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Accueil » Toutes les news » Une lettre publiée par le Times pour sauver Undershaw
Thierry Saint-Joanis
Une lettre publiée par le Times pour sauver Undershaw
Undershaw: the Times letter
Juillet 31, 2010

Undershaw, l'ancienne demeure de Sir Arthur Conan Doyle à Hindhead, est en danger. Un projet immobilier prévoit de la transformer en appartements, détruisant ainsi tout l'héritage associé à l'auteur. Ce matin, à l'initiative de Paul Spiring, auteur spécialiste de Conan Doyle, une lettre signée par une cinquantaine de personnalités holmésiennes du monde entier a été publiée par le quotidien The Times.

Les articles du Times
» Campaigners fight to save Conan Doyle's home from developers
» Conan Doyle and the barbarians
» Conan Doyle and the barbarians (avec la liste des signataires)
» Holmes is a study in the genius of amateurs

La lettre :

Sir - We the undersigned call upon Mr. Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Culture, to review the recent decision by Waverley Borough Council to permit the redevelopment of ‘Undershaw’ by Fossway Limited.

‘Undershaw’ was built at Hindhead in Surrey for the British writer, Arthur Conan Doyle. During the period of his residency there, he wrote many of his most important works including ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ and he also received many notable guests including Bram Stoker and J.M Barrie. The house is unique in that it remains one of the few examples of a literary home that was actually built to the writer's own ideas and design.

As the constituency MP for Hindhead, Mr. Hunt is no doubt aware that ‘Undershaw’ has been neglected since it was purchased by Fossway in 2004. The building has no security, little water-proofing and a number of the heraldic stained-glass windows have been broken. In 2008, Waverley Borough Council served a repair notice on Fossway but they failed to serve a compulsory purchase order, as is usual when a Grade-II listed building is left derelict by its owners.

Recently, Waverley Borough Council approved a planning application by Fossway to redevelop ‘Undershaw’. However, these plans are insensitive because they entail the loss of Conan Doyle’s billiards room, stables, garage, and his brick-lined well. These same plans have also inflated the value of ‘Undershaw’ and thereby undermined the efforts of the ‘Undershaw Preservation Trust’ to have it converted into a hotel complex with open public access.

Before the last General Election, Mr Hunt indicated that he himself would support a change of listing to ‘Undershaw’ in order to afford it better protection. Hence, we trust that he is now willing to work closely with Mrs Mary Orton, the Chief Executive of Waverley Borough Council, to find a more acceptable solution to the preservation of ‘Undershaw’.

Yours sincerely,

Sir Christopher Frayling (ex-Rector Royal College of Art and Member of the Baker Street Irregular's).
William Roache, MBE (Actor & Winner of ‘British Soap Awards Lifetime Achievement Award’).
Edward Hardwicke (Film & TV Actor: ‘Colditz’ & ‘The Return of Sherlock Holmes’ series).
Gyles Brandreth (Author, Broadcaster & Former Conservative Member of Parliament).
Uri Geller (Paranormalist & Entertainer).
Robert Daws (Actor: 'Jeeves and Wooster' and 'The Secret of Sherlock Holmes').
Peter Egan (Actor: 'Ever Decreasing Circles' & 'The Secret of Sherlock Holmes').
Philip Franks (Actor: 'The Darling Buds of May', ‘Heartbeat’ & 'The Secret of Sherlock Holmes').
Roger Llewellyn (Actor: ‘Sherlock Holmes - The Last Act!’ & ‘Sherlock Holmes - The Death and Life’).
Mark McGann (Actor, Songwriter, Director and two-time ‘Olivier Awards’ nominee).
Robin Herford  (Theatre Director & Director of 'The Woman in Black' & 'Secret of Sherlock Holmes').
Jon Lellenberg & Daniel Stashower (Co-Editors of ‘Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters’).
Bill Barnes (President of The Sherlock Holmes Society of Australia).
Dr. Sadru Bhanji (Author, Historian & Former Lecturer at Exeter University).
Peter Calamai (Journalist & Adjunct Professor, Carleton School of Journalism: Ottawa, Canada).
Joshua Conan Doyle (Great Great Nephew of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle).
Oliver Conan Doyle (Great Great Nephew of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle).
Philip Cornell (Artist & Vice President of The Sherlock Holmes Society of Australia).
Jane Doyle (Spouse of the Great Nephew of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle).
Richard Doyle (Great Nephew of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle).
Alistair Duncan (Author).
Steve Emecz (Author & Publisher).
Dr. Amanda J. Field (Author).
Lynn Gale (Assistant Director of 'The Undershaw Preservation Trust').
John Gibson (Author & Recipient of the ‘Edgar Allan Poe Special Edgars Award’).
Dr. Yuichi Hirayama (Author & Editor of 'The Shoso-in Bulletin': Tokyo, Japan).
Roger Johnson (Editor of ‘The Sherlock Holmes Journal’: London).
Aleš Kolodrubec (Founder & President of the Czech Society of Sherlock Holmes).
Leslie S. Klinger (Author, Editor & Recipient of the ‘Edgar Award for Best Critical/Biographical Work’).
David Lewis (Lecturer, Historian & Officer of The Sherlock Holmes Society of Australia).
Guy Marriott (President of The Sherlock Holmes Society of London).
Olaf Maurer (Publisher & Chairman of the Deutsche Sherlock-Holmes-Gesellschaft).
Rafe McGregor (Novelist).
Russell Miller (Author & Award Winning Journalist).
Edwin R. Nye (Editor of the ‘Antipodean Society Newsletter’: Dunedin, New Zealand).
Jeremy Paul (Playwright & Screenwriter).
Miguel Ojeda Peral (Vice-President of the Círculo Holmes, Asociación Cultural: Spain).
Brian W. Pugh (Author & Curator of The Conan Doyle [Crowborough] Establishment).
Shirley Purves (Former Chairman of The Sherlock Holmes Society of London).
Professor B. J. Rahn (Former Lecturer of English Literature: Hunter College, New York City).
Michael Ross (Author, Translator & Bookseller: Cologne, Germany).
Oscar Ross (Hon. Secretary of Northern Ireland's Sherlock Holmes Society).
Steven Rothman (Editor of 'The Baker Street Journal': USA).
Thierry Saint-Joanis (Founder & President of the Sherlock Holmes Society of France).
Gianluca Salvatori (Founder of La lega dei Presidenti & Past President of Uno Studio in Holmes: Italy).
Daniel Smith (Author).
Paul Spiring (Author & Hon. Member of the Sherlock Holmes Society of France: Karlsruhe, Germany).
Dr. Robert J. Stek (University of Arizona & Member of the Baker Street Irregulars).
Dr. Roger Straughan (Author & Former Reader in Education: University of Reading).
Nick Utechin (Former Radio 4 producer & Hon. Member of the Sherlock Holmes Society London).
Michael F. Whelan (Chairman of the Baker Street Irregulars: USA).
J. Douglas Wrigglesworth (Chairman Emeritus of the Friends of the Arthur Conan Doyle Collection of the Toronto Public Library: Canada).



Undershaw: A Case of "Wanton Vandalism"

Sadly, Waverley Borough Council has approved a planning application that seeks to convert 'Undershaw' into a modern appartment complex.  This property was originally built for Arthur Conan Doyle and he lived there between October 1897 and August 1907. During that period, Conan Doyle entertained many notable house guests including Sidney Paget, E.W. Hornung, J.M. Barrie, Thomas Wemyss Reid, William Gillette, Gordon Guggisberg, Churton Collins and Bram Stoker.  He also wrote some of his most important works whilst living there including The Great Boer War, The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Adventures of Gerard, The Return of Sherlock Holmes and Sir Nigel.

Conan-Doyle descendants upset at Undershaw plan

By Joanna Till
June 10, 2010

SIR Arthur Conan Doyle’s former Hindhead home is to be turned into flats, despite 213 letters of objection, three petitions containing 1,147 signatures and only one letter of support.

Permission for the redevelopment of Undershaw - subject to conditions - was granted on Wednesday night, following a high-profile opposition campaign backed by big names including writers Stephen Fry and Sir Christopher Frayling and actor William Roache MBE.

Members of Waverley Borough Council’s southern planning committee said they had to be "pragmatic and unemotional", and make their decision based on planning merit alone.

Only one councillor voted against the proposals, while application for Listed Building consent for the work was waved through unanimously.

Members of the packed public gallery - which included campaigners in Victorian dress and Sherlock Holmes outfits, plus Conan Doyle’s six and nine-year-old great-great nephews - were in tears following the majority decision.

The Grade-II listed Victorian property will now be split into three flats, a new three-storey wing comprising five townhouses will be built, the stable block will be converted into garages and a pavilion for visitors will be constructed.

“Not nearly enough attention is given in the officers’ report to the vast, almost unprecedented swell of objections,” John Gibson, a retired chartered surveyor and the director of the Undershaw Preservation Trust, told the meeting.

“They say those nearest to the object often do not appreciate what they have until it is gone.

"If this is allowed to proceed it will be irreversible, and the character and integrity gone, and with it all public access.”

"Architectural distinction"

Jason Clemons, a partner at the D&M Planning Partnership, spoke in support of the application, telling councillors the development was "entirely appropriate" to ensure the long-term conservation of Undershaw.

(photo: Lynn Gale of the Undershaw Preservation Trust with Rupert Sheard, dressed as Sherlock Holmes)

“The proposed use maintains the domestic character and appearance of the building and its setting,” he added.

“In addition, however, it also replaces an unsympathetic extension with a building which is considered by officers to be of architectural distinction.”

Cllr David Inman, who represents Chiddingfold and Dunsfold on Waverley, said: “There have been numerous objections that are not based on planning matters.

“Doubtless they are heartfelt, but this application must be judged only on its merit. We must be pragmatic.”

Cllr Jim Edwards, a member for Haslemere, Critchmere and Shottermill, was the only councillor to vote against the planning officers’ recommendations.

“This house has got tremendous historical importance,” he said.

“This is a massive development, and quite unacceptable in my view.”

"History lost"

Among the objectors were the Victorian Society and members of Haslemere Town Council.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, the MP for South West Surrey, said he would support a change of listing to afford the building better protection, and Stephen Fry described the proposal as a foolish, short-sighted and wanton act of vandalism.

Speaking after the meeting, Conan Doyle’s great-nephew Richard Doyle, who lives in Boyatt Wood in Hampshire with his wife and two sons, said he was desperately disappointed. Joshua, nine, and Oliver, six, were both left upset by the news.

“It is just such a shame that all that history will be lost forever,” he said.

“The family had been trying to come up with ways of buying it, but the price was so high we could not afford it.

“We just wish there was something we could do.”


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