|I was pleased that our granddaughter wanted to join me in the room!|
I bought my first copy of the Doubleday edition of The Complete Sherlock Holmes with my own money when I was 12 years old. One of the things I loved about the book was the photograph on the back: the sitting room at 221B Baker Street. On Friday, May 27, I was in that room—although at a different location.
The room was constructed at Abbey House on Baker Street as just part of the Sherlock Holmes Exhibition mounted during the Festival of Britain in 1951. Mattias Boström and Nicholas Utechin tell the whole story in the Baker Street Journal’s 2018 Christmas Annual. The Exhibition moved to the United States in 1952, the year I was born.
Since the end of 1957, the sitting room—reduced in size—has been part of London’s Sherlock Holmes Pub in Northumberland Street. And that is where I was afforded the rare opportunity of stepping inside, courtesy of the British Holmesian Roger Johnson. Roger and his wife, Jean Upton, maintain what Roger calls “the study” as a labor of love. The coal scuttle, the chemical corner, the gasogene, the wax bust of Sherlock Holmes—everything that signals 221B was there. And so was I, along with granddaughter Amelia (who is a Potterhead rather than a Sherlockian).
Most pub patrons only get to the see the familiar room in passing. At the end of the Christmas Annual, Mattias argues that photos taken of the reconstruction over the years have played an important role for Sherlockians and for people who are not so fortunate:
“Those pictures have been used in so many books and articles; they have become our shared images of Holmes’s and Watson’s living-room. Through that Room, the two friends on Baker Street stepped out of our imagination and into reality.”
If you visit London, the Sherlock Holmes Pub is a “must” stop. Even the food is good.