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Save Conan Doyle’s last building from demolition

The only surviving building designed by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle could be demolished for new residential units if a planning application gets consent.

Lyndhurst Park Hotel southern view of East wing post-1912 Doyle extension © Brice Stratford

Best known for his creation of world famous detective Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle was also particularly interested in architecture: he collaborated with architect and friend Joseph Henry Ball over the design and construction of his family home, Underhill in Surrey, and even designed a golf course and outbuildings for a ‘million dollar hotel’ in Canada’s Jasper National Park, now sadly demolished.

The former Lyndhurst Park Hotel in the New Forest currently stands as the only remaining building designed by Arthur Conan Doyle. Originally built as an early 19th century mansion known as ‘Glasshayes House’, the building was sold off and converted into a hotel in 1895. Archive material shows Conan Doyle visiting the hotel with his family in early 1912, and by autumn that same year the hotel had been transformed with an entire third floor extension and new façade, all designed by Conan Doyle.

The ambitious redesign transformed the building into what you see today; the building as it currently stands is a near perfect expression of Doyle’s plans, though as it has been left empty since 2014 it is beginning to show signs of dereliction and vandal damage.

Despite the unique historic significance of the building, it is unlisted (though several listing applications have been made) and therefore unprotected against demolition, a threat that has become imminent with the submission of a planning application which seeks to demolish the entire site.

The current owners, developers PegasusLife, have previously applied to demolish the building but their application was rejected earlier this year. They have now come back with a new application, and in the meantime have failed to secure the building, which was operating as a working hotel prior to their purchase in 2014.

Time is swiftly running out for Glasshayes House, and the risk that it may be lost forever to be replaced with a run-of-the-mill block of flats is becoming ever more real. Previous applications for listing were undertaken without the knowledge of the Conan Doyle connection, which has now been added to a new application.

Tom Taylor, Conservation Adviser at the Victorian Society, says: “It is now of paramount importance that the building be reconsidered for listing, as that would offer it valuable protection against demolition and insensitive redevelopment. The fact that Glasshayes House is thought to be the last remaining building designed by Arthur Conan Doyle makes it unique, and therefore highly historically significant and certainly worthy of reassessment.” 

-end- 


NOTES

1)      Brice Stratford discovered the connection between Arthur Conan Doyle and Glasshayes House and conducted extensive research into his design of the hotel.

2)      The latest application to Historic England for listing was submitted on Wednesday 13th September 2017. It’s for “Glasshayes House, Lyndhurst, the New Forest” and the reference number is 1450623.

3)      The planning application for the total demolition and redevelopment of the property was registered on Wednesday 13th September 2017. The reference code is 17/00732 and can be viewed and commented on here

Thursday 21 September

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