Sherlock Holmes and Black Shuck - Cromer

Picture (c) by John Ashley Photography

In March 1901 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) author of the super sleuth Sherlock Holmes, returned from South Africa where he had contracted enteric fever. Doyle decided to recoup on the Norfolk coast where he planned to rest and play some golf with his friend and companion Bertram Fletcher Robinson. Robinson was a collector of local stories and strange tales, over golf he regaled his friend with these stories one of which was the chilling tale of 'Black Shuck' the Hell Hound of Norfolk.

Doyle is said to have been so intrigued with this ghostly legend that it inspired him to write one of his greatest mysteries the 'Hound of the Baskervilles' (1902). So it was that during the evenings whilst Doyle and Robinson were staying at the Royal Links Hotel in Cromer they planned the outline for this new story.

According to legend one of Black Shucks tracks runs through today what is Mill Lane past the then Royal Links Hotel over the hill into the grounds of Cromer Hall. Doyle was acquainted with Lord Cromer and visited him during his stay in Cromer. 

The original Cromer Hall had been destroyed by fire and then rebuilt in a Gothic style with heavily mullioned windows and towers, which at that time of Doyle's visit were covered in ivy.
The description of Cromer Hall almost perfectly matches Doyle's description of Baskerville Hall in his story. Robinson also had a manservant called Henry Baskerville. 

Unfortunately for Norfolk, Doyle then moved on to Dartmoor and decided to use this as the setting for his Hound of the Baskervilles rather than Cromer.
The Royal Links Hotel has long since gone, but Cromer Hall still stands though it is not open to the public.

Doyle visited Norfolk on a number of occasions and even wrote another of his Sherlock stories 'The Dancing Men' from a hotel in Happisburgh.

On this occasion Doyle did use 'Norfolk' as his setting for the story.

The monochrome photograph below was sent in by Alec a regular norfolkcoast visitor, after he read our recent Newsletter. It clearly shows the location of the hotel in relation to the Cromer lighthouse.

This coloured old post card picture shown below is of the Royal Links Hotel, Cromer which was very kindly supplied by Norfolkeye. 

The hotel was built in 1888 but was unfortunately destroyed by fire in 1949. A fantastic split level building with a promenade terrace surrounding the building on the middle floor, and a tower in the eastern corner.
The building sits comfortably into the side of the hill, with the main entrance being on the middle floor.