Epsom is a town in the borough of Epsom and Ewell in Surrey, England, to the south of Greater London. The town is located south-south-west of Charing Cross, and forms part of the suburbia that surrounds London. The town lies on the chalk downland of Epsom Downs.
Epsom lay 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.
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 10s, 18 ploughs, 24 acres 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 British Prime Minister and first chairman of the London County Council, Lord Rosebery, was sent down (expelled) from the University of Oxford 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, memorialised 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. There were entertainments at the Assembly Rooms (built c. 1690) and is now a Wetherspoons pub. A housing estate has now been built upon the wells.
Epsom was visited by Samuel Pepys in 1663 when the town was famous for its wells. The visit is noted in his diaries.
Epsom salts are named after the town. Epsom salt was originally prepared by boiling down mineral waters at Epsom.
The Epsom Playhouse was opened in 1984 and is run by the local council.
The Ashley Shopping Centre (still locally known as such despite the owners wanting everyone to refer to it as The Mall Ashley) was built in the early 1980s and subsequently parts of the high street were pedestrianised as part of the construction of the town's large 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 doctor's surgery, Epsom Library, a cafe and a health and fitness centre. The Derby Square expanded and includes of a number of franchise chain pubs/bars including a Slug and Lettuce, Jimmy Spices, Wetherspoons, and Nandos. More recently, the Stir cocktail bar, Boogie Lounge nightclub, Lime restaurant & bar and The Native Toungue live music bar have been established.
The University for the Creative Arts, has one of five outposts in Epsom. Laine Theatre Arts School is based in the town. Students have included Victoria Beckham. Leisure activities in the town include: the Rainbow Centre Leisure Centre; Epsom Downs Racecourse; the Odeon Cinema and the Horton Park Children's Farm.
These were (in order of date of build):
These were all built in very close proximity to each other on a site on the Epsom Downs, which the London County Council bought to rapidly solve the overcrowding problems in its other hospitals. Some of these hospitals (Horton and Manor especially) were built quickly and on limited budgets, and were identical in layout to other asylums designed by the architects G.T.Hine and William Clifford-Smith who were employed by the LCC. The hospitals shared a central 'engineering works' next to Long Grove, which supplied all 5 establishments with water (hot and cold) and electrcity. Of the asylums that have closed, 3 have been converted into housing (Horton, The Manor and Long Grove Hospital) and 2 have been run down with only limited usage in West Park & St Ebbas, Including day services & a cottage hospital. These were formerly served by the Horton Light Railway.
There was also The Horton Light Railway which was built around 1905 to deliver building materials from the main line near Ewell West Station to the mental hospitals (see above) being built on what is now Horton Country Park.
It is also part of the South West Trains service.