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Page last updated at 16:05 GMT, Monday, 8 March 2010
Saving Arthur Conan Doyle's Undershaw

Conan Doyle home under threat

Fans of the Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle want his former home Undershaw preserved for future generations.

Last year, BBC Surrey visited the Victorian Grade ll listed house in Hindhead to find out what had happened to the building since 2007, when it was boarded up by the local council.

Helouise Brown, Conservation Adviser for The Victorian Society said considering the importance of Conan Doyle to the nation the building should be in good use and open to the public.

The future of the house has been in doubt since 2004 when the hotel which occupied the building closed.

Little Switzerland

Having discovered his wife Louisa or "Touie" as she was known, had consumption and a prognosis of only months to live, Conan Doyle bought land in Hindhead.

In his novel "Arthur and George" author Julian Barnes wrote how "Touie's" illness prompted the building of Undershaw in 1897.

On the advice of his friend, local resident and tuberculosis sufferer, author Grant Allen, Conan Doyle built it in the hope the fresh air of the Surrey countryside would aid her recovery.

With the help of architect Joseph Henry Bell, the author designed the new family home with huge windows to let in healing sunlight.

In the late 19th century the area around Hindhead was known as "Little Switzerland" due to its alpine characteristics of clean air and fine views.

Sadly, they were not enough to save "Touie", and although she fought off the illness for another 10 years, she succumbed to it in 1906, at the age of 49.

Undershaw, home of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Conan Doyle was rumoured to have written one of his most famous works, The Hound of the Baskervilles at the house in 1902, while nursing his sick wife.

He would get up at six in the morning and write solidly until lunchtime, before asking his family for constructive criticism.

During his time as a resident in Hindhead, he also took on the role of Deputy Lieutenant of Surrey.

The family left Undershaw in 1907 and after a period as a private residence, the building was used as a hotel and restaurant.

It finally closed its doors to the outside world in 2004.

The Victorian Society told BBC Radio 4 that it is "a house where one of the best known authors in the English language wrote about one of the most recognisable fictional characters in history".

They say this is reason enough to preserve the house for the future.

The latest plan for Undershaw is for it to be split into three dwellings but campaigners want it saved as a single building.

Conan Doyle fans want home saved
08 Mar 10 |  Surrey
Flats likely for Conan Doyle home
25 Aug 09 |  Surrey
Urgent works at Conan Doyle home
16 May 07 |  Surrey
Conan Doyle listed building row
06 Feb 07 |  Surrey
Conan Doyle's life in London
08 Mar 10 |  People & Places



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