Rescuing a Grade II listed piece of literary history
— 20 Apr 2023
In 2010, Jonathan Rhind Architects worked alongside The Victorian Society and The Undershaw Preservation Trust in a bid to preserve the former residence of Sherlock Holmes writer, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. With our experience in historic building conservation, Jonathan Rhind Architects were approached to achieve planning permissions for Change of Use and for conservation works to the property.
Undershaw, in Hindhead, Surrey, was designed by Joseph Henry Bell for Doyle in 1897 as an idyllic countryside retreat where he could care for his wife, Touie, who suffered (and would ultimately die) from Tuberculosis. Whilst living at Undershaw, Doyle wrote many of the Sherlock Holmes novels; including The Hound of the Baskervilles.
Following his wife’s death, Doyle relocated and the property became a hotel which was in continued use until 2004.
After the hotel closed, Undershaw was left abandoned and neglected for many years. Eventually, a developer sought to subdivide the property into eight dwellings which would destroy much of the character and significance of the Grade II listed building.
Jonathan Rhind Architects secured consent for a Change of Use and general restoration of the property to its former single dwelling status. This formal approval aided an appeal against the council decision to permit the developer proposals. Following a High Court ruling, the developer proposals were quashed and Undershaw was spared irreversible damage. Jonathan Rhind Architects were proud to have played their part in conserving an important part of British literary history.
The story picks up again in 2014 when the site was purchased by the DFN Charitable Foundation. After securing planning approval, with the blessing of the Undershaw Preservation Trust, Undershaw was entirely restored and a new facility established there as a school for children with special needs. The school opened in 2016 and has been run successfully ever since to the great benefit of the students and the local community.
Jonathan Rhind Architect wishes to congratulate the DFN Foundation and all involved in bringing Undershaw beautifully back to life and for ensuring Doyle’s legacy continues through the fantastic school that has been created there.