Last Updated on 8 March 2023
Dorset Hall, the Grade II listed Georgian House on Kingston Road, was the home of local suffragette Rose Lamartine Yates in the early twentieth century but had fallen into disrepair.
In August 2022 Barbara Gorna, Chair of Dorset Hall Group (DHG), said:
“It was quite extraordinary going through the door of Dorset Hall, 18 months after we discovered this somewhat decrepit old lady of a house and decided to fight for her. Let’s be honest, it’s been quite a fight.”
Access was granted by Clarion to take a look inside Dorset Hall.
The Dorset Hall Group and Clarion are keen to find a sustainable future for both house and site, an important political building. To that end Dorset Hall Group working with the National Trust and Clarion have consulted widely within the Borough with local organisations. The National Trust were instructed to carry out an Options Appraisal and this is now complete. This provides a comprehensive and detailed assessment of the condition of the building and future costs of preservation. During the survey, a rare plaster ceiling built around 1743 was discovered and details of it are now on the Historic England listing . The ceiling is in need of restoration as it was divided in two when Merton Council allocated the building as single men’s housing.
Paul Quinn, Director of Regeneration, from Clarion said:
“Clarion is looking forward to working with the National Trust and local Merton community groups to help determine the future of Dorset Hall.”
Councillor Edward Foley of Merton Park said:
“I’m delighted to support the efforts of the Dorset Hall Group together with their partners to save and restore such an important house in Merton Park. This house has a rich history, as it was lived in by Rose Lamartine Yates, the suffragette and social rights campaigner. It’s sad that the house has been left neglected for so many years and it is time the house was sympathetically restored and no longer forgotten.”
DHG has now completed its work having raised altogether over £730,000, around 50% of which was the cost of the roof repair and partial replacement, borne by Clarion. The remaining costs were Synergy Quantity Surveyors; TGMI business consultant for sustainability; services of the National Trust project manager for a year; If Do architects; Stace, building condition; Stretton, valuation and more.
A documentary film , ‘The Dark Horse of Suffragettes’, which currently has 10 international film awards, tells the story the rediscovery of Dorset Hall.
DHG now believe that the time has come to handover decisions on Dorset Hall’s future to Merton.
Councillor Edward Foley of Merton Park says:
“We are absolutely delighted with the tremendous work that Dorset Hall Group has achieved in the last 2 1/2 years. Merton Park Councillors support the project and will work together with the Council and Clarion and hope to find a sustainable plan for the building that reflects its important political past”.
And Paul Quinn, Director of Regeneration, at Clarion says:
“Clarion welcomes the opportunity to work with Merton Park Ward’s Councillors and the local community in bringing Dorset Hall back to life. Dorset Hall has played an important role in the life of Merton Park for many years, and by working together to secure its future we hope to give it many more years of useful life.”
For more about the history of the Hall that was the home of a pioneering suffragette read Time and Leisure’s piece ‘The History of Dorset Hall in Wimbledon’