Just 15 miles southwest of London, Epsom is steeped in history, from the world famous Epsom Salts to Epsom Downs, home of The Derby. With its landmark, imposing clock tower and heritage buildings round every corner.
The name of Epsom is early recorded as forms of Ebba’s ham (home). Ebba was a Saxon landowner. Many Spring line settlements by springs in Anglo-Saxon England were founded at the foot of dry valleys such as Epsom. A relic from this period is a 7th-century brooch found in Epsom and now in the British Museum.
Chertsey Abbey, whose ownership of the main manor of Ebbisham was confirmed by King Æthelstan in 933, asserted during its Middle Ages existence that Frithwald and Bishop Erkenwald granted it 20 mansas of land in Epsom in 727. Epsom appears in Domesday Book of 1086 as Evesham, held by Chertsey Abbey. Its domesday assets were: 11 hides; 2 churches, 2 mills worth 10 shillings, 18 ploughs, 24 acres of meadow, woodland worth 20 hogs; altogether it rendered £17 per year to its overlords. The town at the time of Domesday Book had 38 households (and 6 serfs noteworthy enough to be recorded as assets), some of them in a nucleated village near the parish church of which there were two. At various dates in the Middle Ages, manors were founded by subinfeudation at Epsom Court, Horton, Woodcote, Brettgrave and Langley Vale.
By the end of the Georgian period, Epsom was known as a spa town. Remnants of this are its water pump and multiple exhibits in the town’s museum. There were entertainments at the Assembly Rooms (built c. 1690 and now a pub). A green-buffered housing estate has now been built upon the wells in the south-west of the town.
Epsom salts are named after the town. Epsom salt (magnesium sulphate) was originally prepared by boiling down mineral waters which sprung at Epsom. The town’s market is built on the pond that existed in the Middle Ages. For more Information on the History of Epsom Salts click here During this period visitors to Epsom would include King Charles II, Samuel Pepys, Nell Gwyn and later on artists such us Constable and Millais would visit the area.
Epsom Clock Tower
Epsom Clock Tower was built in 1847, replacing the watch house which stood from the 17th century, and was built to 70 feet of red and suffolk brick, with heraldic lions of Caen Stone at the four corners of the tower base. A bell was added in 1867. By 1902 the lions had been replaced by lanterns, (which were replaced by the current globe lights in 1920) and the toilet buildings added either side of the tower.
Epsom Downs Racecourse
Within the centuries-old boundaries is Epsom Downs Racecourse which features two of the five English Classic horse races; The Derby and The Oaks, which were first run in 1780 and 1779 respectively. On 4 June 1913, Emily Davison, a militant women’s suffrage activist, stepped in front of King George V’s horse running in the Derby, sustaining fatal injuries. For more on the history of The Derby click here.
The British Prime Minister and first chairman of the London County Council, Lord Rosebery, was sent down (expelled) from the University of Oxford in 1869 for buying a racehorse and entering it in the Derby − it finished last. Lord Rosebery remained closely associated with the town throughout his life, leaving land to the borough, commemorated in the names of several roads, Rosebery Park and Rosebery School. A house was also named after him at Epsom College, one of Britain’s public schools in Epsom.
Best Place to Live
Owing partly to its position and transport infrastructure in the London commuter belt allowing easy access to the Greater London conurbation to the north and the rolling Surrey countryside to the south, the borough of Epsom and Ewell was named in August 2005 by Channel 4’s Location, Location, Location as the “Best Place to Live” in the United Kingdom, and ranked at numbers 8 and 3 in subsequent years.
The Epsom Playhouse was opened in 1984 and is run by Epsom and Ewell Borough council. The Ashley Centre, was officially opened by Her Majesty The Queen in October 1984. The Centre’s developers were tasked with creating a modern and exciting shopping environment, which merged with the historic fabric of the town. Over 30 years on, The Ashley Centre remains the premier shopping destination in the heart of Epsom.
The late 1990s saw the development of the Ebbisham Centre (not to be confused with the nearby early-18th-century Ebbisham House), a community service based development, including a doctors’ surgery, Epsom Library and a café and includes a number of eating and drinking establishments the square was later renamed Epsom Square.
The University for the Creative Arts has one of its four main campuses in Epsom. Laine Theatre Arts, an independent performing arts college, is based in the town. Students have included Victoria Beckham, Ruthie Henshall and Sarah Hadland to name a few. Leisure facilities in and around the town include the leisure centre The Rainbow Centre on East Street and the Odeon Luxe cinema in Upper High St
As part of Epsom and Ewell, the town is twinned with Chantilly in northern France.