23 February 2017 | 11 °C

See The Spot Where Sherlock Holmes First Met Dr Watson

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By M@
See The Spot Where Sherlock Holmes First Met Dr Watson

Inside Bart's Hospital Museum, you'll find a plaque marking a meeting that never took place. Not in the real world, anyway.

You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive.

Those were the 'deathless words', spoken by Sherlock Holmes to Dr Watson upon their first encounter on 1 January 1881. That historic introduction, here in the hospital, is recorded in the pages of A Study in Scarlet (1887) by Arthur Conan Doyle, the first story to feature the famous duo.

During the scene, Holmes is using the hospital laboratory for experiments with blood stains when Watson is shown in by a mutual acquaintance called Stamford. Both Holmes and Watson are looking for accommodation. They agree to take rooms in Baker Street and the rest is (fictional) history.

This is the sole occasion in which the hospital is mentioned in the original stories, but Bart's plays a much greater role in the BBC's Sherlock series. It is once again the place where Holmes and Watson first meet, but then reappears in most subsequent instalments.

Most dramatically, the hospital is the scene of Sherlock's seemingly fatal plunge at the finale of the second series, a homage to the Reichenbach Falls of the Conan Doyle stories. A nearby phone box became a shrine to the detective.

The Bart's plaque is not the only one in town marking a key incident from the books. The rather gorgeous Savini restaurant in Piccadilly displays this memento.

The scene recorded takes place shortly before the Holmes-Watson meeting. Newly returned to London, Watson bumps into an old friend (Stamford) in what was then the Criterion restaurant. Watson tells Stamford that he needs to find somewhere to live, and Stamford suggests shacking up with Sherlock, which leads to the introduction at Bart's.

Bart's Hospital Museum is free to visit, Tuesday to Friday, 10am-4pm. With thanks to Peter Berthoud for the tip-off about the second plaque.

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Last Updated 06 January 2017