What to See in England
By Gordon Home
Public Domain Books
Epsom: Its Races and Its Salts
=How to get there.=–From Waterloo, South-Western Railway. From London Bridge or Victoria, London, Brighton, and South Coast Rly. =Nearest Station.=–Epsom. =Distance from London.=–14 miles. =Average Time.=–3/4 hour.
1st 2nd 3rd =Fares.=–Single 2s. 3d. 1s. 6d. 1s. 2d. Return 3s. 0d. 2s. 6d. 2s. 2d.
=Accommodation Obtainable.=–"King’s Head,” “Spread Eagle,” etc.
One must choose any other than a race-day if one wishes to see the charming old town of Epsom at its best. But if, on the other hand, one wishes, to see something of the scene on the race-course depicted in Mr. Frith’s famous picture, one gets no suggestion of the great spectacle except on race-days. On these occasions, at the Spring meeting and during Derby week, one has merely to follow the great streams of humanity which converge on the downs from the roads from London and from the railway stations. On ordinary days the wide rolling downs are generally left alone to the health-giving breezes which blow over them. In the town itself there is much to be seen of the seventeenth-century architecture associated with the days of Epsom’s fame as a watering-place. The wide portion of the High Street at once attracts one’s notice, for with one or two exceptions its whole length is full of the quaintest of buildings with cream walls and mossy tiled roofs. The clock-tower was built in 1848, when it replaced a very simple old watch-house with a curious little tower rising from it. The “Spread Eagle” is one of the oldest of the Epsom inns; its irregular front and its position looking up the High Street make it more conspicuous than the “King’s Head,” an equally old and very interesting hostelry facing the clock-tower. Pepys stayed there in 1667, for in his diary of July 14 of that year he writes, “To Epsom, by eight o’clock, to the well; where much company. And to the towne to the King’s Head; and hear that my Lord Buckhurst and Nelly (Gwynne) are lodged at the next house, and Sir Charles Sedley with them: and keep a merry house.” This house, next to the “King’s Head,” is still standing. A little further along the street is the large red-brick building known to-day as Waterloo House. It was built about the year 1680, and was then known as the New Inn. The old banqueting-hall it contains is divided up now, for the building is converted into shops.
Durdans, the residence of Lord Rosebery, is about ten minutes’ walk from the High Street. One can see the house and grounds from the narrow lane leading to the downs.
[Illustration: HIGH STREET, EPSOM.
Showing one of the famous inns which flourished in the seventeenth century.]