As a relatively late convert to the latest BBC adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes stories (I’m now a mad Cumberbatch fan, too), I thought I’d have a look at where some of the most famous “Sherlock” filming locations.
221B Baker Street
The address, which made its first appearance as the famous fictional detective’s residence in the book “A Study in Scarlet”, doesn’t appear in the recent BBC1 series. The actual 221B Baker Street is occupied by the Sherlock Holmes Museum, a small institution with a waxworks room, a drawing room well laid out in Victorian style, and a gift shop.
For the purposes of the new series, a nearby street location serves for exterior shots – 187 North Gower Street in Bloomsbury. The current resident copes very well indeed with the crowds of tourists taking selfies outside his door (all day at the weekend); and was amused to receive a letter addressed to the actors who the Sherlock fan letter-writer believed lived inside. Interiors are shot in film studios in Cardiff.
The café used by Holmes and Watson in the series, Speedy’s Café, is on the ground floor of 187 North Gower Street, and, being seen regularly in Sherlock (interiors and exteriors) it’s benefited enormously from its prime position. At time of writing it has nearly 18,000 Twitter followers!
Its owner, Chris Georgiou says, “Customers ask me what it’s like, what the actors are like. I’ve always said they’re a lovely crew, lovely actors, lovely people.” (From an Independent article.) He’s hoping to have a cameo in the next series.
The high tech home of super-baddy Charles Augustus Magnussen from the last episode of the third series, is in real life Swinhay House near North Nibley in Gloucestershire. Owned by millionaire engineer Sir David McMurtry, it’s a spiral-designed 30,000ft “futuristic mansion” whose swimming pool has a floating floor so that the water level can be adjusted. The engineer doesn’t live in the house, however, because his wife thinks it’s too “flashy”.
The dummy houses featured in finale episode of Series 3 are in fact “real” dummy houses. 23 and 24 Leinster Gardens in Paddington were pulled down to make way for the Metropolitan Railway (the world’s first underground railway) and, instead of leaving a distasteful gap where locomotives used to vent off their smoke and steam, a frontage was built that matched that of its neighbours.
St Bart’s Hospital
Sherlock meets Watson both in the original stories and in the BBC series in a lab in St Bart’s, and it’s the connection with Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation that led to the Tokyo “Sherlock Holmes Appreciation Society” to donate a grand sum of £650 to the “Save Barts” campaign in the 1990s. There’s also a plaque in Bart’s Pathology Museum in commemoration of the meeting of two of the most famous characters in literary history on their premises.
The Sherlock fan site Sherlockology details a visit to the building in an attempt to scour the area for clues after Sherlock’s “fatal” fall. The roof of St Bart’s and extensive exterior shots appeared in the exciting climax of Series 2, but the spoilsports won’t let you visit the roof to act out your Sherlock/Moriarty fantasies.
The phone box that you see in the image above was filled with hand-written notes commemorating the so-called “death” of Sherlock at the end of Series 2:
Tapas Brindisa Soho
The window seat in the Tapas Brindisa (then known as Tierra Brindisa) in “Northumberland Street” (actually 46 Broadwick Street) was occupied by Messrs Cumberbatch and Freeman in Series 1. Unfortunately it’s been refurbished since the episode was shot, so you won’t quite be able to recreate the famous scene exactly:
London’s Chinatown isn’t quite what it seems in the Series 1 episode, The Blind Banker. Yes, Sherlock and Watson are seen walking down Gerrard Street, the iconic Chinatown street in London’s West End, but exteriors and interiors for The Lucky Cat shop were shot at 183 Upper Dock Street, Newport, Wales.
You’ll not find a shop selling Chinese wares there, however – the place was transformed purely for the filming (at the moment it’s a beauty salon called Glamour & Glitz). Upper Dock Street itself was transformed with the addition of Chinese lanterns and painted street bollards. This isn’t the only Newport/London fakery that’s taken place in Sherlock. One of the scenes in a supposed London kebab shop in Episode 1, Series 3 was filmed in Adonis Kebabs, for instance:
The atmospheric swimming pool that sees the showdown with Moriarty in the last episode of Series 1 was filmed in Bristol South Swimming Pool, where Mark Gatiss learned to swim, according to Sherlockology. It’s a fantastically well preserved Victorian pool complete with poolside changing rooms, in a Grade II listed building in Dame Emily Park in the city.
Irene Adler’s House
44 Eaton Square in well-to-do Belgravia serves for exterior shots of “The Woman’s” house. The interiors were, again, shot in Newport: in a private residence known as Fields House that’s also been seen in episode “Blink” of Dr Who.
Let’s hope it won’t be another two years until we can add some new locations for Series 4 and the return of Moriarty!