Sherlock Holmes and Arthur Conan Doyle investigation brings TV historian to Beaulieu

BBC Lucy Worsley's Conan Doyle investigation
Posted  24.11.2023
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TV historian Lucy Worsley’s investigation into ‘the curious case of Sherlock Holmes and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’ has brought her to Beaulieu, where the author famously held a séance in Palace House..

Her findings will be revealed in her new series Killing Sherlock: Lucy Worsley on the Case of Conan Doyle which starts on BBC2 at 9pm on Sunday 10th December.

Over the course of three episodes, Lucy Worsley investigates the extraordinary love-hate relationship between one of the world’s most famous fictional detectives and Doyle, the complex man who created him.

BBC Lucy Worsley's Conan Doyle investigation

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle turned to spiritualism after the loss of his eldest son and was attracted to Beaulieu because of its rich history and reported supernatural sightings. He visited with a Medium and held a séance in the Drawing Room of Palace House, as part of his ongoing research into paranormal activity in the early 1900s.

During their séance they spoke to the spirit of a man who had been convicted of a crime and his punishment was to have his body buried within the walls of the ‘precinct’, but his head and hands buried elsewhere. The spirit asked to be re-buried together so he could be at peace, and the location he described for the missing limbs would today be under the modern car park in the village. Doyle also made contact with a crowned spirit thought to be royalty, possibly connected to the high-ranking burials at the altar in Beaulieu Abbey.

On an earlier visit to Beaulieu, the sound of the bell ringing at Beaulieu Abbey Church gave the author inspiration for the atmospheric setting of his book The White Company. Travelling back in time to Beaulieu Abbey’s days as the home of Cistercian monks, his story describes the ‘great bell of Beaulieu’ ringing across the forest to summon the white-robed monks as they hurried back to the Cloister.

Lucy Worsley was filmed ringing Beaulieu’s church bell as she recounted Doyle’s story. She explains: “I have had a life-long crush on Sherlock Holmes, so it was the biggest pleasure imaginable to explore his life, death and resurrection. While exploring his life and times, I also got a real and sometimes troubling insight into manliness, Empire and Victorian values. I find his creator, Arthur Conan Doyle, to be a complex, contradictory and endlessly fascinating character.”

Her new series will be accompanied by a Conan Doyle-themed ghost story for Christmas from the co-creator of Sherlock, Mark Gatiss. The drama Lot No. 249 will star Kit Harington and Freddie Fox.

Palace House and the atmospheric ruins of 13th century Beaulieu Abbey can be seen as part of a visit to Beaulieu. For tickets and details click here or call or call 01590 612345.

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