Renowned star of stage and screen and the definitive Sherlock Holmes, the sale also features lots relating to his acting career and fan letters from his most notable admirer, H.R.H. King Charles III!
Douglas Wilmer was born in Brentford and educated at The King’s school, Canterbury and Stoneyhurst College before studying acting at RADA. Whilst there he was conscripted into the army and served in Africa during WWII before being invalid out with tuberculosis. The following decade was spent in repertory theatre groups in London and Stratford. where we worked alongside many of the great Classical actors and directors of the age including John Gielgud, Michael Redgrave, Sybil Thorndike, Noel Coward, Tyrone Guthrie and Lawrence Olivier.
From the mid-50s his career progressed to film. His early film roles included Cleopatra, El Cid, The Battle of the River Plate and The Fall of the Roman Empire. From 1964 he appeared on the BBC in a highly acclaimed series of productions of Sherlock Holmes novels. Douglas Wilmer played Holmes with Nigel Stock as Doctor Watson. Douglas’s nuanced portrayal of Holmes as a complex and conflicted character won accolades and became something of a standard approach: the Sherlock Holmes Society of London has called Douglas Wilmer their ‘Definitive Holmes’.
Wilmer was too fine an actor to be typecast and significant stage, T.V. and films roles continued throughout the 1960s and 70s including The Avengers, The Return of the Pink Panther, The Golden Voyages of Sinbad, and Octopussy.
In retirement Douglas settled in Woodbridge, Suffolk, where for a number of years he ran a popular wine bar, appropriately named ‘Sherlock’s’. In 2011 he was persuaded out of retirement by Mark Gatiss for a cameo guest appearance in an episode of BBC’s adaptation ‘Sherlock’.
The present collection comprising fine art, antiques and other items from Douglas Wilmer’s Woodbridge residence, including personal items relating to his highly successful acting career and his social circle of actors and including significant paintings by notable artist friends Angus McBean and Albert Houthuessen.
Our inaugural January 2024 specialist sale specifically for antique and vintage signage, including BBC Essex interview with our auctioneer Lewis Rabett.
In 2012, David Smith purchased School House in a remote Suffolk village and proceeded to convert the run-down Victorian red brick building into an airy modern living space.