Campaigners have tried desperately hard to alter the status of Undershaw from Grade II listed to Grade I but were unsuccessful in 2007 when Tessa Jowel the then Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, refused its change of status and in a report in the Guardian said:
"I share your admiration for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (In praise of .... February 8th), but I disagree with those campaigning for Undershaw, his home for just 10 years, to be grade I listed. This was not the place where Sherlock Holmes was created, nor where his final stories were written. It is, in fact, an unremarkable late-19th-century domestic house with a later extension and with many of the internal features long gone. I accept the advice from English Heritage that it is part of our literary history and that's why it is listed at grade II. The building most closely associated with Holmes is 221b Baker Street. I would be only too pleased to consder listing that building Grade I should such a request come forward".
Did Tessa Jowell make the right decision or in doing so did she sign away a life line for Undershaw?
In an article in the Psychic News dated 20th June 2009 in an article on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and a reply to Tessa Jowell's actions the following was published:
"It was quite disgraceful that in 2007 the then Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Tessa Jowell, turned down a bid by the Victorian Society to award the house listed status. Ms Jowell thereby consigned it to an uncertain future, perhaps even demolition, to make way for speculative housing. The spurious excuse offered was that it was not of sufficient literary importance. Camparisons were made with the revered domiciles of Jane Austen, the Brontes and other authors. These writers were important in their time, and deserve the appropriate recognition, but the years, and therefore cultural values, move on. We now have modern authors equally deserving, one of whom is surely Sir Arthur Conan Doyle".
Will our new campaign to save this building have better luck or will we lose Undershaw to speculative housing! Has its fate already been decided or can we turn things around to prevent the loss of our heritage?