Sleuthing: Fact and Fiction

One of the tricks I use when I plan a family vacation is to make sure everyone has a say in that we see and do. When I asked Graham what he wanted to do in London, he had two requests: take the Jack the Ripper Tour and go see things about Sherlock Holmes.

I had little interest in taking a Jack the Ripper walking tour, but Graham did the research and chose the tour that he had read had rave reviews, so I signed us up. It actually was very informative and, while the subject matter certainly is not an easy subject, the tour was not gruesome and the tour guide did nothing to make it more horrific than the simple facts. He was very informative and it was enjoyable. So, if you go, and this kind of thing appeals to you, sign up for the Jack The Ripper Tour by GoldenTours.

The crimes were all committed in an area of East London known as Whitechapel and also in the adjacent area of Spitalfields. The area was and still is one inhabited by immigrant populations and was known, in that time, as one of the most dangerous areas in London. I had the misconception that there were tens of women murdered by Jack the Ripper but it actually was 5 or 6. He never left any clues and amazingly did the crimes in the middle of an area that was very heavily populated. So, it caused a lot of terror and there were people falsely accused, handwritten notes (all with different handwriting) that were sent to the police, and other misdirections.

These photos are of buildings that existed at the time and were sites of murders. One pub was the location where some of the women might have met their killer. The current owner of the pub has done a lot to remove all Jack the Ripper influence from the establishment, following a craze in the 1970s which had people selling gruesome souvenirs.

There have been many fictional characters that have developed fan clubs and the fictional character of Sherlock Holmes is one. Graham in particular feels an affinity because of the recognition that logic plays a large part in crime solving and forensics.
So, in response to a growing number of letters and other correspondence arriving at the bank located at 221 Baker Street, a group of people decided to purchase a 4-story building on the street, received permission from the Postal Service to number it 221B (to the relief of the bank’s mail room) and opened a gift shop on the ground level with the floors above finished as the home and work space of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.
The rooms all have items which the avid fan can recognize is tied in to some story and the upper level also has a number of vignettes with wax figures depicting scenes.

Sherlock Holmes’ popularity extends to at least two pubs. This one, located not far from Scotland Yard, was the place that Sam, Lisa and Beth found in 2005. We took Graham here as the food, typical pub fare, is reasonably prepared and the ambiance, of the “Study” adds to the fun. In the study, besides a manikin of Holmes, you can find items that all have meaning to the avid fan.


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One Response to Sleuthing: Fact and Fiction

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