Epsom

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Epsom is a town in the borough of Epsom and Ewell in Surrey, England. Some parts of Epsom are in the Borough of Reigate and Banstead and Mole Valley District. The town is located 16 miles (26 km) south-south-west of Charing Cross, within the Greater London Urban Area. The town lies on the chalk downland in the valley of Epsom Downs, and is home to the eponymous racecourse, which holds the world-famous Epsom Derby every year.

Epsom lies within the Copthorne hundred, an administrative division devised by the Saxons. The name of Epsom derives from Ebba’s ham. Ebba was a Saxon landowner. There were a string of settlements, many ending in -ham, along the northern slopes of the Downs, including Effingham, Bookham, and Cheam. The only relic from this period is a 7th century brooch found in Epsom and now in the British Museum.

The early history of the area is bound up with the Abbey of Chertsey, whose ownership of Ebbisham was confirmed by King Athelstan in 933.

Epsom appears in Domesday Book of 1086 as Evesham. It was held by Chertsey Abbey. Its Domesday assets were: 11 hides; 2 churches, 2 mills worth 10 shillings, 18 ploughs, 24 acres (97,000 m2) of meadow, woodland worth 20 hogs. It rendered £17. The town at the time of Domesday Book had 38 peasant households grouped near St. Martin’s Church. Later, other small settlements grew up at the town pond (now the Market in the High Street), and at Epsom Court, Horton, Woodcote, and Langley Vale.

The town is near the world famous Epsom Downs Racecourse which features two of the five English Classic horse races; the Derby and the Oaks. The races 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 Epsom Derby, sustaining fatal injuries.

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 Rosebery Park and Rosebery School. A house was also named after him at Epsom College, a public school located in Epsom.

Historically, Epsom was known as a spa town, although there is little to see nowadays apart from a water pump. There were entertainments at the Assembly Rooms (built c. 1690 and now a pub). A housing estate has now been built upon the wells.

Epsom salts are named after the town. Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) was originally prepared by boiling down mineral waters at Epsom.

Owing partly to its position 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.

Epsom and Ewell was ranked in the top ten of the Halifax Quality of Life Survey 2011.

The Epsom Playhouse was opened in 1984 and is run by Epsom and Ewell Borough council.

Epsom Clock Tower was built in 1847, replacing the watchhouse 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.

The Ashley Centre, a shopping mall, was built in the early 1980s and subsequently parts of the high street were pedestrianised as part of the construction of the town’s one-way system. In the 1990s, a large multiplex Odeon cinema was built in Upper High Street.

The late 1990s saw the development of the Ebbisham Centre, a community service based development, including a doctors’ surgery, Epsom Library, a cafe and a health and fitness centre. The Derby Square expanded and includes a number of franchise chain pubs/bars.

The University for the Creative Arts has one of its five campuses in Epsom. Laine Theatre Arts, an independent performing arts college, is based in the town. Students have included Victoria Beckham. Leisure facilities in and around the town include a leisure centre (the Rainbow Centre) on East Street; Epsom Downs Racecourse; the Odeon cinema; and the Horton Park Children’s Farm.

Major employers in the town include Epsom and Ewell Borough Council and WS Atkins.

As part of Epsom and Ewell, the town is twinned with Chantilly in northern France.

Epsom railway station has frequent rail services to London (running to Waterloo, Victoria and London Bridge), and also to Leatherhead, Dorking, Guildford, Horsham, West Croydon and Wimbledon where it connects with the London Underground. The town’s other station, Epsom Town, was closed in 1929; and although most of the listed buildings remain they have apparenty been left to decay, and incorporated into fast food and shop storage areas on the Upper High Street. The station is of historic interest being the arrival point for Queen Victoria and her entourage prior to taking a carriage up to Epsom Downs. The dereliction is even more evident from the train line from Ewell East railway station.

Two other railway lines were built to serve the Epsom Downs Racecourse, with termini at Epsom Downs and Tattenham Corner.

The Horton Light Railway was built around 1905, as a branch from the main line near Ewell West Station, to deliver building materials to the mental hospitals (see above) being built on what is now Horton Country Park.

  • The A24 passes through the centre of the town.
  • The M25 motorway can be joined at Junction 9 Leatherhead, via the A24 south.
  • The B280 runs from Epsom (West Hill) through Malden Rushett (A243) to Oxshott.
Note: this page is partly based on a Wikipedia page. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. Where possible, text is being updated to original, fully referenced research. ‘Our photos’ means we took the photographs. The Street View and street map visuals are courtesy of Google.

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