SUPER sleuth Sherlock Holmes is said to have retired in the sleepy countryside surrounding Eastbourne.
Holmes experts have long maintained that the hugely popular fictional character ended his days in East Dean after Sherlock author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle hinted at as much in the preface of one of his books.
In the first few pages of ‘His Last Bow,’ the writer said Holmes retired to “a small farm upon the Downs, five miles from Eastbourne.”
Conan Doyle knew the area well, having been born in Crowborough, and was said to have been a regular visitor to the Eastbourne area during the later years of his life.
And another clue which has helped Holmes enthusiasts come up with East Dean as the likely setting for the world’s most famous detective is his love of bees.
Holmes needed a sheltered spot to keep his beloved bees – a fact which has ruled out a number of potential retirement spots. East Dean though, is sheltered from the coastal gales, and therefore still a genuine contender.
Much to the delight of locals, the official Sherlock Holmes Society supports East Dean’s claims – with a former chairman of the club suggesting that a house on the village green opposite the old farm (New House Farm) was a plausible location for Holmes’ retirement.
Now, with the detective more popular than ever thanks to the hit BBC series ‘Sherlock’, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, a six kilometre stroll has been set up so fans can follow in his fictional footsteps.
It starts at Holmes’s suspected retirement home and heads off through Friston Church and a grave stone mysteriously marked ‘Washed Ashore’.
It then continues along a route over the South Downs, through the old smuggling village of Crowlink (famous for Crowlink gin) and on to the chalk cliffs on the coastline, returning via the red barn and then back to East Dean.
According to the Holmes boffins, this is the route Sherlock Holmes would have taken when he was out studying his bees and when he met Mary Russell and his adventures with her began.
For more information on the walk, and the history of Sherlock in the Eastbourne area, visit www.beachyhead.org.uk.