There is no 221b Baker Street just as there was no Sherlock Holmes. But, as everyone knows, truth has no place in the modern world. Despite being located at 237-241 Baker Street (on a stretch of Baker Street that did not exist in Sherlock Holmes’s time, not that he had a time being a work of fiction but if he had …) the Sherlock Holmes Museum receives the post for 221b.
The actual number 221b was covered for a time by the Abbey National at 219-229. They even paid for a statue outside Baker Street. Rather like the policeman that stands outside the museum the statue seems to exist solely for tourists to stand in front of and have their picture taken. Abbey National is of course a real building society that no longer exists. It became a bank. Then it became a bank called Abbey. Then it became part of Santander. Santander regularly features as one of the UK’s worst banks for customer service. Sherlock, if he ever existed, would not approve.
When Granada made the definitive Sherlock Holmes in the 1980s their 221b Baker Street was on a studio in Manchester. When the BBC made the definitive Sherlock in the 2010s their 221b Baker Street was in North Gower Street. The BBC’s version is therefore 195 miles closer to the original (which never existed) than ITV’s.
It costs £6, or the price of a half pint of lager in a tourist pub, to get in to the Sherlock Holmes Museum or you can see it for free on YouTube. The Sherlock Holmes Museum prides itself on faithfully maintaining the famous study of the famous Sherlock Holmes. It is sometimes hard to remember that Sherlock Holmes never existed, 221b Baker Street never existed and therefore neither did any study, famous or otherwise.
My photo was taken in May 2012. It shows a usual amount of tourists posing for each other outside the museum’s narrow entrance. There is also Mrs Hudson’s Tearooms. Not even Conan-Doyle conjured up a career selling afternoon teas for Mrs Hudson. There’s a very good chance that the author of the original fiction with which these very real landmarks claim to connect would be very confused if he ever drifted back from the spirit world in which he ended his life believing to see what’s going in twenty-first century London.