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  • Writer's pictureRichard Chambers

The Sherlock Holmes Statue - A little known story...

Just outside Baker Street Station fans of Sherlock Holmes will find the fantastic statue by Sculptor John Doubleday commissioned by the Abbey National Building Society in the late 1990's.

For me personally this statue is more than just the image of the famous "Consulting Detective", it is quite literally a friend of mine!

I will reveal why shortly, but before I do here is a bit of background to why the statue came to be commisioned by Abbey National Building Society.

Lets travel back to the London of the 1880's and the time Sherlock was created by Arthur Conan Doyle. If you look at street maps from the period and search for Baker Street you will see at the north end, Baker Street becomes "Upper Baker Street" and this is how it stayed until the 1930's when Upper Baker Street was absorbed in to Baker Street to form one long road stretching all the way down to Oxford Street.

When Arthur Conan Doyle wrote the first Sherlock Holmes story 'A Study in Scarlet' in 1887 he makes hand written notes in the draft stating that "Holmes and Watson live in Upper Baker Street" later settling on 221b which didn't exist as the time.

However in the 1930's after Conan Doyles death, when Upper Baker Street was absorbed in to the rest of Baker Street, the Abbey National Building Society was headquarted at the newly numbered 219-221 Baker Street, effectively creating a real 221 that hadn't existed in the time the Sherlock Holmes stories were created.

With the coming of Film and TV in the early part of the 20th century, Sherlock Holmes popularity soared, and the Abbey National Building Society based at 221 Baker Street recieved all the fan mail!

Eventually the company had to employ a Secretary to answer all the mail addressed to Sherlock Holmes, Dr Watson, Mrs Hudson, and even Billy the Pageboy.

By the 1990's the Abbey National decided to commision a statue of Sherlock Holmes so fans from around the world had a focal point to celebrate the worlds most famous detective.

I heard stories that the Abbey National recieved mail addressed to Sherlock Holmes asking for his help to find missing cats, or lost items and people would send him money. The money that couldn't be returned was later used to fund the statue.

(That is the version of events I heard, but I am happy to be corrected by Abbey National)

This is where a man called Charles Daniels enters the story.

Charles Daniel as Sherlock Holmes Pictured around 1997.

Back in the late 1990's Charles was working at the Sherlock Holmes Museum. His job varied from day to day. Sometimes he would dress as a victorian "Bobby" policeman and inspect tickets, and other times he would dress head to toe as Sherlock Holmes and hand out flyers to tourists near Baker Street Station on the spot the Sherlock statue now sits.

One day as Charles was dressed as Sherlock and handing out leaflets he noticed a man taking several photographs of him. This wasn't unusual as many people would stop and ask for a picture.

But Charles got in to a conversation with the man, and in Charles recollections of events it turned out that the man was John Doubleday the Sculptor who had been commisioned to create the Sherlock Holmes Statue.

Presumably he was inspecting the spot where the statue was due to stand, and in doing so encountered Charles Daniel dressed just like the intended subject.

It gets a little hazy at this point, Charles remembers Mr Doubleday taking photos with him, and perhaps using those photos as a study to aid his creation back at the studio.

I decided to contact John Doubleday and see if he had any recollections of these events, I recieved the following reply by email...

"Dear Richard,

I do vaguely remember having an encounter with someone dressed as Sherlock Holmes. Exactly where it fitted in to the story is now, I'm afraid lost to me. Sorry I can't be more help.

Yours, John"

Mr Doubleday has created some wonderful statues and scuptures and his Sherlock Holmes that stands outside Baker Street station is no exeption, photographed by hundreds if not thousands of people on a daily basis.

When I take people on a tour of the London of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, I always stop at the statue and tell my clients that my friend Charles Daniel was potentially used as a model in the creation of this magnificent celebration of "The Great Detective"

Mr Doubleday can no longer confirm or deny this as fact, but whatever the story, the statue now stands on the very spot that my friend Charles stood for a number of years dressed as Mr Sherlock Holmes promoting the museum.

Here is Charles Daniel with Sculptor John Doubleday at the unveiling of the Sherlock Holmes Statue in 1999.

I recently caught up with Charles for lunch and we took some updated photos. Charles is now retired and will turn 75 this year.


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