Douglas Wilmer – Auction

News from Reeman Dansie, auctioneers & valuers of Colchester:


Featuring in the February Fine Art Sale are items from the Estate of our late Honorary Member, Douglas Wilmer, BSI (1920-2016)

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, the Prince of Wales – H.M. King Charles III, as he is now!

Douglas Wilmer was born in Brentford and educated at The King’s school, Canterbury and Stonyhurst College before studying acting at RADA. Whilst there he was conscripted into the army and served in Africa during WWII before being invalided 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 Laurence Olivier.

From the mid-50s his career progressed to film. His early films 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 based on the stories of Sherlock Holmes. Douglas Wilmer played Holmes, with Nigel Stock as Dr Watson. Douglas’s nuanced portrayal of Holmes as a complex and conflicted character won accolades and became something of a standard approach. In 1991 he was awarded Honorary Membership in the Sherlock Holmes Society of London, and in 2000 he was invested in the Baker Street Irregulars, as “The Lyceum Theatre”, BSI.

He was too fine an actor to be typecast; significant roles continued throughout the 1960s and 70s, on stage, T.V. and films, including The Avengers, The Return of the Pink Panther, The Golden Voyage 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 the BBC series Sherlock.

The present collection comprises 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 significant paintings by notable artist friends Angus McBean and Albert Houthuessen.

Douglas Wilmer’s effects will feature in the first two days of the sale: 12th and 13th February

For further information, see the auctioneers’ website at

Reeman Dansie,
No. 8 Wyncolls Road,
Severalls Business Park,
Colchester CO4 9HU

Telephone: 01206 754754
 +44 7741 641089

Open: Monday – Friday: 9am – 5pm. Saturday: 9am – 1pm


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