A Review of the Sherlock Holmes Museum, London
Unless you are a truly devoted fan of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories and you don’t mind waiting in a long line, I would skip the Sherlock Holmes Museum. Seeing as how Holmes and Watson are literary characters, it is more accurate to call it a historic house with a twist than a museum. When I visited in 2014, I also thought the admission fee was too high for what you get. Once you are inside, it only takes maybe 30 minutes to walk through. There are plenty of historic homes that are even nicer, so if what you want is to see steam-era décor, you can get it from other sources. The Victoria and Albert Museum for instance, has AMAZING furniture and other home wares.
That being said, for people who are well versed in Holmesian lore, there are some replica objects like a bust of Napolean from The Adventure of the Six Napoleons. You can also see some weapons used in the fictional murder cases scattered throughout the house, but the printing on the labels is really small and difficult to read. The top floor is also inhabited by wax figures of some of the most notable characters from the stories, such as Irene Adler and the King of Bohemia from A Scandal in Bohemia. I thought this was a nice touch, especially because Holmes himself was saved from an assassination attempt in one of Doyle’s tales. The waxwork replica sitting by the window was mistaken for the great detective and took the bullet.
Tips for Visiting the Museum:
- The earlier you get there the better. They only let in a small number of people at a time so it doesn’t take long for the line to get backed up.
- You have to buy your ticket in the gift shop next to the museum, so don’t bother getting into the line until you have braved the chaos of the store. If you aren’t going alone, it is a good idea to have someone get into the museum line to save a spot and send one person into the store to buy the tickets.
- Once you get inside the rooms are pretty small, so my strategy was to hang back until the crowd moved onto the next section before I tried to get any photos or get close to the objects.
- If you have any mobility issues, be warned that there is no elevator. The only way in or out is to use the same narrow staircase so passing people on the stairs gets pretty close for comfort.
- The gift shop is pretty nice, but it has some stuff that doesn’t belong. There were multiple books about Jack the Ripper, for instance. If you are a fan of the contemporary BBC adaptation Sherlock, you can find merchandise there, but it felt out of place to me in the attempt at a historical setting. And don’t forget to look up when you are in the room with the checkout counter, the glass ceiling is beautiful and is consistent with the Victorian era building that houses the museum.