Historic home of famous Christian writer GK Chesterton threatened with demolition

British author Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874 - 1936). | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

A house in England where famed Christian thinker and writer G.K. Chesterton used to live could be demolished and replaced with apartments if it's not saved.

Octagon Developments, Ltd recently applied for permission to demolish the Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire home, known as Overroads. A decision about the property's future is expected later this month.

The Beaconsfield Society, the residents’ society formed in the 1960s with the goal of preserving the area’s past, told The Christian Post that "two applications have been submitted to the council" requesting permission to build on the site. 

"The first is for permission to build nine apartments,” the society said in an email to CP. “The second application is for approval to demolish the existing building or confirmation that the developer can go ahead and demolish without the requirement for prior approval to demolish.”

The society said they oppose the demolition, explaining to CP that they “would like to see the home preserved because it is of heritage importance.”

Dale Ahlquist, president of the United States-based Society of Gilbert Keith Chesterton and The Chesterton Schools Network, is also opposed to the demolition, with his organization actively campaigning to stop it.

In an interview with CP, Ahlquist said the “demolition of Chesterton’s home would be a tragedy for England’s cultural heritage” and “an insult to Chesterton’s devotees around the world.”

“We have helped organize a letter-writing campaign to the commissioners who will be making the decision on the proposed re-development of the property,” he said.

“Letters opposing the destruction of Overroads have come from authors, scholars, politicians, and religious figures.”

Born in London in 1874, Chesterton was a prolific writer, having written hundreds of poems, approximately 200 short stories, more than 4,000 news articles, and around 100 books.

One of Chesterton’s books, titled The Everlasting Man, was believed to have helped inspire a young C.S. Lewis to convert to Christianity.

“I can see the fingerprints of Chesterton all over Lewis’s books,” wrote Trevin Wax, visiting professor at Wheaton College, in a 2016 essay for The Gospel Coalition. “Like Lewis, I have fallen for Chesterton.”

“I love how he crossed the lines of literature and gave us poems, essays, plays, detective stories, novels, and apologetic works. No one but Chesterton serves up so many insights that stretch and spin my mind.”

Chesterton and his wife moved into Overroads in 1909 and lived there until 1922, when the family moved to the nearby home known as Top Meadow, where he lived until his death in 1936.   

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