Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Welcome to Mark Gatiss - Patron/Sponsor The Undershaw Preservation Trust

I can confirm that Mark Gatiss, actor, screenwriter and novelist has officially confirmed that he would be honoured to accept his patronship and sponsor for the Trust. A move that we have welcomed with great honour and much gratitude.

Mark recently very kindly carried out his first radio interview as the Trust's patron for BBC Radio Surrey serving Sussex and Kent for their Drivetime. You can listen to his interview on our website http://www.saveundershaw.com/ under 'Media Coverage' which is situated in the right hand margin.

The Trust hope to meet up with Mark sometime in January to discuss various issues relating to Undershaw. It would be a step in the right direction if the developers agreed to join us for these dicussions. Of course this is a very unlikely scenario, but one that would be welcomed by the Trust and its Patron.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Public Announcement

The UPT are keeping close to their hearts an overwhelming announcement which will hopefully be made in the next day or two after further discussions. The UPT are a small team of individuals campaigning to save a very important part of history, a landmark in Hindead, Surrey for the last 113 years. Best known to the locals and worldwide as Undershaw, the former residence of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

We have campaigned for almost 3 years, prior to that many have tried and given up. The Trust was set up in August 2009 by John Gibson, author of 5 books on Doyle and between us we have managed to promote the cause in many different ways making all the national papers, the front page of the Los Angeles Times, ITV and BBC London, ITV Meridian and BBC South Today and now our greatest goal is for a TV documentary on Doyles time at Undershaw and our efforts to save it.

The Trust at long last maybe blessed with a sponsor/Patron to head the campaign and promote the cause, and whats more it could be a joint sponsorship. An announcement will be made pending a statement from this influential gentleman who has great connections with Doyle and Sherlock Holmes. The twist is, could they be the Trust's very own Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson?

Monday, 6 December 2010

Thank you to Mark Gatiss

Mark has re-tweeted some of our tweets on Twitter for which we are truly grateful. He has asked if there is anything he could do to help. We must now aim for big big exposure and get our campaign out in the open once and for all.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Christmas Cards

Christmas cards showing Undershaw in the snow will be available for sale at the end of next week in packs of 5, same design at £10.00 per pack. Please support us by ordering your Christmas cards now. The cards will incorporate our new UPT logo that was designed by Thomas Ryan Ward.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Thank you Warner Brothers

I wish to thank Warner Brothers, in particular Alex who very kindly agreed to meet with me, who kindly listened with interest as I rattled off the story behind the founding of the Undershaw Preservation Trust, our efforts, goals and our battle with developers. More importantly, and hopefully it was one step forward to better exposure and the opportunity to be able to leave the details with Alex who kindly offered to pass them on.

This is none other than a coincidence, or is it! Sherlock Holmes the sequel being filmed on my doorstep and the opportunity to be able wander in, albeit under very strict and tight security, explain the very essence of me being there, being escorted from A to B and back again but having the opportunity to be on the very site with it all happening around me. One amazing experience if nothing else.

I have since heard from Alex who sent the following e-mail: "Good morning Lynn". Your e-mail has been forwarded to the Producers. As yet, I have not heard back, but will now follow up and report back to you. If you have not heard from me by Tuesday of next week, please get back in touch again as the crew will be filming at another location I am managing and I will have all the 'bosses' in one place and readily available! All the best Lynn.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Undershaw Website

Should you have been directed straight to this blog then you may not realise that we now have a website which is: www.saveundershaw.com

Thursday, 4 November 2010

The Judicial Review

Our solicitor has confirmed that paperwork pertaining to the Judicial Review has now been received by Mary Orton, Chief Executive at Waverley Borough Council. WBC have got until 14th November to comment on our representation.

Monday, 18 October 2010

My Short Pilgrimage to Undershaw

I took a stroll down to Undershaw yesterday. To my disappointment, the building still appeared to have no real security as I noticed bottles and beer cans strewn in the driveway. A clear indication of unwanted visitors. Broken windows still hadn't been boarded up thus allowing the winter elements to attack the building for another stretch. It was most apparent that signs of development had not commenced.

I was armed with a camera and took several general photo's within the grounds, but nothing of great importance. The biggest surprise was a massive plant that I found in amongst the overgrown trees. It looked like some sort of bog/pond plant, probably put there by the hoteliers. I can't imagine it being there in Conan Doyle's time although it towered above me like some sort of giant octupus, it could be several years old, but how many?

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Stephen Fry and Twitter

He has done it again! Not only the statement he supplied us back in March, which incidentally can be seen on our website www.saveundershaw.com but Mr Fry has backed us with a tweet on Twitter: http://twitter.com/stephenfry/status/25681586867 which has caused a massive response to the website and our Facebook page. The tweet actually caused the flow of traffic to the site to increase in a couple of days by 1,500% which apparently was a mega occurence and totally unheard of. When I received this piece of news from my web designer I automatically went into overdrive and thought 'Guinness Book of Records' and what publicity for Undershaw this would be. Sadly my thoughts were dashed when I received an e-mail saying although this was mega, it was not enough to make the record books. Whilst on the subject of the lovely Mr Fry, he has been cast as Mycroft in Guy Ritchie's sequel.

Since Monday of last week the Facebook page has increased from 77 to 552 which was all down to the help from Mr Fry. We held an Awareness Day on Facebook on 1st October calling on all our friends to post the link. In response to this we had a further 52 visits to the Facebook page.

The comments on the website were also incredible, since Monday we received over 100 comments from all over the world. Your comments on this site are very valuable to us so please continue to let us know what this building actually means to you and your thoughts on Waverley's decision to allow the development.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

The Judicial Review

The Trust has today received confirmation from Waverley that full planning approval has now been granted for the development of Undershaw. This is a clear indication that the owners have complied with the conditions set out by the Council.

Since hearing the news the Trust have been in urgent discussions with the barrister dealing with the case. An application applying for a Judicial Review in the High Court will be submitted and we hopefully anticipate that it will be granted.

Also paperwork is being prepared for an investigation by the Local Government Ombudsman as to the dreadful way in which Waverley have presided over the complete dereliction of Undershaw for the last 5 years. (The two photographs show here Undershaw in its hey day and several years later its demise under the care of the local authorites and its owners).

Should we be successful or unsuccessful whatever the case, at least we will know that justice was sought and the right decision was made. If we stand back and do nothing - we will never know.

Monday, 13 September 2010

ITV London News - Follow-up

I heard from the ITV reporter today who informed me that the International Library Sales Department loved the news item recently shown on ITV London News (which incidentally can be viewed on our website: http://www.saveundershaw.com/) and that they will be checking to see how many countries this broadcast went out to. At the moment the link can only be viewed within the UK. I will endeavour to find out whether the link can be made available to those following the twists and turns of the Undershaw campaign outside of the UK and perhaps a feature on YouTube.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

ITV London News

The Trust were interviewed and filmed yesterday for a feature on ITV London News which may be shown as early as tonight. I will keep you all updated. We spoke about the pending Judicial Review which incidentally we have instructed our barrister to proceed. We have reasons to believe that Waverley Borough Council are now fairly happy that the owners have complied with all conditions that were attached to the planning approval.

It was distressing to see how easily it is for vandals to get in and destroy what little there is left of this iconic building. There were signs that vandals had been in recently and trashed the site even further. Again no security on the building and the gate at the top of the drive left open for anyone to enter the grounds. We have tried on numerous occasions to alert Waverley Borough Council of this and sadly the owners are not protecting this site or the building sufficiently to counteract further acts of vandalism. It is a total disgrace on our English Heritage to allow such a dreadful crime to be committed to what should be our heritage and something that should prosper for another 100 years or more.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Alistair's visit to Hindhead

I mentioned in a post previously that Alistair Duncan is writing a book about the Undershaw Years. I had the privilige of meeting him last week and in his blog he described his visit to Undershaw as a pilgrimage which I believe many would consider as just that.

Conan Doyle gained the respect of many people during his life time through his books and what he did for society. His popularity grew not only here in England but to all corners of the globe. The respect for his work is still evident even 80 years on since his death in 1930. Through the Sherlock Holmes character played by many actors, he has remained one of our best known literary icons and continues to attract fans from every generation since his passing.

His house is worthy of much more than mundane modern apartments and a trivial gazebo at the end of the garden with a wooden plaque stating that "Conan Doyle lived here". The authorities should seriously consider something more worthy of the man that gave us Sherlock Holmes, worked in a field hospital called the Langman Hospital in the Boer War, and was knighted in 1902 for his services to the crown, who found justice for George Edalji who had been wrongly convicted of assaulting horses/cattle which brought about the Court of Criminal Appeal in 1907 to name but a few.

The meeting with Alistair took us to Undershaw to view the current shameful vandalised state of the building, with more windows broken and again no security. We then travelled onto the graves of Louise Conan Doyle, Kingsley and Mary Conan Doyle and of course Conan Doyle's mother. We finally relaxed in the comfort of the Fox and Pelican where we met with John Gibson to discuss Alistair's new book. I must admit Alistair I do like the title of the book, thank you for sharing it with us.

Monday, 23 August 2010


With the help of several kind and enthusiastic gentlemen, Undershaw has now made the Wikipedia at the following link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Undershaw. My gratitude and thanks go out to Paul Spiring who along with Alistair Duncan have been complete rocks to the Trust and have contributed so much to the campaign.

I am proud to say that I will be meeting with Alistair in several weeks and honoured to say that the purpose of this meeting is tied in with his new book on Doyle's time at Undershaw. A 'must' for anyone interested in this famous building, Hindhead's landmark and the history behind the man who created Sherlock Holmes.

A TV documentary has also been discussed and an offer of help with this could be in the offering. I would like to see the theme of this documetary focus on Doyle's 10 years at Undershaw, his presence in and around Hindhead, and those he associated with, such as the likes of Flora Thompson (Larkrise to Candleford), Bram Stoker (author of Dracula), Professor John Tyndall (his neighbour) J M Barrie (author of Peter Pan) and Undershaw's demise since 2004 with the grand finale of our efforts to save the property and whatever the outcome is likely to be.

Monday, 9 August 2010

The House Next Door

I reported back in December 2009 about the new houses being built next to Undershaw, on the plot of land where Professor John Tyndall once lived. The 6-bedroomed houses are complete and they have been named quite appropriately 'Holmes Place'. I wonder whether Kirkby, the builders responsible for these extremely lovely yet expensive homes would be interested in Undershaw? I cannot help feeling that Fossway will sell Undershaw on - next door could be a likely candidate.

Don't allow Undershaw to be modernised in this way. Albeit the facade will remain but internally it will be divided into 3 separate units and modernised beyond recognition.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

The Sad Truth

These pictures were taken today whilst being interviewed by a correspondent from the Los Angeles Times. Both John and I felt ashamed that our British heritage has been treated in this way and for the American journalist to see how our grade II properties are treated by our authorities. It has been said before that if it were any other country this house would be protected and preserved.

I was amazed to see that a window that I noticed open 18 months ago was still open to the elements, graffiti on the wall, the boarding on the heraldic window pulled away and the glass smashed, rain pouring from the guttering and piles of rubble.
The pile of rubble indicates that the owners have already commenced work on the building, even though Waverley approved the proposal with conditions. Surely these conditions should be met before work is carried out? On Waverley Borough Council website their planning application is still 'pending decision'. Can the owner do this?
Waverley Borough Council assured us that the owners had complied with the 'Urgent Repairs Notice' and that security had been installed on the site. Shameful!

Monday, 2 August 2010

The Times Newspaper

The letter that was sent to the Times newspaper by two very concerned authors had 53 high profiled signatories calling for Jeremy Hunt to find a sensitive solution to the preservation of Undershaw. The full list of signatories can be viewed on our website www.saveundershaw.com under the section 'Aftermath'. To our surprise the Times also included a fantastic article on page 10. Thank you to Jeremy Vine for featuring such an intense article on Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes and our efforts to save Undershaw.

Can you believe that the first showing of the new BBC 'Sherlock' was viewed by 7.7 million viewers. Who said Undershaw would not be a popular Tourist Attraction!

British Airways Support Us

I have today received an e-mail from a Senior Flight Officer with BA pledging his and his colleagues support with our efforts. I wish to take this opportunity of thanking him for taking time out from flying around the world to send this most welcomed e-mail.

Perhaps BA could be starting something that other high profiled companies may wish to be involved in - Saving Britain's Heritage.

Thank you Senior Flight Officer and colleagues.

Saturday, 31 July 2010

SAVE Britain's Heritage

I would like to thank SAVE for their recent help with advertising our campaign on their website.

The Los Angeles Times

The Trust received a phonecall via Save Britain's Heritage and via the e-mail section of our website from the London based Los Angeles Times to inform us that a correspondent from their newspaper would like to interview us. John and I are meeting with them sometime next week. John is also meeting with the clerk to his barrister for a telephone conference as the barrister taking the Judicial Review is currently out of the country. We shall know more as to whether we have a strong case to proceed.

The Times Newspaper

As a matter of interest a must for today is the Times Newspaper. Page 10 gives a splendid outline of our campaign and a letter in the Editors letter section of the paper is a must see! (page 23). I am amazed at the amount of high profiled names that appear on the list of signatories - I have also been included for which I am so honoured to be listed amongst the greats.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Article in Guardian

John's article was featured in the Guardian of yesterday 20th July. You can view this at the following link http://gu.com/p/2tfv4/tw Talking of newspapers we received an e-mail from a correspondent of the German daily broadsheet Frankfurter Allgemeine wanting to speak with John regarding the proposed legal action to reverse the planning permission.

Monday, 19 July 2010

John Gibson visits QC to present his case

John has worked very hard over the weekend to prepare his case for a Judicial Review against Waverley Borough Council regarding their decision to approve the development plans of Undershaw.

Waverley Borough Council in theory has made this house, by granting planning permission, too rich for any person looking to restore this property as a single dwelling house. The sale price of this property may now reach 1.5 million.

He is meeting with the Clerk to a top QC in London today to ascertain as to whether this case has any chances of success. His case will be put forward to the Queen's Council and may take up to 3 weeks before we hear whether it would be worth proceeding.

He has also given a story to one of the top national newspapers and is currently preparing a story for a second. Several TV programmes have been alerted of this decision by Waverley and we await their response.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Why consideration should be given to application WA/2010/0830

You may ask why support the application on the Waverley Borough Council website reference number WA/2010/0830 in respect of change of use from hotel/restaurant to single dwelling house. The following, albeit in brief, forms Mr Norris's application and gives us an idea of what Undershaw needs and what his proposals are:

"The property has been vacant since 2004. In this time the property has been left to degrade and has been subject to vandalism. It is critical that the building receives remedial work before the extent of damage makes repairs unviable. It has been noted that the council has taken steps to protect the building from the elements by means of scaffold and roof coverings.

Whilst it has been suggested in a previous application that "...there is no market interest in the property as a single dwelling house ..." the application we have now submitted would highlight a view to the contrary. The 1930's extension to the original house notwithstanding, the property has always retained its single dwelling house character. It is in the interest of preserving this heritage asset that we have put this proposal forward to return the building to its original use as a single domestic dwelling.

All materials will be appropriate to preserving the period style of the building and resue it from its current dilapidated state. There will be negligible impact to the main South and West facades to the building. All the work considers the character of the building being upheld and reversing the damage that has been subsequent to the closure of the hotel. All measures which were applied to bring the building up to relevant standards for hotel use such as fire doors on the first floor landing and second floor emergency escape will be sensitively reversed keeping in mind the Edwardian aesthetic and detailing.

I hope after you have read this you will support Mr Norris's application to return Undershaw to a single dwelling house - PPG15 advises that: "The best use will very often be the line for which the building was originally designed, and the continuation or reinstatment of that use should certainly be the first options when the future of a building is considered". Why on earth did Waverley Borough Council not follow the advise of the PPG15?

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Breaking News - Judicial Review.

After much thought and several discussions the Undershaw Preservation Trust are seriously considering a judicial review against Waverley Borough Council in their handling of Undershaw and also reporting this continuing shabby sad story of the house to the local government ombudsman. This was also revealed in a radio interview with Eagle radio yesterday morning in a discussion with Cllr Adam Taylor-Smith. Eagle radio were in Hindhead at the National Trust Cafe with their 'Love Tour'. John Gibson revealed on the Peter Gordon breakfast show that the Trust were taking steps to seek advice from a top QC. Of course this will not be cheap, a recent quote already received was in excess of £30,000 and if we lose we could be liable for WBC's costs. A pre-meeting with a QC to ascertain what our chances would be will be arranged this week and the process for the judicial review will be implemented should we have a good chance of pulling this off.

Can I ask all supporters of Undershaw to go onto the Waverley Borough Council website and under planning please support the application for a single dwelling reference number WA/2010/0830. This is our mystery buyer's application that was so unfairly overlooked at the planning meeting on 9th June.

Should anyone feel they would like to complain about the recent decision by WBC then you may wish to write to Mary Orton, Chief Executive of Waverley Borough Council, The Burys, Godalming, Surrey, GU7 1HR expressing your disappointment.

I look forward to your continuing support and thank you for any help you are able to give.

(The photograph above shows John Gibson with the staff of Eagle radio, copyright of this photo is also the property of Eagle Radio).

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

We Need a Miracle Now!

I was always a believer of miracles - it will take one now to save this house, a house we have grown to love during its long stretch of uncertainty.

I just wish Neil Caffrey could see the benefit of keeping the house as a single entity and opening it to the public. It could have kept him in profit for the rest of his life. Just think it could have been as popular as the Sherlock Holmes Museum in London and with this he would have received the praise and admiration from the nation - not just a normal speculative developer.

So Neil if you are reading this can you perform a miracle and consider a single dwelling?

Monday, 14 June 2010

Alistair Duncan

I have met and through letters and e-mails have made many useful contacts that have remained with me throughout and through part of the campaign. Over the next few months I would like to give a mention to these individuals separately so that each one stands out from the next.

I am going to start with Alistair Duncan (pictured above).

Alistair has written several books entitled 'Close to Holmes', 'Eliminate the Impossible' and 'The Norwood Author'. As written previously he very kindly donated these books to the raffle that was held recently to raise an awareness of Undershaw. This prize was won by Mrs English. Photo directly above (to follow) shows me presenting Mrs English with the 3 books at the top of the driveway to Undershaw.

You can find a post on Alistair in the blog archive for May which gives you the details of his books and the link to his publishers website. If you enjoy your Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes then you will enjoy Alistair's books.

Before the decision was made to develop Undershaw, Alistair wrote a few paragraphs to insert into my blog.

"When Lynn first suggested to me the idea of a book on Undershaw I was sceptical. I had only recently completed my book 'The Norwood Author' and had been hoping to hang up my pen for a few months. However, Lynn's was not the only voice. An American Sherlockian contacted me via a website entitled 'Sherlockian Who's Who' (a global directory of Sherlockians) and suggested the very same idea. Despite this I was still sceptical.

Why was I sceptical? I guess it was because I felt that this part of Conan Doyle's life had been well covered. With my earlier book I was covering a period that had, to a large extent, been overlooked. I didn't feel the same was true for 1897-1907.

I finally became convinced when Guy Marriot, the president of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London, added his voice to the chorus in May.

The book is now underway.

If I have one regret it is that my book will have nothing to do with the fate of this great house. By the time it is complete the house will have either been saved or developed (I use the term very loosely). However, in the event that it is saved I hope that my book will demonstrate why it was the right thing to do (although why there would be any doubt is beyond me). If, sadly, Undershaw has been vandalised (I can think of no other word) then my book will be able to show (I hope) what a disastrous and short-sighted decision it was.

Alistair Duncan

So watch out for this new exciting book about Undershaw and Conan Doyle's life in Hindhead.

Thank you Alistair for your contribution.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Planning Application for Conversion Approved

It saddens me to report that our fight to save Undershaw has come to an abrupt end with a unanimous decision in favour of the current planning application. Those that attended the meeting and those that watched the events unfold on line could see what a well rehearsed meeting it turned out to be - none other than a 'kangaroo court'.

Councillor's, mainly from the area voted in approval of the application without any thought for their local people and their own heritage. We stood no chance as it was 6 to 1 in favour.

An application for a single dwelling house was registered with the council, it was acknowledged but to my dismay was not even considered especially after our Mr 'X' had previously been in discussion with members of the council to ascertain the procedure for submitting an application of this kind. Several thousands out of pocket - not one person from the council advised him against his actions.

I wish to thank everyone for their support over this last year, in particular the Doyle family who were there this evening to watch the events unfold. My special thanks go out to Jeff Theobold who taxied me in his marvellous steam car, Paul Osborne who took endless amounts of footage, the Haslemere Wardrobe for allowing me to borrow one of their Victorian costumes, Rupert Sheard who kindly played the role of Sherlock Holmes, Linda Eades and Sue Meadows my rocks throughout the year, Alistair Duncan for his great books, my boss for being understanding, the various businesses in and around Grayshott, Andrews Lawnmowers in Hindhead, The Fox and Pelican and Devils Punchbowl Hotel for publicising the campaign, Jeremy Hunt MP for his kind words, Caroline White for never taking sides, Joanna Tull from the Surrey Advertiser and Caroline Toms from the Haslemere Herald for putting up with my continuous news stories, Haslemere Town Council and The Victorian Society for voting against the application, our mystery buyer for his expenditure on his planning application to convert Undershaw to a single dwelling, Stephen Fry, William Roache, MBE, Sir Christopher Frayling and the BAFTA 4JB Team for their statements of support, to all my colleagues at work who believed in me, Sheila Rigby and her grandson Sam who ensured that our new website went live, John Gibson, the trust's director for his lengthy typing exercises, Harry Tennant our 10 year old supporter for wearing the t-shirt and devising various ways to raise awareness, his mum Julia Groves for all her help with radio interviews, Peter Lawrence for his idea of a wedding venue, the many supporters from around the world, Allan and Lorraine for publicising our campaign on their website, Barry Faust for his input with raising awareness in the Portsmout area, Sally Morgan who showed her support in the early stages of the campaign, Roger Straughan for his book and readings, Dave Patrick for his inspiration and to Conan Doyle for being a remarkakle icon, and bringing to life a fictitious character, for Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson and not forgetting our beloved Undershaw!

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

The Decider - Committee Meeting 9th June 2010

Tomorrow will bring us the deciding verdict in the long saga of Save Undershaw campaign. A committee meeting at Waverley Borough Council offices in Godalming will decide the future of Undershaw. This meeting will take place at 5.30 pm and will be web cast to enable those that have been following the story to watch the verdict as it unfolds. The link to this is featured in a previous post which you will find in the Blog Archive for May.

I am making my way to the meeting from Haslemere in Victorian costume being transported by a 1911 vintage steam car and being interviewed by BBC Surrey/Sussex Radio Drive Show. I am picking up Sherlock Holmes and John Gibson on the journey. The event will be captured on film and a short footage will be put together for the website. Local and national papers have been alerted as has the BBC London News and ITV Meridian Tonight. They may wish to report on the conclusion of this story.

I will be leaving Weydown Road, Haslemere at approximately 4.00 pm to make the journey to Godalming, passing the Town Council Offices and the clock tower through to Grayswood and onto Godalming. Should anyone catch site of this car, please show us your support!

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Sir Christopher Frayling

The Trust has today been graced with a statement from Sir Christopher Frayling in his support for Undershaw. Sir Christopher who is ex Chairman of the Arts Council England; ex Rector of the Royal College of Art; currently Professor Emeritus of Cultural History Royal College of Art and Fellow of Churchill College Cambridge wrote the following message of support:

"Undershaw was the much-loved home of Arthur Conan Doyle, once he had become an established writer. Many of the books, pamphlets and articles with which he is now so closely associated were penned there, and he developed a deep relationship with the local community around Undershaw as well. Many of the great names in late Victorian and Edwardian literature visited Conan Doyle at Undershaw for meetings, dinners and cricket matches. I have read several of Conan Doyle's diaries for this period and know just how much time he spent at the house. So it was not a question of "Conan doyle slept here".

Undershaw played an important part in his writing life. One of the most celebrated photographs of Conan Doyle - often reproduced - maybe THE photograph of him shows him, legs crossed, sitting in his writing room at Undershaw surrounded by trophies.

So I fully support the campaign - he'd have liked that word - to preserve and list the currently unlisted parts of the building, ie the stable and the 'well'. By association, and in its own right, Undershaw is a significant house".

Sir Christopher Frayling

Sir Christopher is calling for the two items that have survived for 113 years, the stable and the 'well' to be listed. These two areas of the house were not included in the description which may have been an oversight on English Heritage's part or quite simply that they did not gain access to these two areas at the time of their visit. These items should be listed as is the herladic windows etc. We have made an urgent appeal to Jeremy Hunt MP, asking him to make representation to English Heritage to have these areas included in the description so therefore giving them the listed status they quite rightly deserve. Without this listing, the stables will be ripped out and the 'well' will be buried below one of the new town houses.

A previous article on Sir Christopher Frayling was written and can be viewed in the blog archive section under April. (photo: by Linda Nylind, Guardian)

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Planning Officers Approve Planning Application to Convert Undershaw

It is with regret that I have to announce the very bad news that Waverley Borough Council have given a conditional approval to the current planning application to split Undershaw into 3 seperate dwellings and build a further five dwellings alongside despite the rejection from Haslemere Town Council and the Victorian Society.

This is not only heart wrenching news but a terrible blow to the Undershaw Preservation Trust. I am unable to write further on this and it just leaves me to say that we shall attend the Committee meeting on 9th June to put forward our views to this scandulous proposal in the hope that the councillors are more sympathetic to our way of thinking.

Please continue to support our efforts!

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Breaking News - No Go for the 'One Show'

I have tonight received confirmation from the BBCs the 'One Show' that filming and interviewing will not now be taking place because of the decision not to allow any further access to the house by its owners, Fossway. The 'One Show' are unable to feature our plight with only our footage of the house which is disappointing for the Trust and for our national heritage.

A BBC script had been prepared for the show that was due to be featured on Monday 7th June.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Open Days - Raising an Awareness of Undershaw

The Open Days at Andrews Lawnmower's and Hindhead Hot Tubs were supported moderately well, Saturday being the better day, Sunday being a dismal cold, damp and wet day. However, I was supported by people that mattered. It was a great pleasure and honour to meet, for the second time, the new Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Jeremy Hunt MP who offered his support to the campaign.

My question to Jeremy was plain and simple - please upgrade Undershaw to a Grade II* or Grade I, a move that he fully supports.

A lovely family from America slowed their car down and showed off their Save Undershaw t-shirts. They stopped for an interesting chat and were a possible link to Guy Ritchie. Several photographs were taken with Sherlock Holmes. (I would like to ask the family if I could possibly have a copy of that photograph for the blog). Rupert Sheard very kindly played the role of Sherlock Holmes as he did in the 'Hound of the Baskervilles at the Electric Theatre in Guildford. Rupert's father the late Michael Sheard played alongside Peter Egan in the 'Dark Side of the Sun' back in 1983.

The fabulous Austen car was provided by a lovely gentleman from the area which certainly caught the eye of passers by.

The lawnmower that Andrews had donated to the cause was won by Roger Meadows from Bath and other prizes of fabulous books donated and signed by their authors also found good homes. A small amount was made on the raffle and will go towards printing of cards and stickers etc.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Posthumous BAFTA for Jeremy Brett

May I ask all my followers and visitors to this blog to visit the following website http://www.bafta4jb.com/ and be part of several hundred people that have put their name to the petition in support of this worthwhile cause. The Undershaw Preservation Trust supports the efforts that are being made to ensure that the late Jeremy Brett is honoured with the award that he so rightly deserves.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Web Cam link to the Planning Meeting on 9th June

You will all know by now that the planning meeting due for 12th May has been put back until Wednesday 9th June. The meeting is scheduled to take place at 5.30 pm A link that may enable you to watch the entire meeting as it unfolds on web cam is: http://www.waverley.gov.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?documentID=944 The gap in between 'documents' and 'info' in the link address is _ (underscore).

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Alistair Duncan - Buy his books and You will be Supporting Undershaw

For several months I have been in communication with Alistair Duncan who, in the early days, dedicated some of his time to the campaign to save Undershaw. Alistair has written several books on the subject of Sherlock Holmes and Arthur Conan Doyle and has kindly donated a set of three, all signed, to be prizes on the open days of 15th and 16th May at Andrews of Hindhead opposite Undershaw for the grand raffle.

Alistair has today written to me to express his concern about the building and his determination to help the campaign and the Undershaw Preservation Trust. He has persuaded his publisher to set up a special code for people to buy his books and this can be accessed through the following link: http://www.mxpublishing.co.uk/engine/shop/page/Partners/Save+Undershaw+Campaign If at the checkout, you enter the code 'undershaw' a donation of £1.50 for each book sold will go towards the campaign.

It is written that Alistair is a respected Holmes historian and writer of the acclaimed 'Eliminate the Impossible' which has set the standard for recent examinations of Arthur Conan Doyle's works. A fascinating and enjoyable work that has garnered praise from around the Sherlockian world. The Sherlock Holmes Society of London commented in their review of ETI - 'Alistair Duncan knows his Holmes'. His second book - 'Close to Holmes' - a look at the connections between historical London, Sherlock Holmes and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has proved a hit with Holmes and ACD fans as well as those interested in Victorian London.

His third book 'The Norwood Author' is a biography of Arthur Conan Doyle, covering the few years he spent living in Norwood. During this time he wrote several Sherlock Holmes stories including the notorious one where he kills off his hero.

I would like to thank Alistair for his generosity and dedication to the campaign and for his donations of books and funds amongst other help he has had a hand in.

By buying Alistair's books not only would you be buying a worthwhile read, you will be supporting the Undershaw project and by purchasing raffle tickets from myself or Andrews you will have the opportunity of winning all three books as a prize. Please support us in whatever way you can.

Of course we are now waiting for someone to publish a book on Conan Doyle's time at Undershaw which I could then base my TV documentary on! Who knows! BBC News, Meridian Tonight, The One Show ...........................TV documentary!

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Save Undershaw Video

Our Save Undershaw video can now be viewed at the following link http://vimeo.com/11360128 The video shows the shameful state that Undershaw has been allowed to become because of its neglect and abandonment by our local council and its owners. John Gibson is also shown in this video highlighting his concerns.

It would help the Trust and Paul Osborne who very kindly put the video together for us, if you would kindly spend several minutes compiling a few words of comment on this subject or indeed on the video.

Breaking News - Planning Meeting

The planning meeting that was scheduled for the 12th May has now been put back until 9th June or even later. We have been given no reasons for this and hope the only reason could be that Waverley Borough Council have doubts as to approve this planning application! I will keep you all updated.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Breaking News - The 'One Show'

I have been writing every month for the last eight months to the 'One Show' trying to get our cause featured and at long last a call from the show's producer finally came today. I now await the outcome of our telephone conversation to see whether our efforts will eventually be rewarded with a showing on this most popular show.

Good news or not such good news! The producer of the One Show has now got back to me - the date that Undershaw will be featured is the 7th June - 2 days before the planning meeting. Interviews and filming for this will take place in the lead up to this date but unfortunately not on the site of Undershaw.

Due to much publicity and an overwhelming influx of visitors in the past the owners have declined to allow anymore filming on their land. I can't blame them really, the building is an embarrassment and it only shows how Fossway Limited, a financial company, have allowed it to become in such a derelict condition. It is criminal and shameful that our heritage has been treated in this way. Why on earth has this building been allowed to fall into such disrepair it deserves more protection and its history should be safeguarded from property developers looking to line their pockets. It is reasonable to say that history like this cannot be erased after 113 years of existence.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Hindhead Hot Tubs and Andrews Lawnmower Open Days - Supporting Undershaw

I have mentioned in previous posts that several of the local businesses have been very supportive in our bid to save Undershaw. The most recent to add their voice to the campaign is Andrews Lawnmowers and Hindhead Hot Tubs, their premises being just yards from Undershaw. To promote their business and to support the Undershaw Preservation Trust they have decided to hold an open weekend on 15th and 16th of May just days before Conan Doyle's 151st anniversary of his birth date being 22nd May.

Arrangements for the weekend are currently being finalised but it is proposed for the shop to open its doors and allow you to wander around and marvel at the spectacular spas, jacuzzis, hot tubs and saunas (perhaps trying them out as you go), check out all the mod cons in the lawn mower department and peek inside the timber framed sheds and conservatries whilst the children have fun on the Tractor rides. Refreshments, ice cream, balloons and soft music written and performed by John Meriton will all form part of the weekend.

There will be a raffle in aid of Undershaw and proceeds of this will go towards the erection of a bronze statue on the corner of the Hindhead traffic lights either of Conan Doyle or Sherlock Holmes. This of course will be subject to planning permission. The first prize on offer for this is a Mountfield Lawnmower and to celebrate Hindhead being the area of the hilltop writers there will be signed copies of various books from authors supporting the Undershaw Preservation Trust. Raffle tickets on sale now (£1.00 a strip) There will also be guest appearances from Sherlock Holmes and he may even have a case to solve: the curious incident of the empty house.

We are in the throws of arranging a possible display of vintage cars and appeal to local people that are owners of these cars to come along with their vehicles in a show of support for our businesses and Undershaw.

Hindhead Hot tubs opened in 1982 with Steve Andrews as its director. The lawnmower department is a family run business for which Steve also plays an important part with his parents and brother John Andrews.

This is going to be a fun weekend for all the family - so why not come along and support your local business and our national landmark. I will be adding to this once the press release has been finalised and I know more details of the event.

Harry, seen wearing his 'Support the Undershaw Preservation Trust t-shirt, from Shottermill junior school will be organising a competition amongst the pupils of his school to see who can design a motif for the Trust. Judging will take place on the Sunday and will be judged by Mr Sherlock Holmes. This picture was taken in what I call my 'office' but it is really the 'snug' in the Fox and Pelican in Grayshott who are also supporting the campaign.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

New Website, Car Stickers and T-Shirt

I mentioned several months ago that a very kind lady from Manchester donated funding for the Save Undershaw website which is now up and running. The link is: http://www.saveundershaw.com/ There is still work to be done and I am looking to insert a recent video of Undershaw. This recent video of Undershaw will also feature on 'YouTube'. Please be patient while work is still being carried out on the site. There is a section included which tells of peoples experiences of Undershaw. So if you have a story you would like to see published on the site please send it me at: info@saveundershaw.com

We have designed and due to go to print with the Save and Support Undershaw car stickers. Should you like one of these sent to you then please send a stamped addressed envelope to the Undershaw Preservation Trust, c/o Church Cottage, Tilford Road, Hindhead, Surrey, GU26 6RB. These are free - should you wish to donate something for the sticker then the Trust would be most grateful to receive your donation. It may help our cause for these to be displayed on your cars in the weeks leading up to the decision date on 9th June, please note this date has been rescheduled and of course can be displayed thereafter, especially if we are successful with our aims.

Should you wish to publicise our campaign by wearing one of our t-shirts then these can readily be made available at a reasonable cost.
I have learned today that sadly my supplier, who was first class in his work has decided not to continue with his printing business. You can still place your orders with me at the above address. I am looking at another company to see whether they are able to supply a similar service.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Sir Christopher Frayling

I have recently written to Sir Christopher Frayling to ask whether he would be interested in supporting the Undershaw Preservation Trust in our efforts to prevent the house from being divided into separate units, prevent over development and to ensure that public access is retained to the house and gardens. I have since received a reply in which Sir Christopher asks: "How can I help" and then goes onto say "I'd be delighted, of course, to lend my support".

Sir Christopher's interest in Conan Doyle is well known and his brother Nicholas Frayling has sent his best wishes for our endeavours.

Christopher read history at Churchill College, Cambridge where he gained a Phd in the study of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. He went onto teach history at the University of Bath and in 1979 was appointed Professor of Cultural History at London's post graduate art and design school, the Royal College of Art. Since 1996 he has been Rector in charge of the College.

He was chairman of the Arts Council in England until 2007 and was the Chairman of the Design Council, Chairman of the Royal Mint Advisory Committee, and a Trustee of the Victoria and Albert Museum. He was a governor of the British Film Institute in the 1980's.

Christopher Frayling was awarded a knighthood in 2001 for "Services to Art and Design Education".

We now await further communication from Christopher with a decision on how he is able to support the campaign.

Time is now of the essence with a committee meeting due to sit on 12th May where a decision will be made by Waverley Borough Council.

May I take this opportunity to wish all my followers and those that have visited the site in the last month due to our recent appeal in the local papers and the Daily Mail, a very happy Easter. Keep yourself tuned in with the latest on Undershaw by visiting my weekly updates.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

History Lesson in the Making

I wish to thank Harry, a 10-year old boy from Shottermill Junior School who lives just yards from Undershaw who collected 30 names on a petition to assist the campaign to save a national landmark. This is a remarkable achievement by Harry and we would like to thank him for his contribution to help the 'Save Undershaw' campaign and his support to the Undershaw Preservation Trust. I urge Harry to post this directly as a matter of urgency as the deadline was 19th March onto the Planning Department at Waverley Borough Council with a covering letter stating what the petition is for.

Harry decided to use Undershaw as his subject for a school history project. He has since learned much about the house and indeed as Harry put it 'loads' about Arthur Conan Doyle.

After receiving permission from Harry's parents the Haslemere Herald and Surrey Advertiser (Godalming Edition) will feature a story about this marvellous undertaking of Harry's and his brush with history. The story if published may encourage other children and schools to learn about the house and Conan Doyle which would ultimately create an immense interest in the house's history. Another good reason why the house should remain as a landmark for all to enjoy.

Why not create history yourself and take on a project like Harry to help the Undershaw campaign. Harry has set an example that other children and schools could follow as part of their history lesson. Raising awareness of the house by creating publicity within the community is another way in which local children could help.

Harry's covering letter and petition can be viewed on the Waverley website by following the link detailed in a previous post on this blog.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Eagle Radio

Radio Eagle newsroom interviewed John Gibson yesterday from the Undershaw Preservation Trust, you can find this on the following link: http://www.964eagle.co.uk/news/review.php?article=160635 I have just learnt from eagle radio that the news broadcast is on MP3 player. I am not sure whether I am able to include this in the blog but give me a few days to work this one out!

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Deadline Over - but Undershaw not OUT!

With the deadline over for all comments to Waverley Borough Council, I encourage those that missed this deadline of Friday 19th March to write to WBC at the following address: The Corporate Services and Planning Department, The Burys, Godalming, Surrey, GU7 1HR quoting WA/2010/0172/0173, especially if you feel strongly about the current planning application. I have also noted that it appears you can object on-line until 29 March. So keep trying. Don't miss this opportunity and allow a deadline to interfere with our landmark.

With a building such as Undershaw, and a man as great as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, there can be no deadline! This in its self is an insult to the once owner of this building just like the proposed pavilion with its mere little board that is earmarked in recognition of his existence.

I would have thought the ladies and gents that form the board of councillors that will make this decision as to whether to grant or reject these plans would be educated enough to realise what an historical and welcomed landmark Undershaw could be. The true fact is that Undershaw was allowed to fall into such disrepair, with no proper security, open to the elements (weather and vandals) for many years. This then became a burden to the Council. A burden that they now want to get rid of in the easiest possible way.

With the selling price of Undershaw still being marketed at over a million pounds in its current state. Who would want to buy a property at that price and almost derelict? Who is to blame for its shameful condition? If the price had been right, it would have sold. Don't allow the excuse that nobody was interested in it, the price did not reflect its current condition and still doesn't. Lets hope that these educated ladies and gents make an educated decision on this, a decision that will ultimately gain their respect and votes for any future elections.

Here is the list of those councillor's that will make that ultimatum between our national heritage and modern day apartments: Councillor Peter Isherwood (Chairman), Councillor John Ward (Vice-Chairman), Councillor Mrs Jean Arrick, Councillor Jim Edwards, Councillor Simon Inchbald, Councillor David Inman, Councillor Mrs Carole King, Councillor Robert Knowles, Councillor Dr Nicky Lee, Councillor Stephen Mulliner, Councillor Steve Renshaw.

I wish to thank all those that have responded to the fliers that I posted through doors around the Hindhead area, your response has been gratefully received. The Undershaw Preservation Trust would like to thank you all personally through this blog.

I am in constant contact with the family and their architects who wish to purchase Undershaw as a single family home. I will be meeting them after Easter and as you can well appreciate this family wish to remain anonymous for the time being. The family are very well versed with restoring Victorian buildings for which they have restored 3 in their life time, the last one being a property in size of roughly 30,000 square feet which of course is almost 3 times the size of Undershaw.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Peter Egan and Philip Franks

Direct from their dressing rooms at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford, Peter Egan and Philip Franks who are currently starring in 'The Secret of Sherlock Holmes' have sent the following statement:

"We consider that this planning application should be refused on the grounds that it would destroy the iconic and historic identity of Undershaw where Conan Doyle, through the characters of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, wrote the return of the most famous and enduring ficticious partnership in literature.

Undershaw should not be divided by concrete into apartments, but should remain as one dwelling so that future generations can see how Conan Doyle lived through a traumatic and fruitful period of his creative life. We feel sure that Waverley and Haslemere would wish to retain Undershaw with at least some limited public access as a boost to the regeneration of Hindhead and tourism in the area".