In a quiet corner of a typical English churchyard, lies a man who was definitely not typical. In fact, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, would probably have a few things to say about being buried here at all.
All Saints Church in Minstead is a quirky building, added to over the years so it now forms a T-shape, with two interior balconies and ante-chambers. But even this unusual layout wouldn’t have appeased Sir Arthur. As an avowed Spiritualist, he didn’t want to end up in a church graveyard. And this wasn’t where he was initially buried.
After he died in 1930, he was interred in the rose garden of his home, Windlesham. Allegedly he was buried standing up – but I can’t find any evidence to support that! His wife Jean was buried next to him in 1940, but after the house was sold out of the family they were both re-buried in All Saints Churchyard. They had a country home, Bignall Wood, in Minstead, so there is a connection for both of them to the place. Nevertheless, they apparently had to inter them as far from the church as possible due to Sir Arthur’s Spiritualist beliefs.
The older gravestones in the churchyard sit in tall waving grass, but Sir Arthur’s grave is easily found towards the back, underneath a tree, a pipe resting on top.
I must confess I’ve never actually read any of the Sherlock Holmes books although I’ve seen plenty of TV and film adaptations. But as a child, I listened repeatedly to “The Lost World” on tape, as it appealed to my adventurous side. Sir Arthurs impact as a writer can’t be overstated, even if he did come to dislike his most famous creation. His life was almost as interesting as his stories, with his involvement in the case of George Edalji, and the infamous Cottingley Fairies to name but two interesting events.
It’s worth visiting if you’re a fan, or just in the area. Plus the village is nestled in the beautiful New Forest, which is full of other great places to visit.
Have you visited Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s grave or anywhere else linked to him? Let me know or just leave a comment if you enjoyed this post!