|Did Holmes retire here? The blue plaque on the building says he did.|
My villa is situated on the southern slope of the downs, commanding a great view of the Channel.
– “The Adventure of the Lion’s Mane”
I think it was through Better Holmes & Gardens that I first saw a photo of the house on the Sussex Downs claiming to be Sherlock Holmes's retirement villa. It was in a village called East Dean. We decided to visit there on our last day in England a couple of month ago.
When we first arrived in East Dean, West Sussex, we asked at a pub called the Star and Garter about the Sherlock Holmes house. The staff had no idea what we were talking about. But a curious barman looked it up on the internet and found out that we needed the other East Dean, the one in East Sussex.
Once in the right East Dean, we had no trouble finding the two-story flintstone and brick house. It had a wooden beehive in the back. A blue plaque on the front proclaims:
& Bee Keeper
It's an estate office. An employee inside told us the plaque has been there about four years. She gave us a printout of online references and told us that Arthur Conan Doyle often stayed at a hotel nearby. The Channel is not far away, as described in "The Adventure of the Lion's Mane."
The house is about 80 yards away from The Tiger Inn, a 16th century public house with whitewashed walls and a red tile roof. We stopped in to chat. One of the patrons confessed, "Until I moved here, I thought Sherlock Holmes was a fictional character." Isn't it surprising how many people think that?