Posted by: Tyler Green | 08/20/2011

Mysteries from Britain

What do Jack the Ripper, Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes, Titanic, and the Loch Ness Monster all have in common?  I was fortunate enough to visit their respective “homes” on my recent London and British Isles trip.  I am used to visiting popular tourist sites of both national and global recognition, but these stops were unique because their character or legend is what makes them famous, not simply the site itself.  Even though this list contains a mix of fiction and non-fiction, I felt their fame and mystery merit the grouping.  To combine five of them on a single hop across the Atlantic was quite a thrill.

Jack the Ripper – Whitechapel District, London, England
I took an evening walking tour through the streets of the Whitechapel District, where Jack the Ripper is credited with the murders of 5 prostitutes in 1888.  Even though most of the architecture was fairly new due to the reconstruction after the WWII bombings, there was no obvious industrial or residential influence to give the area an active feel.  I think the area would have been terrifying back in 1888 while riddled with widespread poverty, but even the present-day winter (and, therefore, in the dark) tour would have been pretty frightening as well.

Harry Potter – King’s Cross, London, England
I rode the Underground to the King’s Cross station to try and push the luggage trolley through the wall at Platform 9 3/4.  Several other fans had the same idea and there was a line to take pictures that was just long enough to make it feel worthwhile, but not too long as to be frustrating.  It is not often when a fictional character is honored a physical memorial, so it was neat to visit this one.

Sherlock Holmes – 221b Baker Street, London, England
Just a ways down the line from King’s Cross was the Baker Street stop, and I was able to tour the retroactively-established residence of the world’s most famous detective.  Mr. Holmes is another character that has been introduced into reality with the installation of his Baker Street flat.  The skinny 4-story apartment is filled with period items and, in pure Victorian style, no air conditioning.

Titanic – Harland and Wolff Shipyard, Belfast, Northern Ireland
The RMS Titanic was constructed at the Harland and Wolff Shipyard from 1909 to 1911, and I was able to see large yellow cranes currently used for shipbuilding at this site while driving through the Port of Belfast.  I also went to the grounds of Belfast City Hall and found the Titanic Memorial, which was erected in 1920 and illustrates the importance of the ship to the city, as it had spent the majority of its life there.  After fascinating the masses for decades due to its failure, it was neat to visit the origin of the topic whose books occupied a sizable portion of real estate on my childhood bookshelves.

Loch Ness Monster – Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness, Drumnadrochit, Scotland
I was able to explore Urquhart Castle, which is the location of most of the sightings of the Loch Ness Monster.  Unfortunately, Nessie did not make an appearance during my visit, but the souvenir shop had plenty of books exploring the mysterious “Surgeon’s Photograph” and other famous glimpses.  Even without viewing the monster, the castle and lake provided a gorgeous Scottish vista.

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Responses

  1. Loch ness is in scotland… not really britain, like you mentioned in your post. LOL.. but nice post though, very interesting 🙂


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