Please Help Save Undershaw

Please Save Undershaw

Undershaw is the former residence of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the great mind and author behind Sherlock Holmes novels. Undershaw has been left abandoned and vandalised and the Waverley Borough Council’s decided to develop Undershaw into town houses instead of making it a historical site. Please do whatever you can to help Save Undershaw.  Even though many of you may not live in England spreading the word about this helps the cause greatly.

Undershaw in 1897 with Mary and Kingsley in the driveway

History of Undershaw:

“Here he wrote ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ and ‘The Return of Sherlock Holmes’ and entertained many notable people, including Bram Stoker, the author of ‘Dracula’, J M Barrie, the creator of ‘Peter Pan’, and the young Virginia Wolfe.

‘Undershaw’ was built by Conan Doyle so that his invalid wife Louise, who was suffering from tuberculosis, could benefit from Hindhead’s healthy microclimate and glorious views down the Nutcombe Valley to the South Downs. Nestling in its three acre plot, Doyle himself drafted the first designs of the house, before passing them on to architect and friend Joseph Henry Ball to complete. Doyle had many inspired ideas for his family’s new home, especially the installation of an electric plant (somewhat a rarity in those days) and a magnificent railway in the grounds that proved a constant joy to his children.

Undershaw’s location added a few more years to Louise’s life, but she eventually died in 1906 and is buried in Grayshott churchyard, later being joined by her daughter Mary, who died unmarried in the 1970s, and son Kingsley, who died in the 1918 flu pandemic after surviving his wartime duties as a young doctor.

After Louise’s death, Conan Doyle wanted to keep Undershaw for his son. But once Kingsley had also died, he saw no reason to hold on to the house and sold it in 1921 for £4,000 …. a considerable loss on the original £10,000 cost of the building and land. From 1924 the house became a hotel, closing its doors in 2004 when Des Moore/ Neil Caffrey of Fossway Ltd purchased the building for development.”

The Vision of Undershaw:

The preferred vision of the Undershaw Preservation Trust is to restore, in period style, the house,

Undershaw photographed in the early 20th century

stable, well and grounds ….. all of which have survived 113 years. Trees could be thinned to open up views from the garden down the Nutcombe Valley to the South Downs and, with permission, a bronze statue of Sherlock Holmes (or Conan Doyle) could be appropriately placed at the Hindhead crossroads. Undershaw could become a self supporting Sherlock Holmes/Conan Doyle Museum (with refreshment area for visitors) and exhibits could be in conjunction with the Portsmouth Museum’s 50,000 item Doyle collection of John Gibson’s late friend, Richard Lancelyn Green. The Museum could then become part of a Conan Doyle tour, including visits to his London connections, Portsmouth Museum and his grave in the New Forest’s Minstead Chruchyard.”

Undershaw today as it stands sorrowfully neglected

What you can do to help:

“Anyone feeling strongly about this matter should make their representations known to: Mary Orton, the Chief Executive of Waverley Borough Council or Matthew Evans the Chief Planning Officer of Waverley Borough Council, Council Offices, The Burys, Godalming, Surrey, GU7 1HR.  Ask them to use their best endeavours however onerous,  to rectify the situation to save Undershaw for the Waverley area, and the nation as a single dwelling house so that options are left open for future use of the house as a small country hotel or even more desirably, a museum and cafeteria. Like the houses of Jane Austen at Chawton, Gilbert White at Selborne, Winston Churchill’s at Westerham and Kipling’s Bateman’s at East Sussex future generations can enjoy Doyle’s literary heritage. (Note: When writing your representations to the Council please ask for an acknowledgement and send further reminders if they are not forthcoming).

You can also help by giving the campaign as much publicity as possible through Facebook and Twitter and directing people to this site or our Facebook page.

Whatever way you choose to support the campaign we thank you for your valuable help.”

Support The Undershaw Preservation Trust by visiting their websites:

Their Facebook Page

Twitter @spiritangel04

Watch their Video on Vimeo

[Thanks to my friend @MarcUpdates for letting me know about this]

One Comment

  1. Thank you for spreading the word of our endeavours. History could be in the making here should the house successfully be saved. You are part of that history and hopefully many more will follow in the same way after reading this article.

    Undershaw is an iconic and internationally known building. It should be saved for the nation for future generations and become a national landmark of Great Britain.


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