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Tartan My Dear Watson

Updated: Apr 6, 2020

Being Scottish I am very passionate about our great country, history, language, pipe music and of course tartan. Did you know Sherlock's elementary roots have inspired a new tartan? Excited to share with you - Sherlock Holmes Tartan.

Tartan My Dear Watson

What is Tartan

Tartan is a pattern consisting of criss-crossed horizontal and vertical bands in multiple colours. Originally woven wool, the clans people would use local plants, mosses and berries to dye it. Now it can be found across a wide range of materials. Mostly found in Scotland and seen on the famously known tartan kilts.

Tartan History

The first mention of tartan was in 1538. Originally introduced in the Scottish Highlands, with each clan having a different design. Today there are over 500 clans and family associations registered around the world. Did you know there are over 4,000 tartan designs registered but only 500 have ever been woven? In 1746 the Dress Act was enforced making wearing tartan illegal in Scotland. This was until in 1782 when tartan became very fashionable.

About Sherlock Holmes Tartan

Tania Henzell the step, great, great, granddaughter of the celebrated Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has designed the Sherlock Holmes Tartan.

Sherlock Holmes, the famous fictional detective was created by the acclaimed Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who was born in Edinburgh and gained his medical degree from the University of Edinburgh. Tania is a Conan Doyle descendant who lives and works in Edinburgh, and has highlighted Conan Doyle’s Scottish links through the creation of a uniquely Scottish textile for his most famous character.

The first literary character to have his own tartan is predominately green and blue – reflecting both Conan Doyle’s strong Irish and Scottish heritage – highlighted by a lighter blue line to represent the Reichenbach Falls and a yellow line to represent the deductive clarity of Sherlock. As part of the criteria, The Scottish Register of Tartans needed to know the reasoning behind Tania’s creation before registering it as the Sherlock Holmes Tartan.

Tania worked closely with the weavers from the House of Edgar, and knowing what the main colours should be, it didn't take long before Tania had chosen the muted colours to represent both Sherlock and Conan Doyle, and to finalise the design before having it registered.

Commenting on the journey, Tania said “The Tartan has great design appeal, and it was a fascinating experience to come up with a pattern that reflects who Conan Doyle was as well as tying in elements that are entirely Sherlock. “I have a background in fashion design and have been thrilled to use my knowledge to design a unique family tartan”.

Tania was very fond of her step great grandmother Jean, who was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's youngest daughter. Jean married Sir Geoffrey Bromet, who was Tania's great grandfather and they lived happily in Kent. Tania has many happy memories spending time with Jean after Geoffrey died, either at the Ascot races or going to the theatre in London. Jean has always been an inspiration for Tania given the close connection to the great author.

Sherlock Holmes has a very distinctive style, which owes much to earlier cinema portrayals. Actor Basil Rathbone is often considered the quintessential Holmes, playing the detective in a string of classic movies, starting with the Hound of the Baskervilles in 1939 and continuing throughout the 1940's. The deerstalker cap and Inverness cape became so iconic of Holmes that even television’s most recent interpretation of the character, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, (also a distant relative of Tania’s!) makes ironic reference to the headwear.

Sherlock Holmes Tartan Products

The new tartan is quite versatile and is not only being used for deerstalkers and capes but ties, hip flasks, cummerbunds (a broad waist sash), handbags, scarves waistcoats and trews (a traditional form of men's tartan trousers) all being produced in the new wool fabric. It is perfect for sleuthing (investigating) on the moors, uncovering grisly deeds in stately homes or whiling away an evening in a Baker Street apartment.

Sherlock Holmes Tartan products and the new tweed are available from the website:

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