What can you find here? Reviews of new and not quite so new Sherlock Holmes novels and collections. Interviews with authors, link to blogs worth following, links to where you can purchase my books and some reviews of my work garnered from Amazon sites. Plus a few scary pics of me and a link to various Lyme Regis videos on YouTube...see what we do here and how....and indeed why!!! Next to the Lyme Regis Video Bar is a Jeremy Brett as Holmes Video Bar and now a Ross K Video Bar. And stories and poems galore in the archives.

Wednesday 27 March 2013

Lives remembered ( and imagined!).

For those of you who have read the Sherlock Holmes/ Lyme Regis trilogy, here are some biographical notes on the major characters, what they did and where they did it. For those who haven't read the trilogy or any part thereof, look away now. No, now. Look away. yes, thats's it. Thank you.

Beatrice Heidler/Watson.....Mrs Beatrice Heidler in 1902, became Watson’s second wife. They had first met in 1896 during the adventure chronicled by Watson as ‘The Lyme Regis Horror’. She was born, Beatrice Walker, in 1859 and married Henry Heidler (d. February 28th 1881) in January 1880. Nathaniel, her son, was born in October 1880. After her husband’s death at the battle of Majuba Hill, she was invited by her Aunt Letitia to come and keep house for her in Lyme Regis. Upon the passing of her aunt, Mrs Heidler turned the house into a boarding-establishment. Mrs Beatrice Watson died of pneumonia in 1947.
Mrs Beatrice Heidler/Watson.

Nathaniel Heidler.... Born in 1880. He worked at various jobs in Lyme Regis including those of a boot-boy, fisherman and gardener. He married his childhood sweetheart, Elizabeth Hill, in 1901 and with financial help from his mother, was able to purchase a cottage in Coombe Street. A son, Andrew, was born to them in late 1903 and a daughter, Jennifer, in 1905. Nathaniel enlisted in the Dorset Regiment when the Great War began. He was wounded at Verdun in November 1916 and mentioned in dispatches. Finding life difficult in Lyme after the war, he took over the running of a farm near High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire. He died in 1974.

Elizabeth Hill/Heidler..... Born in January 1881. Miss Hill lost both her parents during an outbreak of influenza in 1894 and came to live with her aunt, Mrs Irene Hannington. She was schooled at home, along with her cousin Rose, by Mrs Hannington. 1896 brought further tragedies when Rose was murdered and Elizabeth herself abducted, but saved through the efforts of Nathaniel. When the family moved to Buckinghamshire in 1923, Elizabeth became a housekeeper for a family in Princes Risborough and stayed with them until 1939. She died as a result of a road accident in 1957. Andrew Heidler became a successful furniture maker in High Wycombe, a tradition his own sons, Derek and Adrian carry on. Jennifer was last heard of by the family in Australia in 1936, after that all contact was lost.
Elizabeth Hill/Heidler

Lydia Hutchings.... Lydia was born in 1884, the youngest of four siblings. While still at school she helped Mrs Heidler out at the boarding-house and also at a local tea-room. Upon leaving school, she joined a theatre group and toured England before pitching up in London where she obtained work in both music-halls and theatres. Her one-woman shows became legendary; amongst others, she portrayed, Mary Anning, Joan of Arc, Mary Queen of Scots and Boudicca. In 1916 she received numerous accolades for her playing of Hamlet at the Adelphi theatre. Lydia can be spotted in early British films of the period including a early Alfred Hitchcock production. She was an occasional splendid matriarchal figure in the Powell-Pressburger films of the fifties. Little is known of her life after that time and she all but disappeared from public view until she popped up to do a reading at Nathaniel Heidler’s funeral in 1974.

Irene Hannington.... Was born in 1850, Irene Charles and spent her childhood in Chatham. She became a music teacher of some repute and became very well respected. In 1874 she entered the household of the Hannington family to teach the two youngest step-children and fell for Henry Hannington’s own son, Richard. They married in 1876 and their daughter, Rose, was born in 1878. Richard Hannington was to become a very successful banker and also an MP. He kept their townhouse in Chelsea, but bought for family holidays, a fine house near Lyme. This became the full-time family home in 1891. After the death of Rose in 1896, Richard rarely came to the family home. Irene lived alone in the house until her death in 1931.

Constable/Sergeant Street... Joe Street was a Lyme man, born in 1871. He joined the police force in 1894, the year after marrying a local girl, Belinda. Promotion to Sergeant came about in 1899, a rank he kept until he retired from the police force at the end of the Great War. Thereafter he ran a tobacconists in Lyme Regis and also became involved in civic duties as Town Crier. He and Belinda retired to Bexhill on Sea in 1938 where he served as captain of the local Home Guard. Belinda’s career as a teacher was long and fruitful and culminated in being given the post of Headmistress at the Devon Girl’s Academy in Sidmouth. 
Joe Street

Constable John Legg.... John Legg was born in Lyme Regis during 1879. His education was unexceptional and he was often behind escapades such as scrumping around the town along with other misdemeanours. It was surprising then, that he elected to join the police force in 1898. He was a dependable and brave officer who became firm friends with Joe Street. In early 1904 he married Miss Beth Markey and they settled down together in a small flat in Pound Road. Like Nathaniel Heidler, he too joined the Dorset Regiment with the outbreak of war. They fought together and were wounded together at Verdun. He was last seen leading a charge across no-man’s land at Amiens in August 1918. His body was never recovered. Beth Legg never re-married and devoted her life to her two daughters, Amy and Marie who both attended Somerville College and were taken under the wing of Dame Emily Penrose. Beth herself became a local journalist of note once Amy and Marie had fled the nest, editing two local newspapers.

Doctor Godfrey Jacobs.... Dr Jacobs was a London man, born in Lewisham in 1852. He took his degree at London University where he met a young John Watson. Jacobs joined Watson in the Blackheath rugby side where he was affectionately known as ‘Godders’. He was a full back with a devastating turn of speed and an accurate passer of the ball. He and Watson won many games for their side almost single-handedly. After his marriage (see below) he went into general practice in Shoreditch and in 1891 took an opportunity offered to him to take over a practice in Lyme Regis. He was later to serve as Chief Medical Officer for the town and later, for the whole of Dorset. He died of a heart attack whilst out fishing in 1919.
Dr Godfrey Jacobs

Sarah Jacob... Sarah was born September 1865 in the village of Hook Norton. Her family moved to London in 1878 and she completed her education at the Shoreditch School For Girls. Failing to obtain her degree in nursing, she became an assistant at the local medical practice where she met Godfrey Jacobs. They married in 1886 within four months of their first meeting. By 1896 when the family migrated to Dorset they had two children, Arthur born in 1887 and Cecil who arrived in 1889. Violet came into the world in late 1896 to complete the family. Sarah continued to assist her husband in the running of his practice. When war broke out she elected to join the VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment) and although most of her time was spent in hospitals here, she did find herself in France with the British Expeditionary Force. After the tragic events (see below) of the war and the death of her husband, Sarah set up a women’s charity in Dorset which she was involved in for the rest of her life. Sarah Jacobs died in 1952 following a series of strokes.

Arthur Jacobs... Arthur followed in his father’s footsteps and attended London University medical school. He graduated in 1910 and became an under-surgeon at Barts. When the 1914 conflict began he offered his services as a soldier rather than a doctor/surgeon. His first action was in the rearguard action at Le Cateau and he then became involved in the first Battle of the Marne where he lost his life.

Cecil Jacobs.... Cecil bucked the trend started by his father and older brother by opting for the life of a farmer, beginning as a farm-hand on a large farm near Rousdon. In 1911 at the age of twenty-two he acquired his own small-holding which grew into something much larger. He volunteered for active service as soon as the Great War began. He was wounded during the Battle of the Marne where his brother fell. He was invalided home but rejoined his regiment in early 1915 and died at Neuve-Chappelle.

Violet Jacobs... Violet’s happy childhood gave way to the horrors of her teens when she lost both her brothers during the Great War and then her father a few years later when she was twenty-three. The sorrows that she suffered during the war resulted in a staunch pacifism which punctuated and drove her long life. She became a teacher after gaining a late degree in 1921; she taught politics and social history and became a noted member of the British Peace Movement and the Labour Party. She held junior ministerial positions in Labour governments up until 1974 (when she was 78) and was a fearsome back-bencher who none argued with if they had any sense. Violet never married and died in her sleep late 1995 in her one-hundredth year.

William Curtis... Believed to have been born in 1825 or 1826. He spent most of his early life as a farmer, being the son of a farmer. He very suddenly took off for France in 1853, citing a hitherto unknown hankering for the life of an artist. He returned to Lyme in 1874 and resumed his farming activities at first and then buying himself a pony and trap he became an affordable means of transport for many citizens. He grew more eccentric in his habits and clothing as the years went by. He was a man of few words except mostly to himself. It was no surprise to be transported by William and to hear him grumbling away in a Dorset-French accent. In July of 1904 he set off for Seaton to collect a family who were requiring onward travel to Lyme. He never arrived and was never seen again.

Inspector James Baddeley.... James Baddeley was born into a poor family in Dorchester in 1843. He completed his schooling in 1858 and eventually drifted into the Dorset Constabulary after a spell as a cabbie. He was promoted to the rank of inspector in 1881 and posted to Bridport where he was to remain until he retired in 1902. He elected to the town council there in 1905 and served two terms as Town Mayor (1906-1908 and 1909-1911). He died after a short illness in 1924.

Sergeant Alfred Quick... A Lyme man through and through. He was a dogged policeman who stood for no nonsense. Firm and fair, he was well respected in the town. After retiring from the police force in 1897 he became the landlord of The Volunteer Arms where he was to remain until his death at the age 70 in 1916.
John Legg

Matthew Johnson.... Born in the North of England during the hot summer of 1875. That long, hot and dry summer was the death knell for his father’s farm and the family migrated to Birmingham and eventually to Exeter. Matthew went his own way in 1896 and pitched up in Lyme Regis. After losing his employment in the town he moved to Brighton and became well-known in house-agent circles there before heading back to Dorset. Johnson and Johnson became one of Dorset’s most respected land-agents, so much so that Matthew was able to retire in 1928 and lived out his remaining years in his beloved Lake District.

Lt Matthew Webb... A Devon man, he was born in Okehampton in 1880. He joined the Royal Navy in1898 and rose rapidly through the ranks. He became an Admiral in 1919 and spent much of his time sitting behind a desk in Whitehall. Tiring of this he retired from the Navy and moved to Spain in 1925 and became the proprietor of San Sebastian’s first tattoo parlour. He was proud to have tattooed members of both factions during the civil war there. The tattoo parlour was sold off in 1950 and history is silent thereafter on the exploits of Mr Webb.

Count Orlana.... A nobleman, born in 1384 in a remote part of Transylvania. At some point in his bloodthirsty life he became a vampire, indeed the most feared of vampires. His life was finally extinguished in 1896……or was it?

Lyme harbour 1890's.

Thursday 14 March 2013


I find it recorded in my notebook that it was a foggy evening in late November 1895 on which the singular series of events that became known to the public at large as “The Case of the Cornish Pasty” first began. Holmes and I were seated on either side of a blazing log fire in our Baker Street rooms; he was apparently engrossed in the latest edition of the Strand magazine and all the time muttering the odd word about sensationalism which I took as reference to my humble attempts to publicise his work to the general public. I vowed to take no notice of these mutterings and continued to read an article in the Lancet, a fascinating but patently absurd piece about the transplanting of human organs, even myself as a medical man could see what ineffable twaddle this was, and moreover, the piece in question soon became extremely tedious and I confess that, after a few minutes, I had fallen into a brown study.

Suddenly, Holmes looked up from his reading. “I notice, Watson,” he said, “that you have visited your hairdresser this morning.”
“Merciful Heavens, Holmes!” I ejaculated. “How could you possibly have known that?”
“You know my methods,” my friend murmured, almost to himself " Must I explain everything to you my friend ?"
Then suddenly, Holmes’s mood appeared to change in an instant, as he jumped up and waved his magazine excitedly in my face. “But tell me, Watson, what do you make of the little piece on the back page of this most estimable periodical.”
I took the paper from Holmes’s hand and began to read aloud from a half-page advertisement.
“Amazing treasure hunt! Solid gold Cornish pasty buried in grounds of new restaurant by eccentric millionaire Sir Peter Rattenbury. Location of the restaurant to be revealed once the item has been found. Finder may keep the treasure and be the first guest at the Lemon Tree restaurant located…where?”
“A pretty puzzle, I’m sure you’ll agree, Watson.”
“A pretty puzzle indeed. But surely, Holmes, the chances of us.. or anyone...being able to find the treasure with so little information provided are so small as to be infinitesimal.”
“On the contrary, Watson. In fact, I fancy we may be able to solve this little mystery without leaving the comfort of our arm chairs.”
“Surely not, Holmes!” I protested
“Look, Watson, at the photograph of Sir Peter at the bottom of the page, which the caption states was taken on his spacious estate near Lyme Regis on the south coast."

“I confess that I can see nothing of interest whatsoever,” I admitted.
“You see, Watson, but you do not observe. Make deductions as I have shown you so often in the past. If you do, then you will arrive at the inevitable conclusion that Sir Peter Rattenbury has buried the precious comestible, and therefore intends to set up his restaurant, in the grounds of his own home.”
“Really, Holmes, this is too much. I fail to see how you have arrived at that conclusion.”
“Think, Watson. The name of the restaurant. Now look again at the picture of Sir Peter standing next to this subtropical arboreal plant and the crop of yellow fruit it so obviously displays.”
But how…?!” I spluttered.
Holmes looked at me. A wry smile played across his face.
“It’s a lemon-tree my dear Watson.”