes and Watson visited is nearby, and apparently the ladies' entrance is still visible down the passage to the right of the pub.

The pub, of course, is home to an exhibition of Holmes memorabilia including a re-creation of the sitting room at 221-B.

This is Northumberland Street. Behind me is Northumberland Avenue, which is also of interest as not only were the three grand hotels situated there, but just beyond is Scotland Yard. Beyond that is Whitehall. To the left a block or so (from the pub) is Trafalgar Square and Nelson's Column.

Not only would this be a very cool area to explore (obviously, I've been once), but there are lots of Holmes locations.

Another nearby building that I can't seem to locate is the space occupied by Edison House. It was apparently called Northumberland House at one time before Edison opened his London offices there. It's possible the existing Northumberland House may be it. Next door to the Hotel Victoria (now the Grand at Trafalgar Square), the hotel took it in and renovated it as the Edward VII Rooms. Anyway, this spot is interesting to me because it was also a recording studio for Edison cylinders. This would definitely have been in Holmes' orbit. Would have he been interested enough to pay a visit? To record himself on the violin? I suspect that Watson might have been interested. He was somewhat of an avatar for Doyle, who was interested in gadgets and technology.

From what I could find, Edison set up in Northumberland Avenue as early as 1889, which would have been before the end of the Great Hiatus. Apparently one Stephen Moriarty was involved in setting up the Edison Bell Consolidated Phonograph Company, which moved to Charing Cross Road around 1900 or so. Moriarty was apparently Managing Director of Edison Bell. He and Edison apparently didn't get along. (Moriarty died in 1907.)

The Killer Rabbit hole has turned into a Killer Plot Bunny. Be afraid.

Filed under: Sherlock Holmes   Writing         

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