Events sometimes take place in a country that are of little interest to those abroad. Conversely there are others that people worldwide take notice of either in admiration or horror. One example of the latter is the slow disintegration of the house known as Undershaw in Hindhead, Surrey.
If, by some chance, you are ignorant of what Undershaw is, it is the house that was home to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle from 1897 to 1907. He helped to design it and under its roof many of his important works were produced. Notably, it was in this house that he resurrected Sherlock Holmes from his watery grave.
Sherlock Holmes and, by extension, his creator have not enjoyed such fame as they do today since they first came to public attention in the 1890s. People throughout the world (and this is no exaggeration) are in love with Sherlock Holmes and John Watson and consequently they are currently looking on in horror (mixed with contempt) as the local powers propose sanctioning the desecration of Sherlock’s place of re-birth.
Make no mistake. If someone proposed bulldozing or “redeveloping” the home of Jane Austen or Charles Dickens there would be uproar. Yet we, as a nation, appear to be standing by while the one-time home of one of our literary giants is carved up for profit. It seems to me sometimes as if we, collectively, have the attitude that we have so much history that we can afford to lose some. It is odd the way that nations with the least history guard it well and those with the most seem almost cavalier with it.
Now perhaps you don’t like Sherlock Holmes, perhaps you don’t care about literary heritage. Fair enough that’s up to you but you should at least care about the precedent. Perhaps right now what is at stake is something you don’t care about but one day it will be. If you’re sporty perhaps someone will want to bulldoze an old football stadium where a famous fixture took place. If you’re religious it could be a former place of worship. Believe me, when it is something you care about you will realise how important it is to stand in the way of those who would destroy our history for financial gain.
The latest (and perhaps last) round in the battle for Undershaw is being fought on May 23rd 2012 at the High Court. Spread the word, give your support in any way that you can and perhaps we can make the powers that be all too aware of the impact of what they are doing. Then maybe, just maybe, they will step back from cliff-edge.