Real Street with a Non-existent Number
Though Sherlock Holmes successfully solved many enigmatic criminal cases, his residence remained shrouded in mystery for years. Probably the most famous literary address has actually never quite existed. Arthur Conan Doyle published A Study in Scarlet, the first novel starring the genius detective and Dr. Watson, in 1887.
The author settled his heroes on London's Baker Street, a real street built by William Baker in the 18th century and named after him. However, the street was too short in Doyle's time to have such a high number. Thus, Holmes enthusiasts were looking in vain for the detective's residence at the time.
An Unexpected Role for a Building Society
Over time, Baker Street grew and eventually reached number 221. However, it was not a detached house, only part of the house block 219-229. In the 1930s, The British Abbey National Building Society moved its seat there. And since fans of the legendary detective would not miss anything, they soon found out about the emergence of the number 221 and began to flood the address with letters.
The company dealt with them in a peculiar way - it hired a secretary, whose only job was to handle the correspondence of the fictional hero. Most of the answers were said to be limited to the announcement that the detective had gone to rest in Sussex, where he was engaged in beekeeping. Abbey National enjoyed the privilege of the famous address until 1990. After that, a strong competition has arisen.
The Prestigious Address is Won by the Museum
In 1990, a great attraction for tourists from all over the world opened on Baker Street - the Sherlock Holmes Museum, in house number 239. Its administrators naturally felt much more suitable to respond to fan letters.
However, Abbey National did not want to relinquish its rights. Their mutual dispute did not end until 2002, when the building society moved out of Baker Street. All the letters addressed to Sherlock Holmes began to go exclusively to the museum. Its website proudly reports that it is "located at one of the world's most famous addresses, Baker Street 221B".
Technically, it is not true, but who cares? Certainly not the fans who come here to walk through a replica of Sherlock's apartment, soak up the Victorian atmosphere and sit in the chair where their brilliant hero was supposed to sit.