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Sherlock Holmes - 221B Baker Street / The Reichenbach Falls

221B Baker Street is the London address of the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, created by author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In the United Kingdom, postal addresses with a number followed by a letter may indicate a separate address within a larger, often residential building. Baker Street in Holmes' time was a high-class residential district, and Holmes' apartment was probably part of a Georgian terrace.
At the time the Holmes stories were published, addresses in Baker Street did not go as high as 221. Baker Street was later extended, and in 1932 the Abbey National Building Society moved into premises at 219–229 Baker Street. For many years, Abbey National employed a full-time secretary to answer mail addressed to Sherlock Holmes. In 1990, a blue plaque signifying 221B Baker Street was installed at the Sherlock Holmes Museum, situated elsewhere on the same block, and there followed a 15-year dispute between Abbey National and the Holmes Museum for the right to receive mail addressed to 221B Baker Street. Since the closure of Abbey House in 2005, ownership of the address by the Holmes Museum has not been challenged, despite its location between 237 and 241 Baker Street.

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The fictional address has been satirised in the following pastiches of Sherlock Holmes:
  • Private detective Louie Knight moves into an office at 22/1B Stryd-y-Popty (which translates as Baker Street in Welsh) in Malcolm Pryce's Welsh Noir parody The Unbearable Lightness of Being in AberystwythISBN 978-0-7475-7894-9.
  • The 1987 CBS movie The Return of Sherlock Holmes (not to be confused with the 1986 British television series of the same name) features Holmes, cryogenically frozen in 1899 and awakened in modern times, trying to adapt with the aid of Watson's granddaughter, Jane. He seeks out his old residence and finds the spot occupied by a McDonald's franchise.
  • Dr. Gregory House, the protagonist of House, M.D., lives at 221 Baker Street, Apartment B, Princeton, NJ, 08542, as shown on the character's driver license seen in the episode "Two Stories" first aired 21 February 2011. This address previously appears on the $5,000 check he writes (and eventually slides through the mail slot) to Lorenzo Wibberly in Season 6, Episode 11: "Remorse."
  • Danger Mouse, in the cartoon show of the same name, is said to live in a post box near 221b Baker Street. However, Danger Mouse is a loose parody of Danger Man and James Bond, rather than Sherlock Holmes.
  • Shinichi Kudo, the protagonist of the Detective Conan series by Gosho Aoyama, resides in 2/21B Beika ("Baker" when transcribed to English) Street. Most landmarks and brand names in the series pay homage to this famous address as well, including the Beika Elementary School where Conan Edogawa studies.
  • In the Phryne Fisher series by Kerry Greenwood, the detective Hon. Phryne Fisher resides at 221 The Esplanade, St Kilda (Melbourne, Australia), which she renumbers to 221B in homage to Holmes.
  • In the MMORPG Wizard101, a detective named Sherlock Bones lives in an apartment at 221B Barker Street in Marleybone, a spoof of 19th century London populated by dogs.

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The Reichenbach Falls (Reichenbachfall) are a series of waterfalls on the River Aar near Meiringen in the Canton of Bern in central Switzerland. They have a total drop of 250 m (820 ft). At 90 m (295.2 ft), the Upper Reichenbach Falls is one of the highest cataracts in the Alps. The falls are made accessible by the Reichenbachfall-Bahn funicular railway. Today, a hydro-electric power company harnesses the flow of the Reichenbach Falls during certain times of year, greatly reducing its flow. In popular culture, the falls are known as the location of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's hero Sherlock Holmes' final fight with his
nemesis Moriarty.

The town and the falls are known worldwide as the setting for an entirely fictional event: it is the location where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's hero, Sherlock Holmes, fights to the death with his archnemesis, Professor Moriarty, at the end of The Final Problem. Out of many waterfalls in the Bernese Oberland, the Reichenbach Falls seems to have made the greatest impression on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of the Sherlock Holmes stories, having been shown them one Swiss holiday by his host and founder of Lunn Polyand the Public Schools Alpine Sports Club (later the Alpine Ski Club), Sir Henry Lunn. His grandson, the skier and SIS spymaster, Peter Lunn recalled “My grandfather said 'Push him over the Reichenbach Falls’ and Conan Doyle hadn’t heard of them, so he showed them to him.” So impressed was Doyle that he decided to let his hero die there. A memorial plate at the funicular station commemorates Holmes and there is a Sherlock Holmes museum in the nearby town of Meiringen.

The actual ledge from which Moriarty and Holmes apparently fell is on the other side of the falls to the funicular; it is accessible by climbing the path to the top of the falls, crossing the bridge and following the trail down the hill. The ledge is marked by a plaquewritten in English, German and French; the English inscription reads, "At this fearful place, Sherlock Holmes vanquished Professor Moriarty, on 4 May 1891." The pathway on which the duel between Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty occurs ends some hundred yards away from the falls. When Doyle viewed the falls, the path ended very close to the falls, close enough to touch it, yet over the hundred years after his visit, the pathway has become unsafe and slowly eroded away, and due to the nature of waterfalls, the falls have receded further back into the gorge.

Comments for this entry


Always a pleasure to meet a Sherlockian :)

Nice list of references to Sherlock Holmes.


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