Sherlock Holmes Museum

Open every day, 9.30 to 6. £15 for adults, £10 for under 16s.

 One for the scrapbook...

One for the scrapbook...

It wouldn’t take literature’s greatest detective long to get to the bottom of this one. ‘A tourist trap, my dear Watson’ he might have said. ‘They can charge what they like’.

As in Conan Doyle’s stories about him, he would be right. People are swarming around you from the moment you enter the shop to buy the £15 ticket, and there’s a claustrophobic feel to the three floors of the museum as you wander round the small rooms with a dozen other people.

That’s not to say it’s an entirely negative experience. The staff are wonderful, dressed up and enthusiastic, smiles galore. The policeman on the door does a particularly excellent job, managing the queue while posing for a constant stream of photographs, offering a variety of hats (including the famous deerstalker for his momentary companions).

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 A spooky wax Moriarty

A spooky wax Moriarty

The museum itself is a bit like the BBC’s Sherlock series. It starts off carefully and thoughtfully, loses its way a bit before hitting the visitor/viewer with a bit of a sudden shock at the end. The first floor is a charming recreation of the fireplace where Holmes would tease and insult Watson, with violin and chemistry set close to hand. There are guides there to explain that everything in the room is Victorian, the time when Holmes would have been around, which is an impressive touch. The second floor has a variety of trinkets and bits and pieces that played important roles in some of the mysteries, such as a Napoleon bust (The Six Napoleons), a revolver in a Bible (The Solitary Cyclist), and a variety of knives (almost all of them), none of them particularly interesting. Then you walk up to the third floor and BAM! there are lifesize models from various stories hulking in the corners. It really takes things up a notch, and the effect is quite terrifying if you’re the first from your group in there. Moriarty and his dead eyes is the real highlight.  

If you’re a huge Sherlock Holmes fan, you’ll enjoy being here. But there’s no chance for the sort of quiet reflection that Dr Johnson’s or Charles Dickens’ house offers, and given how busy it is it feels slightly claustrophobic. The £15 entry fee for adults does feel on the expensive side, but then it’s no mystery that being a tourist in London is rarely cheap.