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Reason for inclusion: The residence of Colonel Barclay and the place of his death in the Crooked Man.
Accessibility: Approaching Aldershot from the north along the A325 after crossing the Basingstoke Canal, turn left towards Montgomery Lines and then taking the next major left hand turn into Queens Avenue (towards Queens Parade [Recreation Ground] and North Camp).
The original villa cannot be found as much of the Victorian camp was demolished in the 1960s. It is likely that Colonel Barclay’s villa in Queens Avenue would have overlooked the developments of the garrison on Queens Parade which is now a large housing development.
“The Crooked Man” is set in Aldershot. Whilst the story is a military one, the majority of the story takes place in Colonel Barclay’s villa, “Lachine” which is “about half a mile from the North Camp”. Very little research has been undertaken in determining where the villa might be situated. W.S. Baring-Gould in “The Annotated Sherlock Holmes Volume II” refers to Michael Harrison’s “in the Footsteps of Sherlock Holmes” : “ Colonel Barclay, then, lived to the east of Aldershot proper, beyond the Stanhope and the Wellington Lines, and most probably between the railway and the Blackwater River , in a district known as ‘North Town’”.
Following Aldershot’s establishment as a large permanent training camp in the 1850s, the military presence continued to grow. The garrison was divided into the North Camp and the South Camp, either side of the Basingstoke Canal. As more soldiers arrived, they were first housed in bell tents due to a shortage or permanent accommodation. Later, wooden huts were built, which were in turn replaced by brick built barracks in the 1890s. Much of the Victorian camp was demolished in the 1960s although the original officer’s mess survives.
The Society on its visit to Surrey and Hampshire in September 2010—”Surrey with a Fringe”, went to Queens Avenue to try and spot the Barclay residence.
The postcard gives a fair representation of what Queen’s Parade would have looked like in its heyday.
Contemporary illustrations donated to Aldershot library and reproduced with their kind permission.