The Sherlock Holmes pub in Charing Cross might, by some, be dismissed as a tackily named tourist magnet — not the sort of place any self-respecting Londoner would choose to drink. That would be harsh. The pub has a genuinely lovely interior and an ale selection that is anything but elementary. Its true marvel, however, is upstairs.
Accessed via a side-door on Craven Passage, the upper dining room has one very special permanent resident: Mr Sherlock Holmes.
A mannequin of the detective presides over a recreation of his study. That hole in his forehead is deliberate — read the The Adventure of the Empty House if you want to know what it means. The uncanny likeness to Vladimir Putin, though, is pure coincidence.
Holmes's study is absolutely crammed with references to the detective's investigations. Shown above, for example, is the goose and gemstone from The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle.
Another corner contains the great man's chemical collection. The bottles may look dusty, but they're clearly still in use. A little bit of sleuthing reveals that they're all in different positions to a photo we took of the display 10 years ago. We note that the detective has also changed dressing gown.
At Christmas time, the study is further decorated with period Christmas cards, including this merry note from Charles Dickens (who died 17 years before the first Holmes story... but still seems to fit). Note the Harrogate toffee. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who (as any right-thinking person knows) edited the notes left by Dr Watson, was a regular visitor to the Yorkshire town.
Holmes fans will spot many other nods to the casebooks, including a Persian slipper, a red wig, boxing gloves, an assortment of pipes and, of course, the violin.
The display was originally housed in Abbey House on Baker Street. It was created by stage set designer Michael Weight for the 1951 Festival of Britain. This short film from the period gives the background (but spot the glaring factual error).
After the close of the Festival, the Holmesian paraphernalia went on display in New York, to minor sensation. Many of the elements were then reassembled upstairs at the Sherlock Holmes pub, where they remain to this day.
This likeable pub has another strong connection to the detective. In Victorian times, the site was part of the Northumberland Hotel, which features in the early chapters of The Hound of the Baskervilles. It's also just around the corner from the original Scotland Yard — no doubt a favourite drinking den of Inspector Lestrade and his colleagues.
The waxwork sleuth and his study can be freely viewed any time during pub opening hours. The Sherlock Holmes pub, 10 Northumberland Street WC2N 5DB.
See also: our map of every London location in the canonical stories.