A LINK between the Yorkshire Dales and fiction's most legendary detective, Sherlock Holmes, is to be celebrated at special theatrical event next month.

The commemoration of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's connection to the Ingleton area is being organised by Rosemary Hartley, church warden at St Oswald's, Thornton-in-Lonsdale, where the author married his first wife Louise Hawkins in 1885.

Conan Doyle's connection with the area began when his mother Mary moved into nearby Masongill Cottage where she lived for 35 years. And the St Oswald's event on June 17, which features a theatrical performance - The Singular Exploits of Sherlock Holmes - marks 100 years since she moved out of the cottage to go live with her daughter in East Grinstead.

Helping to promote the centenary commemoration is Holmes aficionado Martyn Sutton, who runs Uncle Jeremy's Household, an Ingleton gift shop.

Mr Sutton has spent recent years researching the area's links with Conan Doyle and his famous creation and has put forward a theory that the name Sherlock Holmes was inspired by the writer's visits to this area.

An early discovery was that in the same year he was married, the author had a short story – Uncle Jeremy’s Household – published in The Boy’s Own Paper. This was before Sherlock Holmes appeared, but the tale gave a strong hint of what was to come from Conan Doyle’s pen.

“The central character was a young medical student from Baker Street in London,” said Mr Sutton. “He arrives in Ingleton by train to be met by his friend John Thurston, a chemist with an acid-stained finger.

“The hero is called Hugh Lawrence, but the story is clearly a prototype for the Sherlock Holmes stories that followed, with a number of common features which would be refined and used again.”

Mr Sutton, who named his shop Uncle Jeremy’s Household after the story, also believes the legendary detective's first name was inspired by the Sherlock Window in the tower of St Mary's Parish Church, Ingleton.

The window was dedicated to the memory of the wealthy Liverpool newspaper proprietor, Randal Hopley Sherlock, who had been struck and killed by lightning at Ingleton Railway Station in 1875 while visiting his son Thomas, the vicar of St Mary’s Church.

Period fancy dress for the St Oswald's celebration is optional, but Mr Sutton is offering a cash prize of £100 for the best dressed character from a Sherlock Holmes plot.

l The Singular Exploits of Sherlock Holmes, starring Jonathan Goodwin, features the great detective recounting highlights of his crime-busting career. will be performed at St Oswald's Church at 7.30pm. Tickets at £10, including light refreshments, are available from Rosemary Hartley 015242 42207 or from Martyn Sutton at Uncle Jeremy’s Household in Ingleton Village Centre, unclejeremy.com