Thursday, 26 November 2009

Pavilion Not Enough for Conan Doyle

I wrote to the Editor of the Haslemere Herald and the following was published today:

"I write in response to the article in the Herald three weeks ago concerning the inclusion of a pavilion in the grounds of Undershaw to honour the history of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Surely he is worth more recognition than a basic structure housing a board giving visitors a brief outline of his connection with Hindhead. This will not compensate for the loss of a landmark that has been with us since 1897.

The Undershaw Preservation Trust are mortified to think that Waverley Borough Council are likely to support this move which may possibly be included in the developers plans, a move that I feel should be seriously re-considered.

It appears that Undershaw has been nothing but a burden to Waverley. If the developers had looked after the building in the first place - all the repairs that needed to be complied with would not have caused Waverley this aggro in the first place. Please let the people who care about the building have their say and give the Trust a chance.

It's about time Waverley sat up and listened to what most of the locals would like to see and to what the Trust has to offer. Does Hindhead really want another housing complex when there are others being erected within walking distance from Undershaw?

I would also like to say that I fully support the letter written by Mr John Gibson, FRICS, who has set up and registered the Undershaw Preservation Trust. The Trust's aims are to prevent Undershaw from being converted into separate units, but for the house to remain as one. The Trust would also like to see the inclusion of a museum and cafeteria within the building with public access retained.

May I also take this opportunity of thanking all those who have taken their time to write to this section of the Herald in support of Conan Doyle and his home Undershaw

Lynn Gale, Undershaw Preservation Trust

You too can have your say in response to this article by writing to: 114/115 West Street, Farnham, Surrey, GU9 7HL or e-mail at: e-mails must show full postal address.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Roger Straughan's Book

I have tonight received an e-mail from Dr Roger Straughan who is offering his book at a special rate of £10.00 for a signed copy for which he will make a contribution to the campaign. Roger is kindly pledging £50.00 as an initial contribution from his book sales. Roger's book 'A Study in Survival: Conan Doyle Solves the Final Problem' is out now and you can order his book by e-mailing You can read more about his book in the post entitled Conan Doyle's Recent Messages.

If you want to help the cause then by buying Roger's latest book you will be contributing to the campaign.

Roger will be signing copies of his book at Borders on Saturday 28th November.

No Light at the end of the Tunnel

Not a good day today. Spoke with Helen from Balfour Beatty yesterday and although they are very willing to help, it was plainly clear that they are unable to make an injection of funds or indeed be our sponsors. All the same I am very grateful to them for at least responding to my letter that I wrote to Ian Tyler their Chief Executive. Helen will be in further contact with me over the next couple of days but does not hold out much hope of being any help.

Balfour Beatty are the major construction company for the tunnel being built at Hindhead. The incredible work that has gone into this massive project will no doubt go down in the history books as being truly remarkable. The viewing platform just yards from Undershaw provides the most breathtaking views of the work that has and is being carried out. Whilst there's light at the end of the tunnel for this project, we need to work harder towards seeing the light for Undershaw!

As a consequence of this, I am feeling quite despondent today as the campaign to save Undershaw now moves into almost a year and still we are no further forward. We have made people more aware of our cause, that I am sure, and it maybe plainly obvious that the public are now fed up with listening to my constant support for Conan Doyle and Undershaw. There will come a time when I will have to begrudgenly give up the fight and allow the developers to commit this terrible crime to Undershaw unless I receive your help and your responses.

I have had four pledges now of £25.00 - this will hardly save Undershaw. This doesn't mean that I am not grateful, of course I am more than grateful to those people that have pledged and contributed in some way and of course those that are following this blog. They have been a terrific boost but we cannot rely on these people alone.

I understood that there are many enthusiasts out there that would like to see us save the building, but according to the response that I have had to this blog and the campaign in general it appears that nobody really cares. The Trust will not survive on its funds alone as we would have to purchase, restore and preserve. Over 300 people have signed the on-line petition (incidently I have over 1000 signatures with another petition that I have been running) and not one has made a pledge or has come forward offering their help. I have sent e-mails to some of these with the details of my blog and sadly there has been no response. One must feel they are silently telling me something. We urgently need your help if Undershaw is to survive the New Year.

If this is the response we are having now, what sort of interest would we have if we did save Undershaw? It really dosn't look very promising does it! Tomorrow is another day and it could be a brighter one.

If the Trust is going to be successful and Undershaw saved we need your help NOW! Please respond and make the impossible possible.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Update News on the TV Documentary

I have recently been in contact with Claire Whalley who has been waiting for a reply from two different commissioning editors and BBC 4. Claire is aware that BBC budgets have been frozen which might explain the silence.

Claire is remaining quite optimistic about the idea - she will endeavour to contact them again and hopes to be the bearer of good news.

There have been several articles that have appeared on the TV recently about Conan Doyle and we had hoped that we could get something approved before the end of the year so that it would coincide with the 150th anniversary of his birth date. Claire believes that if she can film where the action is taking place especially when decisions for Undershaw are actually being made by the Councillors providing permission is granted by Waverley to film during this time then this would make the documentary an interesting venture. Of course the history of Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes and his life at Undershaw would be included as well as the supporters efforts to try and save the building. Surely this cannot fail! Any thoughts?

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Dr Watson may yet save Undershaw

In response to Mr Gibson's letter in last week's Haslemere Herald the following letter was printed in this weeks copy, sent by a reader in Selborne:

"What a pleasant surprise it was to see the letter from John H Watson, MD, 221B Baker Street, London, W1, in the letters page of the November 13 edition of the Haslemere Herald.

Dr Watson spoke up most eloquently for Mr Sherlock Holmes, who was too absorbed in attending to the health of his bee colonies at that time to notice the decision of the National Trust and the caretakers of his country retreat, to make Undershaw available to anyone at all for monetary profit, while announcing, on a distant display board, that he is its rightful, as you might say, incumbent!

This arrangement seems totally ludicrous to any discerning person and I fervently hope that Dr Watson will be able to convince Mr Holmes of the urgency of the situation and encourage him to take steps to protect his assests before this dreadful calumny can be perpetrated.

With regards from a concerned member of the public and follower of the marvellous exploits of Mr Sherlock Holmes".

Friday, 20 November 2009

Sherlock would have been appalled

A letter in the Haslemere Herald last week from Mr John Gibson read:

"It is doubtful whether Mr Sherlock Holmes will have seen the article on the front page of your last issue (as he is bee-keeping in East Sussex and the blight that has recently endangered his hives), recording the singular decision of the owners of Undershaw and the National Trust on a proposed 'display board' some distance from the house detailing its history, whilst the house itself is converted into residential units. Therefore as a humble chronicler of some of his cases you will perhaps allow me to express my utmost indignation at this ludicrous proposal to treat the home of the literary agent of my writings in such a manner.

Three years ago the planning committe of Waverley Borough Council unanimously turned down an application to convert the house into separate units; why, therefore have officers of the council continued to discuss with the owner's architect just such proposals again against the previous decision? The original house is only 7,500 sq ft and renovated would, at the correct price, be a very saleable unit, and far cheaper than the verticle division into separate units. The literary agent's stable - still existing with the stalls as built, should remain untouched - he kept his horse 'Brigadier' and rode to hounds from here.

The owners of this house have in the last four-and-a-half years presided over the dereliction of this property with lead stripped from the roof, broken heraldic window etc. A Repair Notice was served on this property over a year ago - the lead has not been renewed and the heraldic window remains broken.

I also understand that there is now nobody in attendance at the property during weekday daylight hours.

The local authority argues that plans are being prepared - but only to permanently divide the house into separate units, and consequently bar public access, a scheme already rejected by the planning committee. Parking is severely restricted on this site, due to the sloping terrain, and the less units there are the better in this regard.

Would the National Trust houses of Winston Churchill (Chartwell) and Kipling's (Bateman's) or even Jane Austen's house at Chawton be considered suitable for conversion to apartments and with a 'display board' at some distance to explain the history? I do not think so. Undershaw is one of the major literary houses of Surrey and essential for Hindhead's regeneration and the local tourist industry.

The omniscience of Sherlock's brother, Mycroft, has so far failed at the highest level, although I hold out hope for some funds from the Heritage Lottery Fund (Compton Gallery received £4.3 M)

Mr Gibson, who is not without some funds in his Trust, assures me, that as a very firm believer in an open democracy, he would be pleased to debate, particulary with the principle players, exclusively in the correspondence columns of this newspaper, any of the above-mentioned points on this heritage matter.

I trust that second and better thoughts may prevail, and in the meantime subscribe myself,
Your humble but indignant servant, John H Watson M.D; 221B Baker Street, London, W1.

As discussed and dictated to:
Mr J M Gibson, FRICS, Director, Undershaw Preservation Trust
Note: Should you wish to write something in support of Undershaw to the 'Editors Letter's' section of the Haslemere Herald, this would show immense support to our cause, you can write to the Editor by post to: 114/115 West Street, Farnham, Surrey, GU9 7HL or e-mail to: e-mails must contain full postal address.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

My Thanks to Griff Rhys Jones

I would like to thank Griff Rhys Jones for his following comments in support of Undershaw:

"I can certainly add my voice to the list of those concerned about Undershaw. I wish I could be a more active patron and the building's saviour ....but, as you can image, I get hundreds of requests and all I can do for most of them is to add my small bleating voice".

Griff is best known for presenting the programme 'Restoration' which ran for three series.

Undershaw Preservation Trust - Our Special Thanks

Our special thanks to the 3 supporters that have pledged £25.00 each to save Undershaw. We will be in touch with you once we see what other pledges are offered and whether there is support out there for the Trust. Please remember it is only a PLEDGE at this stage, money does not exchange hands - you have nothing to lose by making a pledge. If every enthusiast for Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes pledged £25.00 each it would give us the ammunition that is required to purchase the building and give the supporters of Undershaw what they want - a museum housing a coffee and gift shop with a possible conference area an historical monument in tribute to one of the greatest men that has ever lived.

Please don't let this happen, only you can prevent this - the property shown here is Expedier House which is not a listed building but just yards from Undershaw. It was once the home of the British Car Auctions and is now being re-developed for affordable housing. The Undershaw Preservation Trust will help to save Undershaw - please help us to make this possible.

We do have some funds in the Trust which John Gibson has contributed, unfortunately not enough to realise our dream - our dream is to enable enthusiasts worldwide to be able to meet up at this landmark of outstanding beauty, cloaked in so much history, share cream teas on the terrace, chat about days gone by and walk where Sir Arthur himself once walked whilst marvelling the beauty of its surroundings. You have got to see the landscape for yourselves to believe the pure beauty of the area. This is a very sacred place to us all, please do not allow this house to be split up and transformed into apartments - do something now! This final picture is the view from the terrace of Undershaw - lets all meet up there one day and toast the work of the great Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

To make a pledge check out the information contained in the section 'The Undershaw Preservation Trust'. If you want to know more details of what you can do to help save Undershaw than e-mail me at

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

My Thanks to Uri Geller

Uri Geller very kindly agreed to post a comment on this blog. You can read his comment under 'A Brief History'. I am extremely grateful for his words of support for which I thank him. I look forward to further comments from anyone wishing to express their desire to join me in making what we could call 'history' by saving an historical monument.

Please visit Uri's website: or follow him on twitter: gelleruri

Monday, 16 November 2009

The Long Journey

It has been a long and tiresome journey for which one cannot be sure of the outcome. It has certainly come with its fair share of ups and downs and when you think you have made headway then another obstacle will appear and another one to overcome. Will there ever be light at the end of the tunnel? Sometimes it has felt that I have been battling to save this empty old house entirely on my own but I know that is not true and that there are several faithful supporters that have helped me keep sane .

I have met many people since starting this venture and have written to many companies, organisations, individuals, celebrities and royalty to raise awareness of our plight and to ascertain whether there is a possible alternative to the modern apartments that the developers wish to build. Our hopes for a museum, coffee and gift shop will not dwindle all the time I receive messages of support giving me the incentive to battle on. Should all else fail we will fight to prevent the house from being divided into flats and for it to remain as one house.

Most of the replies that I have received have been suggestions and other contacts, and with me being me, I have continuously followed up on all these which has led me to writing hoards more letters and e-mails.

I have alerted SAVE Britain's Heritage, an organisation recommended by the office of the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall. SAVE have recently replied to my e-mail which comes with a small glimmer of hope. Local MP Jeremy Hunt has very kindly backed up my nomination to register Undershaw with SAVE showing his support to the campaign. For more information on SAVE, please visit their website Since writing this post SAVE have declined to help the Trust which has been a bitter disappointment especially after being recommended by the office of HRH Prince Charles and backed by Jeremy Hunt MP, Shadow Culture Minister.

It has almost been a year since I involved myself with Conan Doyle's house. Within this time we have organised two open days at Undershaw to raise awareness amongst the locals. We made contact with Richard Doyle (Conan Doyle's great nephew) who very kindly came along to show his support in respect of all supporters worldwide. Meridian Tonight News filmed part of the day and interviewed Richard Doyle and Sally Morgan. Unfortunately to my utmost disappointment the footage was shelved and never went out on local TV. This may have been a turning point should we have been successful with an article on the local news. Any ideas of how we could persuade Meridian News to broadcast this?

Thursday, 12 November 2009

How It All Began - The Dream

I recall several months earlier at the end of 2008, and indeed before photographing Undershaw, a very vivid dream. I dreamt that I was a photographer taking shots of a Victorian family of five stood in a doorway of an old house. I was using one of the old fashioned cameras with a black covering and a big flash light. It felt all so real and caused me to query who this family was which left me wondering whether the dream was indeed that of my ancestors. I made an effort to mentally record the occurrence as I felt that it was going to prove significant in the days or months to come.

The dream was partially correct in the fact that several months later I stood in front of Undershaw taking photographs but where and who were the family? On purchasing one of Conan Doyle's books and on opening the pages I starred directly at a family that I had seen before! Was this indeed the family that I had dreamt about? Was somebody trying to tell me something.

The picture to the left is how I saw the family in my dream minus the house and the front door. This was also the picture that starred at me from the book. The picture to the right is the front door at Undershaw and identical to that in my dream which was taken after the occurrence.

On the 22 May 2009 the organisation that I work for were organising an Arthur Conan Doyle Conference to mark the 150th anniversary of Conan Doyle's birth date. I was invited to put together a visual display of Undershaw. I was thrilled to have been asked but at the same time concerned as to the lack of knowledge I had of Undershaw and indeed Conan Doyle. I knew that research was the key - this led me to the Portsmouth Guildhall to visit the Doyle Room storing a collection of Conan Doyle artifacts that were bequeathed to the Portsmouth Museum by Richard Lancelyn Green for whom Stephen Fry is the Patron. ..................................................the story continues.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes

Imagine it's the year that Guy Ritchie's new film Sherlock Holmes is released, and there is an announcement that Undershaw, the former home of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has been saved from the property developers by an unknown sponsor or source, the house formerly destined to become residential dwellings has had a reprieve. By some strange coincidence this has all happened in the 150th anniversary year of Conan Doyle's birthdate. What an amazing year 2009 would be! The release of a new film and Conan Doyle's former home purchased, restored and preserved with public access retained.

How It All Began - Why I Became So Involved

It all began one day back in March of this year whilst driving out armed with my camera and wondered where I should go to take a few snap shots. It was whilst I was driving past Undershaw that something seemed to tell me, in a curious sort of way, to photograph the old house.

I noticed then for the first time since its closure in 2004 the board advertising its 'sale' or 'let' with Lambert, Hampton and Butler, a Guildford based estate agent. My lack of observation of this board over the last 5 years is quite shameful and now with it starring me in the face helped me make a decision, one that has lasted almost a year - if only I knew then of the controversy that this building had produced over the years and the efforts that have gone into saving its historical value is painfully obvious after viewing various internet sites.

I wasn't expecting to see what was waiting behind the mass of trees as I walked down the curvy driveway. There, below scaffolding and a protective roof stood Undershaw the historical home of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a much respected gentleman of the neighbourhood, a man of history! It was so apparently obvious that before the protective cover was erected, the house had been left to weather the elements which caused it to become the dilapitated crumbling building that it is today. I had strong feelings that I wanted desperately to save it and return the charm, character and elegance to the house that was so very apparent all those years ago.

Save it! How am I honestly going to achieve such a remarkable, insane feat? Was I this crazy mad woman that wanted to beat the property developers and show the world that if you wanted something so badly, and if you work hard at what you believe, you can achieve almost anything. The story will continue ...................................

Monday, 9 November 2009

The Views

Undershaw is built on a 4 acre plot surrounded by National Trust land of outstanding beauty looking down onto the Nutcombe Valley with the South Downs in the distance.

These views must not be allowed to be erased from the public eye.

Sally Morgan Visits Undershaw

Friday 22nd May 2009 marked the 150th anniversary of the birth of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. On Thursday 21st May the house came alive again, albeit for a brief time, as it's doors were thrown open to a variety of supporters and to the media.

The pictures show Sally Morgan and Richard Doyle on the terrace of Undershaw discussing the book written by Georgina Doyle.

Journalists, broadcasters and fans of Conan Doyle converged on the crumbling property to help publicise an urgent appeal for funds needed to save a significant piece of literary heritage from the threat of property developers seeking to turn it into flats.

In response to a recent article, medium Sally Morgan made a specially scheduled visit to Undershaw to pledge her support for the fundraising campaign.

She spoke with journalists about her reasons for wanting to help save the historic property, saying that Undershaw and its breathtaking views should be saved for future generations, so that they could enjoy its atmosphere and the whole experience of Conan Doyle.

Just one day before the event, I managed to locate and contact Richard Doyle, great nephew of Sir Arthur. Poignantly, he made a last minute dash along the motorway to be there in time to pledge his support. He brought along a book entitled 'Out of the Shadows' written by Georgina Doyle, widow of Brigadier John Reinhold Innis Doyle, Richard's father. He and Sally discussed it at length, comparing the phtotographs within the book to the house as it stands today.

I received an e-mail from Richard Doyle, in which he wrote: "I believe we should respect the wishes of the local community, and I support the appeal to save Undershaw for the benefit of all".

Sally Morgan described her visit to Undershaw as "most exciting", but at the same time 'tinged with sadness to see how a once great house has fallen into such disrepair. She claimed she was able to sense the presence of a lady who would most definitely like to see the house retained as a single property, rather than being split up. "I knew Conan Doyle was looking down", Sally said. "What more could anyone ask?"
The day was magical. There was something in the air that gave it a very special feeling.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

The Murder-Mystery Event - Awareness Day

A murder mystery evening was held at the Devil's Punchbowl Hotel, Hindhead at the end of August to raise awareness of the need to save Undershaw, the former home of Spiritualist and author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

The evening was attended by over 70 guests, including the actress Julie T Wallace who starred alongside Patricia Hodge and Dennis Waterman in the 1986 hit drama 'The Life and Loves of She Devil'. Another attendee was Roger Straughan author of 'A Study in Survival: Conan Doyle Solves the Final Problem', which is published this month. Roger is donating a percentage of its proceeds to the cause. Roger is pictured here in the middle of the above photograph acting out his role as Oscar, he has pointed out that he does not make a habit of wearing this type of attire.

Performers from the Sherlock Holmes Society in Cambridge put on a superb performance and kept us all intrigued to the very last with a true 'Whodunit'. With the Devil's Punchbowl Hotel being contemporary with Undershaw, it was a perfect setting and atmosphere for the event.
The medium Lynn Rose was our guest for the evening and she carried out numerous accurate readings for attendees.

Latest News - Pavilion for Undershaw

Reported in the local newspaper, the Herald this week was the news that the owners of Undershaw, the former home of Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, have offered to include "an element" of a visitor centre in its plans for the Grade II-listed building.

A worldwide appeal for help to save the author's former Hindhead home as a centre for fans of Sherlock Holms has failed to generate any viable schemes so far.

But following pressure from Hindhead Together - a community partnership formed to oversee the ongoing regeneration of the Hindhead area - owners Fossway, have agreed to incorporate a 'pavilion' for visitors within plans to convert the house into residential units. Developer Michael Wilson has told Hindhead Together of plans to build an open sided pavilion accessible to the public within the grounds. This would provide visitors with views of Undershaw, and could contain a permanent display board telling the history of the house and Conan Doyle.

This is a very clever move by the developer, and if a sponsor is not found in the forseeible future it is a plan that we may have to accept. Planning applications have yet to be submitted to Waverley Borough Council for the most recent project, and, until they are, there is no guarantee of their content. It is anticipated that such an application would be likely within the next couple of months.

Welcome to Undershaw - A Crazy State of Repair

Welcome to Undershaw, the former home of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes.

I will take you on a short tour of the house as it stands today, sorrowfully empty and in need of restoration and rescued from the property developers.

The following photographs show the hallway, the famous stained glass windows and Conan Doyle's bedroom.

TV Documentary

Since starting the campaign I have had many words of support and encouragement but also my fair share of disapproval - 'get rid', 'pull it down', 'where's the money coming from' and 'you're wasting your time'. Despite all of this I am still battling and believe me it is an uphill struggle. I have a passion for history and immense gratitude for all those people that have made history, Conan Doyle certainly played a very important part in making his mark in the history books, worthy of lasting recognition.

I have had several suggestions made to me and one that really stood out was 'GO NATIONAL WITH A TV DOCUMENTARY'. I have followed up many suggestions but this one was the biggy - where does one start. I pondered with this for several weeks and put it to one side and not really gave it any thought.

It then occured to me this could be the key and where would this lead me. I contacted a friend who happened to know of a freelance TV producer by the name of Claire Whalley. After exchanging correspondence with Claire I soon learnt that she was actually quite interested in the idea and thought that a documentary on the history of Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes, Undershaw and the supporter's efforts to save it would be quite fascinating. Latest news from Claire is that she has approached two different commissioning editors and will try BBC 4 in the coming week. We await the outcome.

Update on More Recent Messages from the Man who Created Sherlock Holmes

I have met Roger Straughan on numerous occasions now because of our interests in Arthur Conan Doyle. Roger periodocally updates me on the messages he receives in connection with Undershaw and more recently has informed me that he tried for a message specifically for the Undershaw campaign a couple of days ago. He said: What did I read? 'Long may it be before we lose the fighting blood which has come to us of old!' (Through the Magic Door, p.97). Words of encouragement for your efforts, I felt!

Roger went on to say: After a disappointing evening at the College of Psychic Studies on the 9 September 2009 this message of encouragement was received from ACD. We were not alone in our opinion of the evening, you'll be pleased to hear! On getting back home, I couldn't resist seeking a comment from the man himself. In a book I've hardly ever used before, I immediately read: 'There was a good deal of disappointment about it one way and another. It was felt that he was not acting up to his role. It was a waste of opportunity.' (A Mixed Grill, p154).

And more to come! Just before recording this, I asked if there were any further words of encouragement for you regarding Undershaw. I then read: 'We build from below, brick upon brick. There is the building which will last.' (The Wanderings of a Spiritualist, p.162). Interesting - sounds like some rebuilding is envisaged!

It would appear that Sir Arthur is taking a keen interest in the current situation regarding Undershaw. Let us hope that he will approve of the outcome, whatever the 'vista of unknown country' turns out to be!

Roger Straughan

Friday, 6 November 2009

The Undershaw Preservation Trust

Check out the Undershaw Preservation Trust

The Undershaw Preservation Trust has been set up by Mr John Gibson FRICS, Conan Doyle enthusiast and expert. He has appointed Sue Meadows and myself as Trustees. The Trust has been registered as a Museum/Cafeteria with the authorities. Should you wish to contact John to learn more about his ideas for Undershaw and his feeling towards the development plans, you can contact him on 01372 453147. John is very passionate about saving the building and has called himself 'The Guardian Angel of Undershaw'. When you talk with John you will soon learn what an expert he is on this great man and indeed of Undershaw.

If you would like to pledge a donation to the Trust please send your details, name, address, e-mail address and telephone number to: At this stage it is only a pledge. No money will exchange hands. We will contact you should our plans for Undershaw become viable. To make our plans viable it will be down to how much support we actually receive in the way of donation pledges. This I believe is our last ditched attempt at raising awareness and rallying support. Help me make history and lets save Undershaw together. Together we can achieve anything, together we can achieve this dream for enthusiasts everywhere. Let Hindhead keep a landmark that has been with us since 1897.

John Gibson, FRICS conducting a showround at Undershaw at the end of August when we opened it to the public to raise awareness. Two of the photo's were taken on the terrace and the third was taken in one of the top floor bedrooms where it is apparent that water has poured in through the roof causing intensive damage.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Petition to save Undershaw - please sign

Show your support and help us save Undershaw by signing the petition at the link shown.


Conan Doyle's Recent Messages

Since his death in 1930 there have been many reports of apparent messages from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the best-known being those received by Grace Cooke, which led to the founding of White Eagle Lodge shown here on the right.

A more recent series of communications, continuing up to the present day, is the subject of my forthcoming book, A Study in Survival; Conan Doyle Solves the Final Problem, to be published by O Books this month (November) (for further details see A percentage of the proceeds will be donated to the Undershaw Preservation Trust. The simple method of communication used, fully described in the book, involves completely random, ‘blind’ readings from Conan Doyle’s own books, of which I now have a large collection. These readings have over fifteen years produced a large number of astonishingly apt and relevant comments on a wide range of subjects in which Sir Arthur might be expected to have an interest.

On hearing of the Undershaw appeal and being invited to attend its the open day on May 21st, I wondered if any comments might be forthcoming from the house’s first owner. My first attempt that very evening produced the phrase, ‘Under the stained glass windows.’ That afternoon I had stood in the derelict hallway of Undershaw, gazing up at the stained glass windows which Conan Doyle had commissioned for his new house, showing the coats of arms of various branches of his family.

On the following day at the White Eagle Lodge conference to mark the 150th anniversary of Conan Doyle’s birth, I gave a talk on the messages and was asked at the end to demonstrate the method of communication, using a copy of Thy Kingdom Come (the first account of the Grace Cooke sittings) which was thrust unexpectedly into my hands. The first words I read were ‘He proved his method,’ followed by ‘A splendid window opening to a vista of unknown country there.’ The most stunning feature of Undershaw is a superb bow-fronted window in the main upper bedroom with a breathtaking view of the overgrown garden and distant hills.

On returning home and seeking another comment on Undershaw, the theme of windows was again repeated – in a completely different book: ‘The high thin window of old stained glass …the coats of arms upon the walls.’ A little later (at Lynn’s request) I tried again, and immediately read of a 'household in the heart of Surrey'. The passage continued: 'I drove to the place .... The house was a fair-sized one, standing back from the road, with a curving drive which was backed with high evergreen shrubs. It was an old, tumble-down building in a crazy state of repair. The trap pulled up in front of the blotched and weather-stained door.' A perfect description of Undershaw in its present ‘crazy state of repair’!

Roger Straughan

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

A Brief History

Sir ArthurConan Doyle bought the plot of land after his wife Louisa was diagnosed with tuberculosis. He thought Hindhead would be a good place for her to rest because of its healthy micro-climate in the South Downs.

It is thought that the author drew up the plans himself, before asking his friend Joseph Henry Ball, an architect, to finalise the design.

Conan Doyle and his wife lived there for 10 years until she died and he remarried. He wrote The Hound of the Baskervilles there in 1902 and resurrected Sherlock Holmes in 1904.

Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula, interviewed Conan Doyle at Undershaw. Afterwards he said: "It is so sheltered from cold winds that the architect felt justified in having lots of windows, so that the whole place is full of light. The picture on the right is where Bram Stoker interviewed Conan Doyle.

"Nevertheless, it is cosy and snug to a remarkable degree and has everywhere that sense of 'home' which is so delightful to occupant and stranger alike."

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Undershaw Needs You!

I am looking for someone who has survived the credit crunch, a thriving company, football team, celebrity or individual that will help the Undershaw Preservation Trust save Conan Doyle's historical house Undershaw from the property developers who want to build modern apartments on the site of outstanding beauty. The Trust would like to see Undershaw opened as a Museum and Cafeteria welcoming visitors worldwide.

Undershaw is situated in a 4 acre area surrounded by National Trust land in Hindhead, Surrey. There are several new housing estates being constructed within just walking distance from Undershaw and we really do not want another residential complex in the area. The house must remain as one and not be split up into flats - this will take away the character of the property and the beauty of its past.

If there is anyone out there that would like to own the house with the view to throwing it open on certain days of the year or someone to pledge a generous donation to help the Undershaw Preservation Trust then I urge you to get in touch. For further history of the house and Conan Doyle, please contact John Gibson, the Trust's director on 01372 453147. Only genuine interested parties please.

Undershaw is a grade II listed building where Conan Doyle wrote the return of Sherlock Holmes and his most famous novel 'The Hound of the Baskervilles'

The photograph below is the view from Conan Doyle's bedroom looking down into the Nutcombe Valley and onto the South Downs. Don't allow this view to disappear from the public gaze.

"A splendid window opening to a vista of unknown country there"

Monday, 2 November 2009

Save Undershaw

The current financial climate is not helping us with our aim of Saving Undershaw the former Home of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes novels which is not surprising as the credit crunch has hit so many people and businesses. In short we are now looking for a miracle - are there any out there?

It was here at Undershaw where he wrote his most famous book the eerie 'Hound of the Baskervilles' in 1902.

We urgently require a sponsor or beneficiary to help us with the purchase from the developers, restoration and preservation of this most historical house. Undershaw is under threat from the property developers who wish to build modern apartments. Please help us to realise our dream.

Is it possible for us to make history by saving this house? Is there someone out there that would like to go down in history for making this possible? Do we allow the credit crunch to take the blame for erasing our history?