16th September 2016

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s former home opens following restoration and redevelopment

Thomasons is proud to be part of the team which restored and redeveloped Undershaw, the former house of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in Hindhead, Surrey, into the new home for Stepping Stones, a specialist school for young people with disabilities.

Building work is now complete and Undershaw was officially opened on 9th September by Jeremy Hunt, MP for Haslemere and Secretary of State for Health.

Undershaw is a Grade II listed building built in 1896, where Conan Doyle penned some of his most famous works. It was later used as a hotel and had been vacant for a decade before being bought by the David Forbes-Nixon Foundation for Stepping Stones.


Thomasons engineers were responsible for the structural and civil design on this project, which took two years. Many of the young people at Stepping Stones are severely disabled and the school has been carefully designed to make their surroundings as comfortable as possible. Every aspect has been considered, from the width of the corridors to the lighting.

The house has also been painstakingly restored to its original historical design. Partition walls installed for the hotel have been removed, fireplaces restored and walls, ceilings and floors repaired using traditional techniques. Unique features such as stained glass windows have been restored and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s old study has been faithfully re-created.

A 1930s kitchen extension in the main house has been demolished and replaced with a cafe and catering hospitality area.

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Thomasons designed a modern steel-framed extension, with a glass link to the original building, to house a performance hall, hydrotherapy pool and classrooms. The extension is set at an angle to the main house in order to maximise natural light and its roof echoes the house’s original gabled roofline while incorporating photovoltaic cells for sustainability.

The lawned terrace in front of the house has been restored and engineers have installed sustainable surface water attenuation and soakage systems. To maximise the space, the design cleverly incorporates the sloping site, paying meticulous attention to earth retaining structures and foundations.