The Hound of the Baskervilles in Oxfordshire?
9 July 2021 (Updated 7 September 2021)
The Hound of the Baskervilles is one of Arthur Conan Doyle's most famous Sherlock Holmes novels. While the inspiration for the events of the story has been closely linked to legends from Dartmoor where the story is set, some have suggested that there may also be an Oxfordshire connection.
The Conan Doyle connection
Conan Doyle's close friend James Lynam Molley married the daughter of one Henry Baskerville of Crowsley Park, Oxfordshire, a name shared with one of the principal characters in Conan Doyle's story.
The gate posts at Crowsley Park are topped with statues of two 'hell hounds' with spears through their throats, a grizzly and somewhat obscure motif that the Henley Stand suggests may carry or bestow some sort of curse! This hell hound motif is repeated above the main door at Crowsley Park House.
Henry Baskerville was for a time High Sherrif of Oxfordshire and earned himself a fearsome reputation. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that Crowsley Park is bordered to the North and West by a lane called Devil's Hill!
Supernatural hounds at Crowsley Park
During WWII Crowsley Park became home to the BBC Monitoring Service, the wing of the BBC dedicated to monitoring radio broadcasts from around the world. According to the Chilterns AONB website, during the war a radio operator stationed at the Park had a terrifying experience, hearing a supernatural pack of hounds bearing down on him at 2am.
The operator later learned of a local legend concerning an eloping couple being chased down across the park by a pack of hounds! Read the full story at chilternaonb.org.