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Ewell (/ˈjuːl/) is a town in the borough of Epsom and Ewell in Surrey, close to the southern boundary of Greater London. It is located 14 miles (22.5 km) south-south-west of Charing Cross and forms part of the suburbia that surrounds Greater London. Despite its growing population it is still referred to as a village by locals. Ewell is at the head of the Hogsmill river, a tributary of the River Thames, and the spring has likely been considered sacred dating back into pre-history.

The name Ewell derives from Old English æwell, which means river source or spring. The old Roman road Stane Street deviates from a straight line slightly at Ewell in order to pass by the spring. Ewell is one of a number of settlements founded along the geological line between the chalk of the North Downs to the south, and the clay of the London Basin to the north. The A24 London Road runs from Merton to Ewell along the course of the Roman road, and Stane Street leaves Ewell connecting it towards Leatherhead and Dorking to the south-west. Bronze Age remains have also been found in Ewell and the Romans are likely to have encountered an existing religious site when they first arrived.

Ewell lay within the Copthorne hundred, an administrative division devised by the Saxons.

Ewell appears in Domesday Book of 1086 as Etwelle. It was held by William the Conqueror. Its domesday assets were: 13½ hides; 2 mills worth 10s, 16 ploughs, 14 acres (57,000 m2) of meadow, woodland and herbage worth 111 hogs. It rendered £25; also £1 from the church in Leatherhead, which was held by Osbert de Ow and was attached to his manor.

King Henry VIII established the 1538 Nonsuch Palace, considered one of his greatest building projects, to the north-east of the town. The estate, which remains a public park, was one of his favourite hunting grounds, although no trace of the palace remains having been destroyed during the 17th century.

Tunnels dating from the English Civil War exist underneath Ewell but are poorly documented and inaccessible to the public. One such secret passage is reported to emerge under the shop on the corner of West Street and High Street.

In the 1980s, an elderly lifelong resident of Ewell (Digance) recalled the pasture land and orchards that stretched north and west right across to Berrylands (located between Tolworth and Surbiton). This radical transformation is documented in the photography collected in the book Archive Photos – Epsom and Ewell. The suburban residential development now present across that area is comprised almost exclusively of 1930s/40s semi-detached houses, and the Hogsmill Open Space is the last remaining indication of Ewell’s very rural pre-war history.

In August 2005 the borough of Epsom and Ewell was rated the most desirable place to live in the United Kingdom by the British television programme The Best and Worst Place to Live in the UK, although in 2006 it dropped to 8th place. The borough’s low crime rate, good education results and large number of open spaces were all cited as especially attractive features, although it lost marks due to a ‘lack of entertainment facilities’.

One of Ewell’s most notable landmarks is the architecturally impressive Bourne Hall, situated in the centre of the town. Originally the site of Garbrand Hall, a large country mansion, Bourne Hall is now a modernist circular structure with a central glass dome, and is surrounded by an attractive public park. The building, which is reminiscent of an immense flying saucer, hosts a public library, subterranean theatre, gymnasium, cafe, and local museum. It regularly holds gatherings such as fayres, Yoga and Karate lessons.

Ewell has a Parish Church (Saint Mary the Virgin, Ewell), which was designed by Henry Clutton and consecrated in 1848. It is home to the 1889 ‘Father’ Henry Willis pipe organ. Around the town there are a number of schools, including nursery and infants school Ewell Grove School, private day school Ewell Castle School, boys comprehensive school Glyn School and the North-East Surrey College of Technology.

Unlike most parts of Epsom, Ewell has telephone numbers using the London 020 area code, an anomaly shared with Chigwell and Loughton in Essex. Ewell also has an unusually large telephone exchange, next door to the Spring pub, which was fitted with underground facilities designed to survive a nuclear conflict during the late years of the Cold War.

It was transferred in 2000 from the Metropolitan Police, in whose district it had been placed since 1839, to the jurisdiction of Surrey Police.

Ewell is also home to Ewell St. Mary’s Morris Men. Founded in 1979, further to a bequest from the then Vicar, Peter Hogben, for the annual Village Fete – the Team danced into The Morris Ring in the late eighties and now have many unique dances in their repertoire. They dance Cotswold Morris and sport black top hats, red and white baldricks and ribbons.

In West Ewell, there is a King George’s Field in memorial to King George V. Ewell lies on the London Outer Orbital Path walking route.

Ewell is served by two railway stations: Ewell West, which has services towards London Waterloo, Dorking and Guildford and Ewell East, which has services towards London Victoria, Dorking and Horsham.

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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