The family which set up the famous museum to the great detective at 221b Baker Street London have recently been to the High Court in dispute over just who is entitled to the museum admission fees.
As these add up to a not unsubstantial few quid short of £2 million, it is understandable, if not elementary. The case is due to be heard in May.
If this plus the beautiful spring weather has re-ignited your Sherlockian investigatory instincts here are few recommendations of other places well known to the great man himself.
As we all know Sherlock Holmes retired to East Dean in Sussex, conveniently situated near to a very good pub, the Tiger Inn. The pub caters for walkers on the Beachy Head coastal path and has the required large portions for healthy sea-air inspired appetites.
In ‘The Valley of Fear‘ Holmes investigates a murder at Birlstone Manor in Sussex involving his enemy Professor Moriarty. The manor is based on Groombridge Place, which Conan Doyle often visited to take part in seances with the owners Louisa and Eliza Saint.
In his non-fiction book ‘At the Edge of the Unknown’ Conan Doyle talks about the ghost of an ostler he saw at Groombridge.
Groombridge Manor, is just outside of Royal Tunbridge Wells, the river Grom providing the original county boundary line between Kent & Sussex. Conan Doyle declared himself not particularly keen on Kent having become the recipient of one of the county’s first speeding offences (original on view at Maidstone Records Office). Groombridge Place is now open to the public and well worth a visit to view the gardens alone.
If you feel you cannot stray out of London, then head for the latest Sherlock Holmes ‘shrine’ in Smithfield at St Bart’s hospital. This is where Holmes originally met Dr Watson, in the Pathology Labs, and it is where according to the BBC’s latest Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch, that he fell to his apparent death from the roof of the hospital. Check out the red phone box for messages (not the usual type found in phone boxes) – tributes to Sherlock Holmes. The BBC’s final scene (with some apparent apologies to Batman) gives nothing away and the plot thickens, all to be revealed in the next series, the production of which is starting now in March 2013.
If the new series picks up where the old left off, then avid Sherlock fans need to be spending some serious time in Smithfield as this is surely where filming must commence.
Blue Badge tourist guide
Posted in Kent, London, Sussex
Tagged 221b Baker St, Beachy Head, Benedict Cumberbatch, East Dean, Groombridge Place, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Sherlock Holmes, Smithfield, St Bart's
If you love art, need a few more Christmas pressies and you admit to your guilty secret of wanting to know how other folk live their lives, then next weekend 15th-16th December is when you need to be in Brighton, Sussex
It is the last in a series of the city’s Artists’ Open Houses weekends when local artists open up their houses to public scrutiny. All types of art and artists are represented which makes for a really fascinating time and a wonderful excuse to see how others decorate their homes!
Entry to the Open Houses is free and many houses are offering offer homemade tea and cake. What’s not to like?
Click on the picture above to open a link to the Open House brochure and get Brighton in your diary.
Blue Badge tourist guide
It’s easy to see why a great detective such as Sherlock Holmes would want to retire here. Iconic coastline, fantastic walks & a pub full of character, good beer & great food to finish up in.
The last Sherlock series with its cliff hanger ending (yes, that is a clue as to this Blue Plaque’s location) of Holmes surviving a roof-top plunge & then a distraught Watson at his graveside has been sold to 180 countries.
It can be revealed the secrets of his survival have already been filmed, as TV producers were worried the location might change its appearance before the next series starts shooting in full.
If you want to find out more about this and anything you ever wanted to know about Sherlock Holmes then visit the Sherlockology website run by Jules Coomber, David Mather, Emma Grigg and Leif Harstad, all from Kent . Sherlockology is a website dedicated to the series & has been awarded a Shorty Award – the internet’s equivalent to the Oscars – at a presentation in Times Square, New York City.
Here’s another clue to that retirement haven – Sane Date – anagram - elementary really!
Blue Badge tourist guide
Posted in Kent, Sussex
Tagged Blue Badge tourist guide, Blue Plaque, Doctor Watson, East Dean, Kent, New York City cliff-hanger, Sherlock, Sherlock Holmes, Sherlockology website, Shorty Award, the internet’s equivalent to the Oscars, Times Square
Yes, really! Some less than generous souls might call this name dropping but I prefer the term linking……
Saint Hill Manor, a late Georgian Sussex sandstone mansion, has had some very interesting owners through its history. The 30-roomed home was built for Gibbs Crawford as a place of “domestic comfort & luxury” and it retains that feel today. It has been beautifully restored and is well worth a visit.
Built in 1792, it was later home to Dr Edgar March Crookshank an assistant of Joseph Lister & governor of the Royal Veterinary College. During WW2 the house was given over to RAF members of the world famous Guinea Pig Club – patients of Sir Archibald McIndoe, who pioneered facial reconstructive surgery.
After the war the house was purchased by the then American ambassador and a full scale renovation was commanded by his wife. Her most intriguing legacy is found in the manor ballroom and comprises of a floor to ceiling four-wall mural of monkeys – different kinds of monkeys enjoying all the fun of a fair – it’s a true delight, I defy anyone to keep a straight face on entering the room! There are 145 monkeys and 20 different species painted by John Spencer Churchill, nephew of Sir Winston. Many of the monkeys represent people known to the artist, “Much as I tried to prevent it happening, the monkeys resemble human beings”. There is even a capuchin monkey artist sporting a panama and cigar – surely a reference to the great man.
The next owner maintained the house as it was, but added to it inspirations of his own, resulting in a marvellous combination of Georgian English oak panelling with eastern marble columns and references to the Koran; for the next owner was none other than the Maharaja of Jaipur. And talking of religion, that brings me to the house’s final owner, Ron Hubbard father of the Scientology religion followed by Tom Cruise amongst many more.
Now where is this glorious pile? East Grinstead in West Sussex, which reminds me of another country house in East Grinstead, previously blogged with some interesting links to the White House . Can I do it…………………? Yes! What links Saint Hill Manor with President Obama well, the White House, anyway? You didn’t get it straight way? It’s just possible, not fully documented but probable, that they shared the same architect, notably Benjamin Henry Latrobe.
Now, how’s that for name dropping?
Its official, Britain’s Bed & Breakfasts are now amongst the top rated B’n'Bs in the world. British Bed and Breakfasts have been voted the best in the world by TripAdvisor & very reassuring this is for the huge number of tourists flocking to the UK.
In a global list of the top places to stay in the world compiled by Trip Advisor, eight out of the top ten best places are British.
The Number One slot is given to The Twenty One in Brighton, Sussex. Check out the TripAdvisor website to see latest comments posted on The Twenty One. Here is just one I picked up, “The Twenty One is without a doubt the nicest B&B we have stayed in. From the beautifully decorated rooms with the BEST tea and coffee tray I have seen! to the largest selection of breakfast items ever!”
Rather endearingly, they state on their website “We have been rated as no.1 B&B in the whole of East Sussex!!”
No, no, the world! This must be an example of the art of the great British understatement at its glorious best!
Sitting high up on West Hill yesterday, overlooking the picturesque roofline of Hastings Old Town and watching the waves crashing on the Stade far below my colleague and I were thankful that, although windy, it was a gloriously sunny afternoon for the walking tour we were about to embark on with a coach load of school children. School children are still a hardy breed, embarking on educational trips to the seaside long after most tourists have retreated from the coast for another year.
Our rendezvous time of 2.30 came and went and we received a message that the group had been delayed en route. We waited. The staff who had opened the Castle waited. The sun’s rays lengthened… and lengthened. According to my colleague’s phone app sunset was at 3.55. We started to discuss plan B – Hastings by night.
Finally at 3.20 a crowd of windswept teenagers appeared on the crest of the hill, their driver having helpfully dropped them right down at the bottom. We swept them into the Hastings Castle visitor centre to watch the 1066 Battle of Hastings video. By the time we emerged we were within 10 minutes of ‘sunset’ , but what a spectacular sunset, which was photographed with great excitement through the ruined arches of the castle.
Then it was off on our great dusk adventure with tales of coast altering storms, invasions across the Channel, shipwrecks, smugglers, haunted Hastings and World War 2 blackouts all acquiring an added atmospheric dimension in the fading light.
We nipped down steps through tiny squares of cottages, gathered under street lights and scurried up dark Twittens in the gathering gloom, peering out to sea from the Look Out, able to imagine the whole scene in past centuries far more vividly than would have been possible in sunshine. Another benefit was that the fear of getting lost meant no one dawdled too far behind.
Then on down to the Stade with its extraordinary Net Shops and sawn-in-two fishing boats. Being teenagers a little darkness was certainly not going to deter them from going right down onto the windswept beach to see Europe’s largest beach based fishing fleet and all the equipment used daily to launch and recover the boats which are such a unique part of Hastings life. So off we went, brave teachers valiently bringing up the rear as the group squealed their way across the deep shingle before we retreated to the comparative shelter of the Life Boat Station.
Despite our earlier concerns the children seemed to have enjoyed their different experience of Hastings and, once their teachers had managed to extract them from the final, and possibly greatest, highlight of the amusement arcade conveniently located next to the Conveniences, they all departed in noisy high spirits. We headed for the nearest historic pub.
King Henry VIII has many fascinating connections with places in the South East of England and this week is the anniversary of the 1982 raising of the wreck of his ship The Mary Rose,which sank in 1545 and lay on the seabed for more than 437 years.
The ship had originally been discovered by writer and diving enthusiast Alexander McKeeb in 1971 and is now preserved in Portsmouth.
Throughout his reign, Henry VIII had a special relationship with Kent.
The Garden of England, on his London doorstep, was an escape and playground, a gateway for royal travels to the Continent, and a first line of defence against invasion.
As a prince, Henry was Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports (always pronounced ‘sink’) of Sandwich, Deal, Hythe, Romney and Hastings which were later joined by the two ‘antient’ ports of Rye and Winchelsea. As Lord Warden he oversaw these coastal ports which were charged with providing the King with ships and men in return for special privileges.
The concept of the Cinque Ports was a forerunner of the Royal Navy and as King, Henry, later celebrated as the ‘Father of the English Navy’, built up a major fleet that laid the foundations of England’s subsequent naval dominance. In all he constructed 46 warships and 13 galleys, bought 26 vessels and captured 13 more.
In 1547, Henry rented a storehouse to service his fleet at anchor on the
River Medway. The dockyard that grew up at Chatham built and repaired many of the vessels that helped seal victory against the Spanish Armada in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.
400 years of maritime history is now preserved at Chatham’s Historic Royal Dockyard which is well worth a visit.
Posted in Events, Kent, Royal Family, Sussex
Tagged Chatham Historic Dockyard, Kent Coast, King Henry VIII, Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, River Medway, Spanish Armada, The Cinque Ports, The Mary Rose, The Royal Navy
Police raids in Yorkshire have recovered more than £1 million worth of Sevres and Meissen porcelain stolen from Firle Place in West Sussex in 2009. Lord Gage told The Times that he was ‘absolutely thrilled’ to be reunited with the missing articles. Firle Place is closed this year for restoration but will celebrate its reopening in 2012 with the reinstated treasures in pride of place.
The Gage family who still live in Firle Place and run the estate, are descended from a Norman Baron who arrived with William the Conqueror in 1066. The family came to prominence under Sir John Gage (1479-1556), who was variously Governor of Calais, Vice-Chamberlain to King Henry VIII, Knight of the Garter and Constable of the Tower of London, where he was charged with the imprisonment of the future Queen Elizabeth I. He built a Tudor House at Firle in 1473.
In the 18th Century one of his descendants Sir Thomas Gage entered military service and served alongside George Washington. He served as commander in chief of the British forces in North America where his actions played a role in igniting the American Revolutionary War. Sir Thomas led British forces into a famous defeat at the 1775 Battle of Bunker Hill.
Another Sir Thomas Gage (1781-1820) was a horticulturalist who introduced the greengage plum to the British Isles. His brother, John, was a Roman Catholic priest who lived near Paris. He purchased “Reine Claude” trees from the monks at Chartreuse. Sending them to England, their labels were lost; the fruit was subsequently named greengage after Thomas.
Some other Firle Facts:
Sir William Gage challenged the Duke of Richmond to one of the earliest recorded cricket matches at the Dripping Pan in Lewes in 1730. Firle Cricket Club, one of the oldest in the country was founded in 1758.
The writer Virginia Wolfe visited nearby Lewes in December 1910 and decided to relocate in Firle, where she rented a house and renamed it Little Talland House. Pointz Hall, a fictional manor from her novel Between the Acts, is believed to be inspired by Firle Place. Her sister, painter and interior designer Vanessa Bell moved to Firle in 1916 taking residence with her lover Duncan Grant in Charleston Farmhouse, which subsequently became a regular haunt of the Bloomsbury Group. Vanessa Bell, her son Quentin Bell, and Duncan Grant are all buried in the churchyard of St Peter’s, Firle.
South of the village lie the South Downs and Firle Beacon, which reaches a height of 217 m. The beacon was once a lighting beacon used as part of a warning system during the Spanish Armada’s threatened invasion of Queen Elizabeth I’s Protestant England in 1588.
Posted in Events, International Links, Sussex
Tagged 1066, American Revolution, Bloomsbury Group, Charleston Farmhouse, Early cricket match, Elizabeth I, Firle Beacon, Firle Place, George Washington, Greengage, henry VIII, John Piper, Lewes, Norman Conquest, Spanish Armada, Stolen treasure recovered, Tankersley Police Raid, Vanessa Bell, Virginia Wolfe, Viscount Gage
As part of the annual month long Brighton Food Festival why not join the Bubbly Fest to sample a host of award-winning wines from Sussex including Ridgeview (the wine of choice at The Queen’s state dinner for President Obama), Black Boys, Bolney Estate, Breaky Bottom, and Balfour Rosé alonside fine sparkling wines from the Champagne region including Moet, Laurent Perrier, Veuve Clicquot, Ruinart, Lanson, Boutinot.
You can talk with the experts, including local growers, and take part in tutored tastings with the experts. A ticket includes Tasting Notes, admission to at least one of the tutored tastings, available to book on the day and 3 tasting tickets plus an exclusive price of just £6 per glass for any of the house sparkling wines & Champagnes on display
Sunday 25 September, 12pm – 6pm
Tickets: £20 To book tickets for the festival visit: www.eventelephant.com/champagnefestival
Hotel du Vin, 2-6 Ship Street, Brighton
Posted in Sussex
Tagged Balfour Rosé, Black Boys, Brighton, champagne, Laurent Perrier, Moet, Obama, Queen, Ridgeview, september 25th, sparkling wine, Sussex, Veuve Clicquot
Gary Oldman, who plays George Smiley in the newly released re-adaptation of the John le Carré novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy directed by Tomas Alfredson, won a scholarship to Rose Bruford College in Sidcup, Kent, where he received a BA in Theatre Arts in 1979. (Note for purists: whilst technically now part of Greater London, Sidcup was once referred to as the ‘Gateway to Kent’ and retains Kent as its county reference due to the fact that the Royal Mail did not update the postcodes in 1965 when Greater London was created.)
Oldman is an extraordinarily versatile actor whose other film personae include Sid Vicious, Lee Harvey Oswald and Ludvig van Beethoven. He was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company during their 1985–86 London season and received an Emmy Award nomination for two guest appearances in Friends in 2001. Multi-talented, he tutored Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe on bass guitar! His sister, Laila Morse, is also an actress, best known as Mo Harris in the BBC’s long-running series EastEnders. Oldman currently lives in Los Angeles.
Other stars of the film with links to the South East including Benedict Cumberbatch who was educated at Brambletye School in West Sussex and John Hurt who was sent to St Michael’s Preparatory School in Otford, Kent at the age of eight. The film’s stellar cast also includes Colin Firth CBE (Pride and Prejudice and The King’s Speech) and Simon McBurney OBE (think choir master/Teletubbies wedding in The Vicar of Dibley).
The South East of England offers many opportunities for film-location themed tours. Films made in the region range from period dramas such as The Other Boleyn Girl and Jane Austen’s Emma and Pride and Prejudice to Brighton Rock, and the inspiration for 007 James Bond.
Posted in Events, Kent, Surrey, Sussex
Tagged Colin Firth, Eastenders, Emmy Awards, Film Locations, Friends, Gary Oldman, George Smiley, Harry Potter, Jane Austen Tours, John Hurt, South East England, The King's Speech, The Other Boleyn Girl, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy