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Epsom College

Epsom College is a co-educational Public School in Epsom, Surrey, England for 13 pupils aged 18. Founded in 1853 to provide support for poor members of the medical profession such as pensioners and orphans ("Foundationers"), Epsom's long-standing association with medicine was estimated in 1980 as having helped almost a third of its 10,000 alumni enter that profession. The college caters for both boarding and day pupils, the headmaster is a member of the Headmasters' Conference.

The Good Schools Guide called the school "consistently among top schools in the South East," adding that it is "Very social.


The school was founded in 1853 by Dr. John Propert as The Royal Medical Benevolent College, the aims of which were to provide accommodation pensioned medical doctors or their widows in the first instance, and to provide a "liberal education" to 100 sons of "duly qualified medical men" for £25 each year.

The establishment of the College was the culmination of a campaign begun in 1844 by the Provincial Medical and Surgical Association, the forerunner of the British Medical Association. The scheme saw the medical profession was

"in regard to charitable institutions for the aged and infirm, the widow and the orphan, the worst provided of all professions and callings"
and took as its aim the alleviating of poverty and debt. Discussions were chaired by Sir John Forbes, Physician to Prince Albert and the Royal Household, and followed similar plans establishing schools for the Clergy and the Royal Navy in desiring to raise money to found "schools for the sons of medical men", providing an education which would otherwise be "beyond the means of many parents".

By 1851, the Medical Benevolent Society had limited itself to the foundation of a single Benevolent College, and met in Treasurer John Propert's house in New Cavendish Street, Marylebone. The new campaign's fund-raising activities included dinners, which were attended by numerous doctors and Members of Parliament, and concerts, for example on 4 July 1855 one such event included composer Hector Berlioz conducting the UK premier of his symphonic suite Harold in Italy.

The foundation stone was laid on the 6 July 1853, and almost two years later on 25 June 1855 the College was formally opened by Prince Albert and his son, the future King Edward VII in front of an unexpectedly large crowd of around 6,000. Queen Victoria consented in March of that year to become patron, a relationship which has continued with British monarchs ever since; King Edward VII after the death of his mother, King George V, King Edward VIII in 1936, King George VI from 1937, and then the current Queen until the present.

Its long-standing association with medicine was estimated in 1980 as having helped almost a third of its 10,000 alumni enter that profession.

In 2005 the school was one of fifty of the country's leading private schools which were found guilty of running an illegal price-fixing cartel, exposed by The Times, which had allowed them to drive up fees for thousands of parents. Each school was required to pay a nominal penalty of £10,000 and all agreed to make ex-gratia payments totalling three million pounds into a trust designed to benefit pupils who attended the schools during the period in respect of which fee information was shared.

Development & Charity

It was founded in 1855 to provide support for poor members of the medical profession. Funding for such a bold undertaking was to prove inadequate to the task, which resulted in the a reduced number of buildings and therefore reduced space which could not support 100 pensioners and 100 boys. Partially as a result of this in the 1860s the school was opened to children of non-medical parents. In the subsequent decades pensioners were supported off-site, until there were none on campus by the end of the 19th Century. These moves mark the transition towards the College becoming a public school in the modern sense.

There continued to be a charitable side to the College, however, which was intertwined with the strictly educational institution throughout the 20th Century. It was only in 2000 that the Royal Medical Foundation was formed as a separate company, its activities allowing it to support 4 Foundationers at the College, 27 outside it, in addition to paying 20 pensions and supporting one doctor at a medical home.

In the 1920s the junior school-side of the college was run down, the College catering only for 13-18 year-olds as a result. In 1976 Girls were first allowed into the sixth-form, and 20 years later co-education was introduced throughout.

Its campus is situated on the outskirts of Epsom, near to Epsom Downs on the North Downs, the racecourse of which is most famous for holding the Epsom Derby every year. The architecture principally consists of buildings built since 1853 mainly in a style influenced by the Gothic revival of the era and by what Prince Albert described as the "pointed style of the 14th Century


House Name Composition Colours Named after Motto Founded Housemaster/Mistress
Carr (C) Boarding/Day Boys Green and Black Dr. William Carr Pro Christo et Patria Dulce Periculum 1883 Mike Day
Crawfurd (Cr) Boarding/Day Girls Purple and White Raymond Crawfurd, Member of Council Durum Patientia Frango 1935 as a Day Boys House Helen Keevil
Fayrer (Fa) Boarding Boys Blue and White Sir Joseph Fayrer Quo Aequior eo Melior 1897 as a Junior Boys House Stuart Head
Forest (F) Boarding Boys Yellow and Black An early College Benefactor Semper Forestia 1883 Andy Bustard
Granville (G) Boarding Boys Red and Black Earl of Granville Frangas non flectes 1883 as 'Gilchrist'. Renamed 1884. Dr Murray Tod
Hart Smith Closed 1965 Green and White Former Headmaster Rev. T.N. Hart-Smith-Pearse 1931 for Foundationers aged under 13
Holman (H) Boarding Boys Red, White and Black Treasurer Sir Constantine Holman 1897 as a Junior Boys House Ian Holiday
Propert (P) Day Boys Blue and Black Founder John Propert Dyfalad 1883 as Boarding Boys House Andy Wolstenholme
Raven (Rv) Day Girls Purple and Blue Dame Kathleen Raven, Member of Council Faith in Adversity 1999 Joanna Vernon-Hardcourt
Robinson (Rn) Day Boys Green and White Henry Robinson, Chairman of Council Virtute non Verbis 1968 Charles Conway
Rosebery (R) Day Girls Purple and Black The Earl of Rosebery 1926 as a day boys house became girls in 2008 Natasha Wilson
Wilson (W) Boarding Girls White and Black Sir Erasmus Wilson Expecta Cuncta Superna 1871, as an independent Boarding Boys House, named 1883 & incorporated into the College 1914. Miss K Adams
White House (Wh) Boarding 6th form Girls White and Yellow Original Building Name 1976 Celine Winmill
House colours are seen in the stripes in the ties worn by the majority of boys (those not wearing colours or prefect's ties) or on a rectangular brooch worn by the girls. They are also used in house rugby and athletics tops.

Also available for purchase at the on-site school shop (Lester Bowden) are house cufflinks with the house colours, edged with a gold rim. These are new for September 2007.




Hockey, previously a minor (optional) sport, became a major sport after the opening of the new pitches behind the maths block. While the pitches were completed for September 1966, the autumn term was devoted to stone picking parties, and the hockey season started in January 1967. Hockey had been played previously on the Chudleigh rugby and cricket pitches.


In 2001, the Epsom College U15 team won their age group in Daily Mail Cup, beating The John Fisher School by 17-12 at Twickenham in the Final. In 2006, the U16 Epsom sevens team won the 2006 Sevens National Championship at Rosslyn Park by beating Millfield 29-19. In 2005 Epsom College U15 Team lost to Bedford 10-5 in the Semi final of the Daily Mail competition .

Rifle shooting

The college has (one of) the best rifle teams in the country, having won the prestigious Ashburton Shield at the annual Bisley Rifle Championships ten times since 1990.


The Athletics Term

Until the winter of 1965, Epsom College was probably unique in holding athletics in the coldest months of the year, between January and April. This meant that the long jump pit was often frozen. The track surrounded the First XV pitch, and was either frozen or waterlogged.

Air Raid Shelters

During the Second World War, in preparation for the possibility of attack from the air, several air raid shelters were built, the outlines of which are still visible in aerial photographs and satellite imagery as a row of negative cropmarks in the grass on the Chapel Triangle.

The Fives Courts

Near Chapel Pitch, there are the remnants of several open air fives courts, one of which is said to be a doubles court. In the late 1960s these were functional courts, albeit of odd design.

Principal Feeder Prep Schools


  • (1855 - 1870) Doctor Robinson Thornton, M.A. (Oxon), D.D.
  • (1870 - 1855) The Rev. William de Lancy West, M.A. (Oxon), D.D.
  • (1885 - 1889) The Rev. William Cecil Wood, M.A. (Cantab)
  • (1889 - 1914) The Rev. Thomas Northcote Hart-Smith, M.A. (Oxon)
  • (1914 - 1922) The Rev. Canon Walter John Barton, M.A. (Oxon)
  • (1922 - 1939) The Rev. Canon Arnold Cecil Powell, M.A. (Cantab)
  • (1939 - 1962) Henry William Fernyhough Franklin, M.A. (Oxon)
  • (1962 - 1970) Archibald Duncan Dougal MacCullum, T.D., M.A., FRSA
  • (1970 - 1982) Owen John Tressider Rowe, M.A. (Oxon) (previously headmaster of Giggleswick School)
  • (1982 - 1992) Dr John B. Cook, BSc, Ph.D., AKC
  • (1993 - 2000) Anthony (Tony) Beadles, M.A. (OE, Forest)
  • (2000 - ) Stephen Borthwick BSc, CPhys, FRSA

Sundry Items of Interest

Southern Railway School's Class

The School lent its name to the thirtyeighth steam locomotive (Engine 937) in the Southern Railway's Class V of which there were 40. This Class was also known as the Schools Class because all 40 of the class were named after prominent English public schools. 'Epsom', as it was called, was built in 1934.The locomotive bearing the School's name was withdrawn in the early 1960s.

Notable Alumni

Past pupils are called Old Epsomians (OEs)

A to D

E to K

L to R

S to Z

Notable Staff


Further reading and sources

  • Salmon, Michael A (1980). Epsom College the First 125 Years. Old Epsomian Club. 145 pages.
  • Scadding, Alan (2004). Benevolence and Excellence: 150 Years of the Royal Medical Foundation of Epsom College. Epsom College. 134 pages.

See also

External links

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