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.