Sherlock Through The Ages - Regent Street

Posted by Steve Emecz on

Extract from: Close To Holmes -A Look at the Connections Between Historical London, Sherlock Holmes and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

"Regent Street is one of London’s premier retail streets. It was named after the then Prince Regent (later King George IV) and was designed by John Nash (1752 – 1835). It begins just south of Langham Place, the site of the Langham Hotel and All Souls Church (also designed by Nash). It crosses over Oxford Street and continues south towards Piccadilly where it crosses over Piccadilly Circus finally terminating when it connects to Pall Mall.

As the fan of Sherlock Holmes will know it is down this street that Holmes and Watson follow a cab as it tails Sir Henry Baskerville and Dr Mortimer on their way back to the Northumberland Hotel after their visit to Holmes in Baker Street.  This scene was one of many illustrated by Sidney Paget and it has its own interesting story. According to Baker Street By-Ways by James Edward Holroyd, the illustration has always been printed the wrong way round in English editions of the story.

Holmes and Watson are spotted as they follow the cab carrying Stapleton down Regent Street in The Hound of the Baskervilles – The illustration is shown here the correct way round.

There are a number of indications that this is indeed the case. If you look at the illustration as printed in any English edition it is plain to see that Watson’s morning-coat is buttoned right over left when it should be the opposite. Holroyd’s suggested explanation for this is that the image was destined to appear on an even numbered page when printed and the convention was to have characters facing inwards towards the spine. Regardless of which way round the picture is shown it is rather curious to note that Holmes and Watson are ahead of the cab they are supposed to be tailing. No doubt this was done to ensure their prominence in the illustration.

However this is not the only connection that Regent Street and some of the neighbouring streets have with the Great Detective. Conduit Street connects with Regent Street just south of Oxford Circus. It is an unremarkable road but its claim to fame from a Sherlockian perspective is that it was home to the man described by Holmes as the second most dangerous man in London – Colonel Sebastian Moran[1].

Slightly further down Regent Street we find the site of the former Café Royal. This restaurant, sadly shut down in December 2008 after one hundred and fifty years, was the favourite establishment of the literary set in the late nineteenth century with Oscar Wilde as one of its most famous patrons[2].

For the Sherlockian the connection lies in the adventure The Illustrious Client where it is outside the Café that Holmes is assaulted by thugs in the pay of Baron Gruner. After carrying out their task they escape through the café into Glasshouse Street which lies behind."

[1] Source: The Empty House

[2] According to the BBC the Café Royal was the site of the only cordial meeting between Oscar Wilde and the Marquess of Queensbury before the latter accused Wilde of being a homosexual. It was Wilde’s decision to launch a libel prosecution that ultimately led to his own trial and conviction.


Close to Holmes by Alistair Duncan is available from:

Amazon USA

Amazon UK      Book Depository (free worldwide shipping)

Other formats -  Kindle   Kobo

The London of the late nineteenth century was home to both Arthur Conan Doyle and his famous detective - Sherlock Holmes. Close To Holmes looks at some of the many locations in both central and outer London that have connections to one or both of these famous names. In addition to examining the history this book also looks at some of the theories that have been woven over the years around Holmes and these locations. Very popular with both fans of Holmes and Victorian London and includes stunning comparison photographs from the late 1880s and modern day for many London landmarks.

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