One of the most well-known meeting places between Holmes and Watson was St. Bartholomew’s Hospital. They met there for the first time in the chemistry lab in Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet (Smithsonian, pg. 4). The hospital is located in the Smithfield section of the City of London. The city’s two patron saints, Saint George and Saint Paul, are symbolized in dragon statues gazing from the corner of the street outside St. Bartholomew’s Hospital. It is one of the oldest sections of the city, the building itself having been founded in the year 1123, a half century after the Norman Conquest in 1066 at the Battle of Hastings. The point is, this is just about the oldest part of the modern world still standing, and that’s significant! How appropriate a destination for Holmes and Dr. Watson to meet – a reflection of Doyle’s veneration for his country perhaps.
The map displaying St. Bartholomew’s location from the Charles Booth Online Archive show a central section of old London, close to main boulevards and two large plazas (Charles Booth Online Archive, Google Maps Link). Banks were often located nearby this area, and are still today. The whole area now looks like the Museum of Natural History in Manhattan – white, stone faced buildings, four-stories tall, some with columns and others more modern. According to Doyle, the area looked similar then. Many of those buildings were built in the mid-1800s, and the area has looked aristocratic for a long time.