In March 1901 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) author of the super
sleuth Sherlock Holmes, returned from South Africa where he had
contracted enteric fever. Doyle decided to recoup on the Norfolk coast
where he planned to rest and play some golf with his friend and
companion Bertram Fletcher Robinson. Robinson was a collector of local
stories and strange tales, over golf he regaled his friend with these
stories one of which was the chilling tale of 'Black Shuck' the Hell
Hound of Norfolk.
Doyle is said to have been so intrigued with this ghostly legend that it
inspired him to write one of his greatest mysteries the 'Hound of the
Baskervilles' (1902). So it was that during the evenings whilst Doyle
and Robinson were staying at the Royal Links Hotel in Cromer they
planned the outline for this new story.
According to legend one of Black Shucks tracks runs through today what
is Mill Lane past the then Royal Links Hotel over the hill into the
grounds of Cromer Hall. Doyle was acquainted with Lord Cromer and
visited him during his stay in Cromer.
The original Cromer Hall had been destroyed by fire and then rebuilt in
a Gothic style with heavily mullioned windows and towers, which at that
time of Doyle's visit were covered in ivy.
The description of Cromer Hall almost perfectly matches Doyle's
description of Baskerville Hall in his story. Robinson also had a
manservant called Henry Baskerville.
Unfortunately for Norfolk, Doyle then moved on to Dartmoor and decided
to use this as the setting for his Hound of the Baskervilles rather than
The Royal Links Hotel has long since gone, but Cromer Hall still stands
though it is not open to the public.
Doyle visited Norfolk on a number of occasions and even wrote another of
his Sherlock stories 'The Dancing Men' from a hotel in Happisburgh.
On this occasion Doyle did use 'Norfolk' as his setting for the story.
The monochrome photograph below was sent in by Alec a
regular norfolkcoast visitor, after he read our recent Newsletter. It
clearly shows the location of the hotel in relation to the Cromer
This coloured old post card picture shown below is of
the Royal Links Hotel, Cromer which was very kindly supplied by
The hotel was built in 1888 but was unfortunately destroyed by fire in
1949. A fantastic split level building with a promenade terrace
surrounding the building on the middle floor, and a tower in the eastern
The building sits comfortably into the side of the hill, with the main
entrance being on the middle floor.