Wednesday, 12 October 2011

The Jane Austen's House Museum

A meeting with Louise, Curator at the Jane Austen's House Museum in which several interesting points were raised at running a successful business. We learned much and took away with us several valid ideas and with the knowledge the Museum is fully behind us with their morale support in all our endeavours.

Out of this meeting, we have several avenues to follow up on.

The picture shows the original table where Jane Austen wrote her famous novels.

Hindhead Councillor - Christiaan Hesse

For the regeneration of Hindhead, Undershaw could play a very important part for tourism and education. Councillor Hesse who is mediator between the Trust and Waverley Borough Council agrees that Undershaw should be part of the regeneration plan and gave the following statement:

"As a local councillor representing Hindhead I am passionately concerned with the 'success' of Hindhead as a whole. There is no doubt that Undershaw could be a major part of the Hindhead 'brand' - after all who hasn't heard of Sherlock Holmes around the world? As such, Undershaw could significantly reinforce social, cultural economic factors in the Hindhead Regeneration plan. However, a funded plan must be found - in cooperation with the current owner - to find an alternative to the current development plan for which planning consent has been approved. This will break the existing building up and render the Conan Doyle/Sherlock Holmes link lost in the same way as has happened to other Hindhead buildings.

I admire the save Undershaw team and their aspiration and I support it wholeheartedly. They have worked extremely hard to and I am delighted to provide a bridge between The Undershaw Preservation Trust and Waverley Borough Council in order to improve cooperation in this endeavour . I wish them every success - but it all comes down to money. Concerned readers should get ready to put their hands in their pockets!"

The Tunnel Walk Through

Going back to our Undershaw Day on May 14th which we decided to run concurrently with the Hindhead Tunnel Walk Through which incidentally was a great success for the tunnel and Undershaw.

It was tremendous fun with a variety of reps and supporters giving their Saturday up to spread the word of UPT's work to some 7,000 visitors to the area.

Deerstalkers were provided by Guy Marriott (President of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London) and John Gibson, FRICS (Chairman of the Undershaw Preservation Trust) and were handed out to many the many walkers of the tunnel.

Our helpers were the jolly Marie, Kristina and Katherine (our rep for York) better known as our fabulous Baker Street Babes. Vicky (our rep for Haslemere (helped by members of her family). Supporters Linda Eades and Cassie Parkes. Our fabulous colleague and Trust member Sue Meadows and her family also did a grand job with spreading the word in Grayshott. Several visitors made the journey to Hindhead to soak up the fun and an opportunity to come along and say hello.


The Mayor of Haslemere

The recently appointed Mayor of Haslemere is Councillor Jim Edwards who incidentally was the only councillor who voted against the planning application for development. Councillor Edwards said at the meeting on the 9th June 2010 when he spoke out against the development:
"Undershaw has got tremendous historic importance and the local people are really against this development and I can understand why, it is over development and I know my learned friends have said they don't really believe what the Town Council say, but it really is a massive development in my opinion unacceptable". Here is a Councillor that spoke with the local people in mind. I know who I am voting for at the next election, don't you? Well done at becoming Mayor Cllr Edwards.

Undershaw Christmas Card

This is a sneak preview of our 2011 Christmas Card (the card has been purposely cropped to give it a that slight touch of mystery) which will be available in the next couple of weeks. You can purchase them in packs of 5 (all one design) for £10.00 per pack. Available from:

Designed by Jennifer Hunt from the USA who has indicated that she would be happy to oblige with next year's Christmas Card regardless of the outcome of the Judicial Review.

Who know's it could become a regular yearly project - I wonder if Jennifer is up for it?

The Hindhead Golf Club

Also in September I had the greatest of priviliges to meet and chat with British golfing champion, BBC broadcaster and presenter and golf course designer, Peter Alliss at a flag raising ceremony and black tie dinner in honour of Conan Doyle who founded the club in 1904 and was it's first president.

The Undershaw Preservation Trust was invited to put on a display of Conan Doyle's time in Hindhead.

Richard Doyle and his wife were guests of honour at the dinner. In the picture l to r Richard Doyle, Wing Commander Nigel Nugent (Club President), Jack Buchanan and Peter Alliss.

Our thanks to the Hindhead Golf Club for being so supportive with our efforts to Save Undershaw.

The British Library Publishes the Narrative of John Smith

It was quite an honour to be invited to the British Library at the end of September in celebration of the publication of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's new book: 'The Narrative of John Smith. There were several highlights to the evening, one being meeting the charming actor Robert Lindsay, and the other to view for the first time the original manuscript of the said book that Doyle wrote when he was in his early twenties.

It was a 'lost' first novel by Arthur Conan Doyle which the British Library published on 26th September 128 years after it was written.

The book's manuscript written in 4 black notebooks along with other documents was bought by the British Library for £1M. The 130 page work as now be transcribed and typeset for worldwide release to accompany an exhibition of Conan Doyle-abilia at the British Library.

Many years after writing the Narrative, Conan Doyle said he would be horrified if the book ever appeared in print.

Conan Doyle was living and working as a doctor in Portsmouth when he embarked on the novel in 1883. His father had been ill due to alcholism, and the 23 year old had to fund his mother and fund eduction for his 10 year old brother.

Doyle was frustrated by the Victorian practice of omitting the author's name especially when one of his works 'The Cornhill' was hailed as being by Robert Louis Stevenson's. For this reason, he attempted a novel, which would have his name on the front cover. Then came a major blow when the Narrative was lost in the post, never to be found again. Doyle then wrote the entire story again from memory the results being with the British Library today.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Our Apologies

My main reason for writing this post, is that I have been rather lapse of late in keeping you all up to date with my blog. I apologise for this and hope that you're all still following our efforts with keen interest.

The blog is an all too important record for the Undershaw Preservation Trust in that dates and happenings are all included here - a kind of diary for us.

Well, what have I done today? I am actually on holiday, but have decided to spend a little of that holiday dedicated to Undershaw. I have been in contact with the National Trust to ascertain as to what degree they support the campaign. I would like to see a meeting organised to include the NT and have put this to them in a telephone message.

I have also contacted Grayshott Archives to ask permission to include several of their old photo's of the Hindhead area on our website. The picture above is taken from the Petersfield Post (courtesy of Grayshott Archives) showing the Hindhead Crossroads. Undershaw was not built until 1897 and would have been situated behind the trees on the right.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Meeting with Hindhead Councillor Christiaan Hesse

The first of many meetings with our local new councillor Christiaan Hesse was held yesterday to discuss ways forward in our efforts to save Undershaw. Many realistic ideas were discussed which we hope will be followed up in the immediate future ahead of the Judicial Review (which incidentally we still await a date).

Replies to Comments

We're currently having problems answering comments in the correct way. Therefore we will answer them for now via this post until we can rectify the problem.

In reply to: MsO

"Thank you for your comment. We agree, you would have thought somebody somewhere with a passion for Doyle and Holmes would be interested in the building. After all, there has been a great deal of media attention which includes London TV, articles in the Times, Telegraph, Daily Mail, Independant and a front page slot in the LA Times. There is no doubt that this has generated substantial recognition, but obviously not enough. We intend to amp up the noise in the coming months".

Thursday, 30 June 2011

A National Disgrace

A recent walk found me at Undershaw, a grade II listed building which has lain derelict and in a shameful state for several years. Why have the owners and our local authorities been allowed to let this building of immense historical interest fall into such an embarassing state of repair?

Echoing our Patron's sentiments and we agree entirely; it's a national disgrace.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Our Song

A song entitled 'Arthur' written and sung by Caitlin Obom from the US has kindly donated it to the Undershaw Preservation Trust in a bid to raise awareness of Undershaw's importance to be preserved as a lasting tribute to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

The song, performed on Youtube, in time for the great man's birthday who was born on this day 152 years ago is a lovely ballad dedicated to the man himself.

You can listen to the song and view the video at the following link:
Enjoy and should you feel the need to leave a comment - then they'll be most welcomed.

Remember to check out our website at

Thank you to all those offering their voices of support to the cause.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Undershaw Preservation Day - 14th May 2011

Support our cause and wear something Sherlockian on this day whilst spreading the word to Save Undershaw.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

An Entirely New Country, Arthur Conan Doyle, Undershaw and the Resurrection of Sherlock Holmes

A few words from Alistair Duncan the author of a new book due for release in December this year.

"I just thought now would be a good time to give you all an update on my next book "An Entirely New Country". I also like to clear up some misconceptions about it.

Firstly, it is not a book about Undershaw per se. Instead the book looks at Conan Doyle's life both locally and nationally during the period he resided in his Hindhead home (1897 - 1907). In many respects I use the house as a chronological anchor more than anything else. You can expect events described that took place away from Undershaw as well as those that took place within it.

The decade that Conan Doyle resided in Undershaw was an eventful one both professionally and personally. He lost his first wife to tuberculosis and married his second. He resurrected Sherlock Holmes and saw the first serious stage dramatisation of his famous creation. He also stood twice for Parliament and spoke out both in person and through the press on a variety of local and national issues.

Inevitably, with a man as written about as Conan Doyle, you will find things in my book that you have read elsewhere. This problem has affected all of his biographers since Hesketh Pearson who wrote the earliest (that I know of) in the 1940's. However, I have done my best to present these facts from a different perspective and have thrown in a few new ones where I have been able to unearth them. I also indulge myself in a little speculation here and there about how events in Conan Doyle's life affected his writing and vice versa.

The book is currently going through the editing stage. This is where the first draft is checked for errors - both factual and typographical - and changes are suggested. These may cause whole new sections to be composed and some to be taken away. Rest assured though that we are on course for the launch date of December 5th 2011".

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Undershaw Postcards

The Undershaw Preservation Trust postcards are now being bid for on ebay. The cards depict 8 of the 12 coat of arms that appear in the larger of the heraldic windows at Undershaw. The main ACD card is signed by our Patron Mark Gatiss. All proceeds of the sale of these cards will help with our campaigning, printing, stationery and purchasing further merchandise.

The Undershaw Presevation Trust Pin Badges

Our pin badges are now on sale on ebay Please support our cause by purchasing yours today. Temporarily withdrawn from ebay, will reappear shortly.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Howard Burnham as Dr Watson

Several months ago, I was contacted by Thomas Ryan Ward from the US who kindly offered to volunteer to design the Undershaw Preservation Trust logo which he did and his most fabulous design is now used on all of our stationery and internet sites. He was also at the time going along to see Howard Burnham as Dr Watson. He approached Mr Burnham with the idea of capturing the talk on video for the UPT to show on their internet sites, for which Mr Burnham kindly agreed. We would like to thank Mr Howard Burnham for his marvellous talk and for agreeing to allow us to use these for this purpose.






Sunday, 13 February 2011

Our Patron's visit to Hindhead

The day was Friday 11th February and the weather may not have been good, but the rain stayed away long enough for us to trundle around the Hindhead area and speed off for lunch to a rather fitting location in Grayshott.

We met Mark in the Devil's Punchbowl Hotel, Undershaw's contemporary where he was given a lengthy spill by Mr Gibson of it's history, and there is an awful lot of history that goes with this great house. Mark was very attentive whilst John Gibson reeled off dates, events and names directly from the top of his head, where Mark showed great interest and passion towards his role as Patron and to the information that was being fed to him.

He felt sure that if we had been the owners of this house, monies could be raised through several of his ideas as fundraising schemes, but of course we don't own it and this is what changes the whole situation.

As far as the media attention is concerned I believe Mr Gatiss will promote the campaign wherever possible linking it to the next series of 'Sherlock'. He did a short interview for us which we may use as a possible press release or just for our benefit on the website and was happy enough to sign the 50 cards that will make up an 8 postcard set due for release to coincide with the Judicial Review. These will be auctioned off on e-bay. The content of the card is a close kept secret until their release.

The meeting was very successful and Mark is very much the gentleman that I had imagined him to be. Instantly you feel as though you have known him for years, feeling very relaxed in his company.

It was unfortunate but the meeting took most of our time and visits to Doyle's family graves had to be aborted until Mark's next visit.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Happy New Year

The Trust would like to wish all our supporters a very Happy New Year. We hope that 2011 will be the year for Undershaw.

Those of you following our efforts on this blog, please be aware that there is also our website and facebook page. You can access the facebook page from our website