Campaigners Call For Action Over Work Needed To Save Dorset Hall

Fears for historic former home of a Wimbledon suffragette

Dorset Hall scaffolding
Scaffolding goes up around Dorset Hall

Campaigners claim no real work has begun to save historic Dorset Hall in South Wimbledon since scaffolding was put up around the Grade II-listed Georgian building a month ago.

The landmark building in Kingston Road 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, had been empty and decaying for at least four years after the failure of a project to turn it into flats.

A 'Save Dorset Hall' campaign group was set up to fight to stop the building decaying further and eventually see it turned into a community space and “living monument” to Wimbledon’s place in the suffragette movement.

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.

But while the scaffolding has been erected, it is understood that the vital weather-proofing work has yet to begin.

Barbara Gorna, who is chair of the Dorset Hall Group, said: "Scaffolding has been up for over a month, yet it is still raining in causing further damage.

"Despite public pressure Clarion have made no public comment as to repairs they are prepared to undertake. The building has deteriorated under their watch, which arouses concerns about their contract to run Merton’s social housing stock long-term.

"We understand that a building firm has been engaged and reports written. But where is the urgency?"

However, the Dorset Hall Group has been given an extra three months - until September -to assess the house and raise money to purchase it.

Clarion Group has been approached for a comment.

  • 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.

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

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April 24, 2021