Weekly Forum: Country Houses — 7 Comments

  1. For me, the most memorable country house is the small cottage near Poldhu Bay on the Cornish peninsula. The description of the house and its surrounding environment were so vividly expressed by Dr. Watson that you could feel the cold winds against your face and picture the lonely moors.

    Although a perilous and memorable experiment took place at the cottage, I remember it best thanks to the episode adapted by Granada for TV. There was a quiet scene where Brett’s Holmes walks by the raging waves and rejects his reliance on his 7% solution for good. I’d like to think that coaxing Holmes away from his addiction was among Watson’s reasons to bringing him out to that cottage. He seems to allude to that when he stated:

    “It was, then, in the spring of the year 1897 that Holmes’s iron constitution showed some symptoms of giving way in the face of constant hard work of a most exacting kind, aggravated, perhaps, by occasional indiscretions of his own.”

  2. Of course Baskerville Hall and Burlstone Manor are major “characters” in their stories and COPP, SHOS, WIST are named for the houses the mystery occurs in, but the first “country house” that sprung to my mind was the cottage Lucy Hebron was kept in in YELL.

    • Pippin, as always, makes an interesting and provocative comment. Can we ask him to expound upon his intriguing but unexpected choice of country houses?
      Carla’s selection is also noteworthy. I would like to learn what she thinks about the home to which Sherlock later retired to keep bees.

      • I love the place where he chose his retirement. In fact, I have a particular weakness for any pastiche that takes place in the Sussex Downs or set during those years, such as “A Slight Trick of the Mind” (so exciting that it’s going to be made into an Ian McKellen movie!) and Neil Gaiman’s “The Case of Death and Honey” (I wish this would also be made into an Ian McKellen movie…).

        I only state the Poldhu Bay cottage over the Sussex cottage as “most memorable” to my mind because I felt it held a particularly notable (and, in adaptions such as the Granada series, pivotal) event in the history of Holmes and Watson’s friendship.

        But yes, I adore the home where he later retired. It’s like a country version of 221b(ee) Baker Street.

      • Grant Munro pains an attractive picture of the cottage:”Our little place was very countrified, considering that it is so close to town. We had an inn and two houses a little above us, and a single cottage at the other side of the field which faces us, and except those there were no houses until you got half-way to the station….Well, I told you just now that there is a cottage not far from our house. There is just a field between us, but to reach it you have to go along the road and then turn down a lane. Just beyond it is a nice little grove of Scotch firs, and I used to be very fond of strolling down there, for trees are always neighbourly kinds of things. The cottage had been standing empty this eight months, and it was a pity, for it was a pretty two-storied place, with an old-fashioned porch and honeysuckle about it. I have stood many a time and thought what a neat little homestead it would make.” Into this tranquil and appealing scene an “unnatural and inhuman” face is glimpsed at the window, a chilly and rude occupant and a wife lying and keeping secrets. These juxtapositions have always stuck in my mind and made that Norbury cottage memorable.

    • That is a fascinating elaboration about the cottage in YELL, Pippin. Thank you for sharing it with us!

  3. The houses in SPEC and MUSG have always produced an atmosphere in keeping with the stories and, as such, contribute to the story line. Both have elements concerning the rooms, the construction and the grounds that are integral to the cases. Also, Baskerville Hall has always–at least for me–been a major character in the book. I become totally “within” the setting and the atmosphere every time I read HOUN, a remarkable achievement for the writer.