In 1907, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle moved to Windlesham on the outskirts of Crowborough in East Sussex.
Windlesham Manor History
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Happy Life at Windlesham
His happy life at Windlesham can be summed up by the following quote from John Dickson Carr’s ‘The Life of Sherlock Holmes’:
“Windlesham, set in the then lonely open country which stretched from Crowborough Beacon to the Sussex Downs, had been greatly changed and enlarged from the modest country-house he bought before his marriage. … From far away you could see Windlesham, with its five gables, its grey-painted shingles and white window-frames, its red roof-tiles and red chimney stacks …
Above all in their minds at Windlesham, then as afterwards, was the great billiard-room which came to be filled with so many memories. This billiard-room ran the full breadth of the house, east to west, with a wall of windows at each end. A hundred and fifty couples could dance there when the rugs were cleared away. Conan Doyle had it built into the house as their living-room, the centre of their lives. At one end, amid palms, stood Jean's grand piano and the harp. At the other end was his billiard-table, under the muffled green canopy of the table-lights. … Over one fireplace hung the Van Dyck … over the other was a stag's head he had brought back from the Boer War. Round the walls, blue-papered, ran a frieze of Napoleonic weapons. His own portrait, by Sidney Paget, hung among them”
A spiritualist burial
Sir Arthur died of heart failure in July 1930, and was originally buried upright in the garden at Windlesham, apparently in concordance with his spiritualist wishes. On his oaken headstone were his name, date of birth, and four words: ‘Steel true, blade straight’. In July 1955, both Sir Arthur and Lady Jean were exhumed from Windlesham, and laid to rest at Minstead church in the New Forest.
Today, the house retains the country house ambience and happy, relaxed atmosphere that Sir Arthur so loved.
The home of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Windlesham Manor is an impressive Edwardian country house, where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle spent the final 23 years of his life living happily with his wife, Lady Jean, and family.
Sir Arthur wrote many stories whilst living at Windlesham, including many from the Sherlock Holmes and Professor Challenger series. Indeed, ‘The Poison Belt’ contains a passage said to be based on the view from his first-floor study window, and his writings contain many descriptions of views across the South Downs and the Sussex Weald. Famous guests included H.G.Wells, Rudyard Kipling, Lord Kitchener and Sir Edward Marshall Hall. He also further developed his spiritualist beliefs, and published ‘The History of Spiritualism’ whilst at Windlesham.
He was a committed member of the local community, including being the local golf club captain, a Private within the 5th Volunteer Battalion of the Royal Sussex Reserve, helped to form the Civilian National Reserve in Crowborough, and was involved with the local boy scouts, with whom he was famous for setting challenges.