Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Breaking News - BBC London News

To my delight and arising from the article featured by Gordon Rayner in the Telegraph yesterday, BBC London News would like to feature an article on Undershaw on their news programme. They are hoping to start filming either sometime this week or the early part of next week providing we have permission from the owners to film internally and externally at the site of Undershaw. The BBC will get back to me over the next couple of days and I will publish the dates and times here for any supporters that might be interested in coming along.

John Gibson, the Trust's director will also be present to give a guided showround to the film crew and to limited numbers of supporters, so if you would like to be included in this experience please let me know soonest.

Let me reiterate that this is pending permission from Undershaw's current owners.

I will also make contact with Richard Doyle, Conan Doyle's great nephew to see whether he will be guest of honour and to take part in an interview with the BBC.

I will keep you all posted on this successful end to 2009 and a hopeful success story for 2010.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Christmas and New Year Greetings from the grounds of Undershaw

Christmas and New Year Greetings to all my followers and supporters of the Save Undershaw campaign from the grounds of Conan Doyle's house here in the heart of Surrey.

Lets all hope that 2010 will give us reason to celebrate and that between us we are able to save the house that is surrounded in so much history and allow the public to re-enter the house where Conan Doyle wrote his most famous novel 'The Hound of the Baskervilles'. We must not allow the developers to build their apartments and take away the history that we are all so proud of.

Sir Arthur wrote to William Gillette inviting him to Undershaw for Xmas, he wrote: "My dear Gillette, You seem to have carried London once more by storm. Everyone I meet tells me the same thing. I do hope that your health is bearing the long strain.

I understand that the Company is free on Xmas Day. What I want is that you and all the American members of it should make this your home that day and not return until the 26th. I can put you all up with great ease and also Miss Healy's mother who, I understand, is with her. My wife would be overjoyed to see them both. Now do come yourself and arrange this, for if it is fine they will see a little of English country life which would perhaps be a change and a pleasant memory.
We can arrange all about trains".

A Conan Doyle

Does anyone know what year this was?

It appears Sir Arthur had many friends in many countries - perhaps the many countries would like to band together and make this a meeting place for all our friends worldwide. What a remarkable piece of history this would make!

Sunday, 20 December 2009

John Gibson - The Man Who Created the Undershaw Preservation Trust

This is the official registration document for the Undershaw Preservation Trust; registering Undershaw as a museum and cafeteria.

The Trust has been registered and set up by it's director Mr John Gibson, FRICS.

Born in Oxford, England John was an outstanding athlete in his youth who voluntarily left school at an early age. He started an early career in banking and took formal examinations for university entrance in art, mathmatics and sciences. Following a short period of study, he followed his vocational interest with antiquarian books regarding literature and architecture/building.

He attended a three year course in the late 1960's in London, graduating in 1969. Subsequently John gained experience in property having worked on large Greater London Council Schemes which included the redevelopment of the Croydon Aerodrome, private landed London Estates, Oxford College property holdings, City Bank and Government Agency.

John prepared and took many hundreds of court cases, including a 100% success rate in the higher court which is reported in the legal textbooks. He owned a portfolio of property investments largely in London. He developed property and prepared and took planning appeals. Valued property as diverse as major theatres, marinas, farms, country houses, woodland, development land and shopping centres.

John retired in his mid 50's to devote time to his collections and other interests.

He is a great collector of books (100,000 volumes) and ephemera autograph material and interesting art, photographs and posters.

Following over a decade of research and the discovery of much unknown material and stories by Doyle -published as the author/editor (with Richard Lancelyn Green) "My Evening with Sherlock Holmes" (1981), "A Bibliography of Arthur Conan Doyle" (1984 - Oxford University Press) - long correspondence between Graham Greene/Gibson, who provided the Preface; a series of three books on "The Unknown Conan Doyle", "Essays on Photography", "Letters to the Press" and "The Uncollected Stories" (all published by Secker & Warburg, 1983/84).

He also produced and published privately an exact facsimile of the first Sherlock Holmes novel "A Study in Scarlet" in 1987 on its centenary - 50 copies of which were inscribed and signed by Jean Conan Doyle (the daughter of Arthur Conan Doyle). John also supplied an article and new information to the Sherlock Holmes Journal. Winner of the Edgar Allan Poe Award in 1984 in the United States.

His interest in Doyle has taken him as far afield as Switzerland and California. He assisted Sotheby's, London and Pacific Book Auctions, San Francisco with Doyle collections.

John has known Undershaw for over forty years and involved the Victorian Society in the property from June 2006. Publicity against development given to national newspapers and national/international (including Russian public channel)television. Personally spoke at planning committee hearing in December 2006 where the previous redevelopment application was unanimously rejected by the Committee. John can be seen in this picture walking around the grounds of Undershaw keeping a careful eye on its developments.

Founded the Undershaw Preservation Trust in 2009 to help protect and preserve Undershaw as a single dwelling house. The Heritage Lottery Fund has indicated that it may match fund any money raised to save the historic house.

John is a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in three specialisations - Arts, Building and Valuation.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

An Article in the Telegraph

I was interviewed yesterday evening by a journalist from the Telegraph who is writing an article about Undershaw which is likely to be featured in the paper between Christmas and New Year.

This is just what we had hoped for, a national paper to pick up on our story, with the hope that it will raise awareness to a wider section of the public. This is now a prime time especially with all the hype of the new Sherlock Holmes film that is due in our cinemas shortly. A big thank you to the Telegraph.

Our next step towards public awareness is to grab the attention of a commissioning editor to put a documentary together on the history of Conan Doyle and his time at Undershaw, Sherlock Holmes and our efforts to save the building. As I have written in previous posts I have been in contact with a freelance TV producer who would like to make the documentary but needs the backing from a commissioning editor. Recent communication with Claire Whalley indicates that she has not had any response from the BBC. How disappointing but we must remember the saying 'No news is good news'. We positively await a response.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

BREAKING NEWS - Planning application now imminent!

I have made contact with the planning department of Waverley Borough Council today. The plans to convert Undershaw into apartments and its registration is imminent. It is likely that it could be over the next several days and certainly no later than the early part of the New Year. We have said all along that the developers are most likely to submit plans just days before Christmas which then only gives us several days to object instead of the full 21 days that we were relying on. We are therefore carefully checking the local papers for these long awaited plans so that we can then object wholeheartedly and of course at the right time, against this terrible act that is being committed to Undershaw.

The offices of the planning department will close at 4.00 pm on 24th December and re-open at 9.00 am on 4th January.

I now ask for all those that claim to be in support of preventing Undershaw from being split up into separate units to get behind the Undershaw Preservation Trust and show that you are truly passionate about saving Conan Doyle's Undershaw either by urgently signing the on-line petition: or more importantly writing your own letter of objection, headed up UNDERSHAW PROPOSALS, to prevent Undershaw from being converted to residential dwellings. Please also include in your letter, which is of the most importance, that public access must be retained. All letters to be addressed to Hilary Hobbs, Planning Department, Waverley Borough Council, The Burys, Godalming, Surrey, GU7 1HR. This could be our last chance! Only YOU can help us save this very important piece of history. We are doing what we can! We may have to rely on some of you to give us the backing we so desperately need. We care enough do you?

Words of Support from William Roache MBE

I would like to take this opportunity to thank William Roache MBE for his interest and input to the Save Undershaw project. I know he has had a busy schedule with filming Coronation Street over the last few months but has managed to find a few minutes of his time to write the following for the blog and the on-line petition:

"We all know and love Sherlock Holmes and beyond that Conan Doyle was a much respected author and a man of many interests. So when a beautiful house that was his home and inspiration is not just up for sale but going to be demolished it is our national duty to preserve it. Ideally as a museum to the great man. It needs a massive, ongoing, fund raising venture or some big corporation with a big heart to take up this project. It must be saved".
William has also written his autobiography entitled 'Soul on the Street' which I fully recommend.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Radio Interview - 27th August 2009

The link for the radio interview that was conducted by delta radio is somehow not linking us to their site so instead if you google 'Delta Radio - John Gibson and Lynn Gale' it should bring us up entitled 'Could the mystery of Conan Doyle's former home ........' This interview was held on the Awareness Day at the site of Undershaw in our bid to save the building from the developers.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

For Sale - Undershaw Hotel

Today was a dry, fresh sunny day and I thought I would take a wander down to the house that I have grown to be at home with in the hope that it may give me fresh clues as to what my next step will be in the continous endeavours to save Sir Arthur's property. I do this on ocassions when I need to shut the world out and find the solitude that comes from behind the tall trees as you leave the busy A3 and step into another world following the curvy driveway to Undershaw and the peaceful grounds that surround the house. Of course once the old A3 gives way to the new road housing the tunnel this place of solitude will be even more peaceful. I just cannot believe that in the next few months this could be the site of modern day apartments and not the visitor centre and museum that we had hoped for.

It looks as though the trees have been cleared from the massive board that still advertises its sale or let. This makes me wonder whether the developers are indeed fed up with the controversy that this building has brought to them since 2005 and indeed are they still looking to perhaps get rid by means of the best offer that could still come their way. Unfortunately the Undershaw Preservation Trust does not have that amount of money to put in that 'best offer' unless of course we receive generous support from a sponsor or benefactor or indeed receive substantial pledges to increase the Trust's funds. To pledge a sum of money please state your chosen amount and e-mail this with your contact details to: and we will be in touch.

I took a stroll along the Haslemere Road to search out Undershaw's neighbour, now a building site, presumably more modern houses will be built to fill the gap. This must not happen to Undershaw - whilst we have time we must act now. We are always too quick to say 'we should have' or 'if only' and by then it is always too late.

To coincide with the release of the new Sherlock Holmes film we would have hoped to be in a position to advertise our efforts on local TV. I have written to ITV Meridian Tonight who carried out an interview from Conan Doyle's bedroom at Undershaw with Richard Doyle (great newphew of Sir Arthur) at the end of May with the hope that they will now show this piece of footage to help with the campaign. If anyone reading this is in a position to persuade ITV Meridian to show this I would be extremely grateful. This piece of footage should be kept for history purposes and not destroyed.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

On-line Petition

Just to remind everyone that there is an on-line petition which will be printed up and sent off to Waverley Borough Council before or just after the Christmas period or whenever the plans by the developers are submitted. Please support us with this venture by signing the petition as a matter of urgency. Lets take the total up to 500 signatures. To remind you of the link: Please don't delay!

Monday, 7 December 2009

Just A Thought - Would a Theatrical Group be interested in Undershaw?

A thought for the day! After a grand evening at the Electric Theatre, Guildford on Saturday to watch the adaptation of Conan Doyle's 'Hound of the Baskervilles' the thought came to one of my staunch supporters and dear friend to include a small threatrical area within Undershaw should we be lucky enough to raise enough funds to purchase the building from the developers, to tie in with our idea of a museum, gift and coffee shop with conference area. Could we ask various theatres to participate in a fund raising scheme for the Undershaw Preservation Trust? Ideas would be appreciated.

Should the theatre or several theatres like to be involved with fund raising and if you would like to know more about the Trust, then please telephone its Director, Mr John Gibson, FRICS on 01372 453147 or e-mail me, Lynn Gale at for more information. Full detail of our aims will appear on our website once it is up and running.

The cast of the 'Hound of the Baskervilles', namely the Bramley Players put on a marvellous performance and was greatly received by all that attended. We wish to thank the staff of the theatre for permitting us to advertise our plight and for their willingness to help with the distribution of fliers and cards. Our thanks also go to Jenny Swift, the production's director for her understanding of our demands. We hope that we may have interested a few more people not least those working in the threatrical business. Time will tell whether we made any sort of impact by campaigning at this small but extremely popular theatre. I fully recommend a visit. A friendly and enjoyable evening for all the family.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Sherlock Holmes Needs YOUR Help!

Should anyone wish to contact me personnally with their pledge of help - whether it would be promoting the campaign at their place of work by displaying our flyiers and cards, directing people to the on-line petition or whether it is just a question concerning Undershaw then you can contact me at You may even know someone who would like to help with fund raising for the Undershaw Preservation Trust. I look forward to hearing from you. YOUR INPUT IN WHATEVER WAY WILL HELP US WITH OUR EFFORTS.

You can also give the campaign a boost by writing comments in the section on each of the posts contained in this blog should you wish. A letter of protest to the proposed modern apartments that are threatening to ruin this site should be sent to Waverley Borough Council. This would undoubtedly help when it comes to the Councillor's making their decisions. We would like to see Undershaw restored to its former glory and ensure that public access is retained. This is most important.

Please help in whatever way you can we need public support and we need it NOW! Time is running out.

Just to remind you that our website will be up and running in the near future. A very kind lady from Manchester has donated enough funds to professionally get this done. So my sincere thanks goes out to her and her grandson for making this possible. It was also this lady that kindly made contact with William Roache MBE on my behalf. He is willing to help in whatever way he can despite his busy schedule filming Coronation Street. William is happy to take part in the TV documentary should we be successful with any of the commissioning editors of the BBC. He has also given us a contact at Granada TV. This very kind lady is also the author of a new book being published sometime in January entitled 'Life's Mysteries - Your Key to Understanding' in which she is pictured here on the set of Coronation Street with William Roache MBE.

It is help like this that makes things happen and if everyone that was passionate about saving the building acted in the same way we would SAVE UNDERSAW without a shadow of a doubt. So please please help me with this incredible venture. I cannot do this on my own.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

'The View - Mind over Matter, Heart over Mind'

To coincide with the Arthur Conan Doyle conference that was held at the White Eagle Lodge on the 22nd May and the 150th anniversary of Conan Doyle's birthday a book entitled 'The View -Mind over Matter, Heart over Mind' was launched and received a 4-star rating from the Kindred Spirit Magazine. To find out more about the book and its connection with Conan Doyle go to:
I can highly recommend this book - it has been my inspiration through the ups and downs that have come with the campaign. Should anyone feel tempted to buy the book; and reading through you will see how inspirational it can be.

I had the pleasure of meeting Dave Patrick at the conference with many of the authors of this book (pictured on the right) and after spending time in their company I began to realise that anything was possible and the inspiration that I received on that day has stayed with me right through the year giving me the strength and the will to fight on. These were all very positive human beings, there was nothing negative about these people whatsover. So when I was told to believe in what I felt in my heart - I really believed I could save Undershaw. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dave and his co-authors for making me believe in myself and giving me the belief of the positive thinking theory, in that if you believe in something enough, anything is possible.