Puppydog tails — 28 December 2018

LONDON HAS ALWAYS been a rich seam for novelists, its diverse population from every corner of the world, 2,000 year history and a wonderful varied architecture makes for works of fiction.

Here is a CabbieBlog’s illustrated list of front doors that don’t exist:

new-black-door 280 Westbourne Park Road: Remember the famous blue door that belonged to Hugh Grant’s character in the 1999 romantic comedy Notting Hill? When the movie was filmed, it belonged to Notting Hill writer and director Richard Curtis, after it became such a hit (the highest grossing British film to date, in fact), Curtis cleverly sold his home at a nice profit, nice work if you can get it. The new owners became tired of all the attention their famous blue door received and auctioned it off for charity, and a nondescript black door now stands in its place.

221b Baker Street 221b Baker Street: When Conan Doyle installed his great detective at No 221 the street numbering ran no further than 85. It was renumbered in the 1930s, with former building society Abbey National landing the desirable 221. For a period, Abbey even assigned staff to answer correspondence addressed to Sherlock Holmes. In 1990, a Sherlock Holmes Museum open on the street, and despite its address being 237, Westminster Council allowed it to adopt the number 221b. All Sherlock Holmes letters, however elementary, are no handled there.

27a Wimpole Street 27a Wimpole Street: “I have often walked down this street before”. The masculine book lined study occupied by Professor Henry Higgins who takes a bet from Colonel Pickering that he can transform unrefined, dirty Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle into a lady in My Fair Lady are supposedly at this address, although in reality the premises are occupied by a doctors’ surgery.

110a Piccadilly 110a Piccadilly: Why Dorothy L. Sayer invented a fictional address for her great character Lord Peter Wimsey she inserted an ‘a’ in the address, suggesting either an act of homage to Sherlock Holmes or a sly parody. Unfortunately as a front door it remains fictional for the Park Lane Hotel ballroom occupies the site.

A version of this post was published by CabbieBlog on 20th August 2010

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