Baker Street Times
On Friday 23 March, the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Centre had the privilege of welcoming a very special visitor - Catherine Beggs (nee Doyle) - the great niece of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle!
"Cathy is the grand-daughter of Sir Arthur’s brother Innes, who had a distinguished military career in World War I. She is also a Director of The Conan Doyle Estate. Given that she is one of the closest blood-relatives of Sir Arthur, the visit was extremely exciting for all of us."
Cathy and her husband Mike were in Edinburgh for the official launch of the Sherlock Holmes Tartan, designed by Tania Henzell, Arthur Conan Doyle’s great, great, step-granddaughter. Tania also visited the Conan Doyle Centre last year, when she attended Ann Treherne’s sell-out Edinburgh Festival Fringe Talk on Arthur Conan Doyle. Ann is the Centre’s Founder and Chairman.
“Showing people around our beautiful Centre is a true passion for me”
The day before Cathy’s visit I had a telephone call from our Marketing and Events Coordinator, Hatty, to ask if I could go in early for my shift next day, as they didn’t have a lot of time and would like a tour of the building. Showing people around our beautiful Centre and sharing its history with them is a true passion for me and to be able to share this with such special guests was just incredible.
We had been led to expect just a short visit of around half an hour or so, but Cathy, Mike and their friend Diane ended up staying around an hour and a half. The first 15 minutes were very encouraging, as Ann and Shereen Fazeli, our Venue Manager, told them about the purposes of the Centre, especially that of honouring Conan Doyle here in his hometown. Business cards were exchanged and we are hoping to work with the Conan Doyle Estate in the future.
It was then over to me to tell them about the building. They very much enjoyed the tour, much of which was our ‘virtual tour’ (via Powerpoint), as most of our function rooms were in use. However, they were still able to get a good feel for the place and the sheer splendour of the surroundings, which I wrote about in a previous issue of the Baker Street Times.
"They seemed to particularly enjoy hearing about our beautiful painting called ‘The Dawn of Peace’ by Jane Stewart Smith – painted as the result of a psychic dream. As you may know, Sir Arthur was a great spiritualist himself and devoted many years of his life to promoting spiritualism. They also enjoyed seeing the secret stone spiral stairway and passage used by the Victorian servants. Their interaction was really enthusiastic and Cathy particularly liked the lovely wooden features, including the grand staircase which is truly spectacular."
After the tour, our guests had tea and cake in the Sherlock Holmes Tearoom. They had previously commented on the fact that Conan Doyle did not actually like Sherlock Holmes and that they supported this. Nevertheless, they were very generous in complementing our homage to The Great Detective.
"Cathy also admired the beautiful oak cabinet in the Tearoom with deeply-carved images of The Green Man. It was really wonderful to get her seal of approval!"
Cathy asked for details of Ann’s Fringe talks, so we are hoping that we will be able to welcome her again soon. This was a truly memorable experience for all of us at the Centre and it is a day that I will personally treasure for the rest of my life.
3 Conan Doyle and Holmes Events
Arthur Conan Doyle by Ann Treherne
As part of The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Ann Treherne will be giving her excellent and insightful talks on Arthur Conan Doyle at the Centre again this year. This has been a sell-out show for five years in a row. She talks about Conan Doyle from his childhood in Edinburgh, his schooling and university life, his time as a Doctor and then as a writer. She also talks about his journey into the world of spiritualism and so much more. I have personally been to this talk and there really is no stone left unturned! It’s a real must-see! The dates are 7, 9, 14, 16 and 21 August from 2.00-3.00pm. Tickets HERE and there are some discounts available. There is normally the offer of a free tour/virtual tour of the building after this talk.
The Strange Friendship of Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini by Robert Stek
We will also be welcoming Robert Stek to the Centre as part of the Fringe. His talk is called ‘The Strange Friendship of Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini’, in which he will talk about Conan Doyle’s investigations into psychic phenomena and about the relationship between Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini. The dates are 7, 9, 14, 16 and 21 August from 3.30-4.30pm. Tickets are available HERE and again discounts are available.
The Real Sherlock Holmes Walking Tour
In addition, although not affiliated with the Centre, The Real Sherlock Holmes Walking Tour has been showing visitors and residents alike around Edinburgh as they tell the incredible true story of how Holmes was based on a real man who lived in Edinburgh just over 100 years ago. Join their very own Sherlock (complete with Inverness Cape and deerstalker!) to see where Arthur Conan Doyle lived with his family for four years; learn how, as a young medical student in Edinburgh, Conan Doyle was to meet the man who would inspire the idea of a completely new type of fictional detective; and discover the hidden history and forgotten places where the Holmes legend really began – places unseen by most visitors and fans. For more information and tickets please click HERE
Taken from a Newsletter of British Mensa’s Sherlock Holmes Special Interest Group Issue 21, July 2018.
Baker Street Times 21 (July 2018)