Undershaw in Hindhead, Surrey, United Kingdom, is the former residence of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his family. A fine example of Edwardian architecture, it was built in 1897 in an era when few houses were actually designed by the occupier.
Here he wrote ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ and ‘The Return of Sherlock Holmes’ and entertained many notable people, including Bram Stoker, the author of ‘Dracula’, J M Barrie, the creator of ‘Peter Pan’, and the young Virginia Wolfe.
‘Undershaw’ was built by Conan Doyle so that his invalid wife Louise, who was suffering from tuberculosis, could benefit from Hindhead’s healthy microclimate and glorious views down the Nutcombe Valley to the South Downs. Nestling in its three acre plot, Doyle himself drafted the first designs of the house, before passing them on to architect and friend Joseph Henry Ball to complete. Doyle had many inspired ideas for his family’s new home, especially the installation of an electric plant (somewhat a rarity in those days) and a magnificent railway in the grounds that proved a constant joy to his children.
Today, Undershaw stands sorrowfully empty, neglected and vandalised, Waverley Borough Council having granted the owners planning permission to carve up the literary, historic house into three flats, with five more homes built on its side. Modern town houses ….or maintained as the single dwelling that Conan Doyle designed and had built? The Undershaw Preservation Trust is vigorously working towards the latter.
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