Work Begins To Save Historic Dorset Hall From Ruin

Former home of a Wimbledon suffragette will be safe from the elements

Dorset Hall scaffolding
Scaffolding goes up around Dorset Hall

Scaffolding has gone up around historic Dorset Hall in South Wimbledon as work begins on the roof to make the Grade II-listed Georgian building watertight.

Campaigners are hoping to save the building in Kingston Road and see it turned into a community space and “living monument” to Wimbledon’s place in the suffragette movement.

It was the former home of Rose Lamartine Yates, one of the early pioneers of the Suffragette Movement, who moved there with her husband Tom in 1909.

But the building, owned by housing association Clarion Housing, has been empty and decaying for at least four years after the failure of a project to turn it into flats.

Since women’s rights campaigner Barbara Gorna recently set up the ‘Save Dorset Hall’ campaign, the project has won cross-party support from local politicians and Clarion has started on the weather-proofing works.

She said: “I am pleased to say that Wimbledon’s Conservative MP Stephen Hammond, Paul Kohler of the Lib Dems and Jackie Schneider of Labour have all pledged their support for our cause.

“To date, it has been a tough fight to get a commitment from Clarion, the owners of the building, to make urgent repairs that will prevent Dorset Hall deteriorating irretrievably. It is a relief that scaffolding has now gone up to halt leaks through the roof.

“Our next step is to work with heritage experts to help with restoration of the inside of the building which has suffered water ingress.”

It is thought the external works to weather-proof the building will go on into April.

Barbara is chair of the Dorset Hall Group, which has until June to assess the house and raise money to purchase it.

She has detailed on her blog how Rose became secretary of the Wimbledon Branch of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) in the same year she moved to Dorset Hall, and made Wimbledon Common her platform for speeches on the need for the vote to improve women’s lives.

Dorset Hall became a hub of the women’ suffrage movement and a place of refuge for many leading suffragettes. Emily Wilding Davidson, who was trampled under the King’s horse at Epsom in 1913, was a frequent visitor and a friend of Rose Yates.

Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond tweeted: “Here in Wimbledon, Dorset Hall was the home of leading suffragette, Rose Lamartine Yates. I am proud to support the campaign to restore and preserve Dorset Hall.

Labour’s Jackie Schneider said: “Please follow @SaveDorsetHall - women like Rose are written out of history. She is without doubt Wimbledon most significant historical figure. Shameful she has no tributes or even a plaque.

“I shall be waving the flag for Rose Lamartine Yates to celebrate #InternationalWomenDay @SaveDorsetHall - we need to save her home and put up a memorial in Wimbledon."

For the Lib Dems, Councillor Paul Kohler said: “I was recently approached by @SaveDorsetHall to help in their campaign to save this important part of our heritage. I'm delighted Clarion Group have now promised to commence work and hope you'll sign our petition to ensure Dorset Hall's long-term future.”

Clarion Group has been approached for a comment.

Dorset Hall in suffragette coloursDorset Hall in suffragette colours to mark the recent International Women's Day

Rose in Dorset Hall garden
Rose Lamartine Yates is pictured speaking in the garden of Dorset Hall

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March 13, 2021