Epsom Heritage - Part 3
West Street And West Hill

A Detailed Survey of Epsom with historical context by Tomas H.J. Dethridge.

This Document was produced by Epsom Civic Society in 2011 from the writings of Thomas Dethridge, a former Chairman of the Society. Although largely completed by 2005, the article formed the foundations of their two excellent Heritage Trails (Trail 1, Trail 2, Trail 2 Map ). It is reproduced on this site with their permission and we have split it into eight sections:
  1. Historical Background
  2. High Street (West)
  3. West Street And West Hill (This Page)
  4. South Street And Woodcote
  5. High Street (East)
  6. Upper High Street
  7. The Railway Comes To Epsom
  8. Church Street

West Street And West Hill


The Marquis of Granby
The Marquis of Granby. Date not known.
Image courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

When we crossed the road to the Albion at the western end of the High Street, we noticed that next to No. 124, the adjacent premises were No. 2 of West Street and its neighbour at No. 4 the Marquis of Granby pub. The small shop at No. 2 was for a long time a quality butchers and had an unusual internal glazed separate cashier's desk. There are perhaps today still many people who will recall buying their weekly joint to their own choice, having it cut and paying at the desk in Matthews as recently as the mid 1980's. This firm had taken over the business from Elphick Ardern prior to WWII and a photograph exists of the shop in the 1920's with the meat carcasses hanging up outside, normal practice in that era - the amount of passing traffic was of course but a fraction of that of more recent times! The shop is listed, as is the pub next door. The latter is of 18th century construction with a 19th century porch. The retention of its familiar (though not original) name represented another small triumph for the Epsom Protection Society and other concerned citizens, many of whom had been dismayed in 1997 to learn that new owners were intending to re-title it as the Flutter and Firkin in conformity with their company naming policy. Vigorous protests secured that the traditional name should remain in place alongside the new soubriquet. After the passage of a few years, it is the latter that has been dropped.

No. 6, a former small workshop and Nos. 8-10, now a pair of houses with steps up to the doors but originally a single residence are all 18th century and all have been used as offices. No. 6 was still in use by Waglan builder as his base until late in the post WWII era. Past No. 10 there were 3 or 4 shops including a stationer cum toyshop reaching to the Station Approach corner but they were gone by 1984, replaced by a new 4-storey office block with its own internal ground floor car park - this was later modified.

On reaching Station Approach look up at the decorated gable end over the block of small shops, Nos. 26-30, lying east of the railway bridge. These were built of reinforced concrete in the 1870's, Epsom's first, by the Furniss family on the small triangle of land between the railway and the road to the station, as combined dwelling, works and shop. Among present occupants is a baker with his own oven and a barber. Across the road Nos. 1-5 (Viceroy Cars, Cairds and the Print Centre) are conversions of early 18th century houses, with Nos. 7-11 late 17th, No. 7 having not long since been well known locally as Ye Olde Guild Cottage bread and cake shop. The bow window to No. 9 is a fairly recent addition. Nos. 13-15 is a small timber-framed weatherboard cottage. Continuing up the hill as it bears round to the left are three large 18th century houses, the Old Manor House (never actually a real manor house), the White House - both early 18th - and the British Legion Club, a shade less old. All these buildings from No. 1 are listed.

The Furniss Shop and works and home
The Furniss Shop and works and home. Date not known.
Image courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

For those who wish to go on further, under the bridge and into West Hill, there are more items of interest. Emerging from the bridge earlier the station-master of the LSWR station had been immediately adjacent to the line, presumably numbered 2, and next came Nos. 4-6 a pair of timber framed listed late 17th/18th century houses, originally built as a single dwelling. Over to the south lies Fair Green (yes, fairs have been held on it) bounded on its far side by an old brick wall (listed.) formerly marking the edge of the Hookfield House estate, whose distinctive mid-Victorian Lodge remains, as further along does the old coach house (both listed), though the house itself has gone. West Hill was once known as Clay Hill and Pair Green was called Clay Hill Green along with the existing area still referred to by the latter name. Hookfield House had been built in 1857 in replacement of an earlier mansion closer to the road. The Stamford Green Conservation Area takes in the district bordering West Hill and Christ Church Road as far as the church itself and then that part of the common from Stamford Green southwards to Bramble Walk west of the Hookfield Estate.

On the north side of West Hill, now in use as offices is the former 19th century pub, the Eclipse at No. 26, named after the invincible horse of the 1770's, whose progeny include numerous Derby and other classic winners right down to modern times; with no owners willing to pit their horses against him he was retired to stud a little further on from here. Two doors away stands the former church hall of Christ Church; it dates from 1899 and was closed as such in 1986, being then converted for use as a private school. The church itself, originally intended as a Chapel of Ease for St Martin's to serve parishioners on the Common and indeed known as the Common Church was built in 1843 but replaced 33 years later by the present, larger building (listed) which lies further along West Hill just past Stamford Green.

The Eclipse, 26 West Hill
The Eclipse, 26 West Hill. Date not known.
Image courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Going back to the north side and continuing on from the Church Hall leads to Clay Hall Green (already mentioned two paragraphs earlier). At its eastern side is West Hill House, which dated from about 1700 but was altered in the 18th and 19th centuries and then, after a long period of neglect, was rebuilt in the late 20th in a copy of its previous appearance and is now in use as offices. The Meadway in the centre of the Green leads though a distinctive arch into the 1930's Chase Estate. On the western side of the Green stands a line of attractive and varied Victorian dwellings including West Hill Cottage, No. 38 (listed), and, close to the main road, Kingswood House prep school which was built on the site of the residence and presumably stables of Colonel Kelly, owner of Eclipse which retired to stud here. On the south side is a pair of early 18th century cottages, Nos. 43-45, (listed) and then we reach Stamford Green with its pond, its attractive Georgian pub, the Cricketers, of weatherboard construction (listed, like the Jolly Coopers further round), a variety of smaller houses and other buildings of note many of 19th century date, including the prominent ornately gabled Victorian Working Men's Club. At the western end stands the previously mentioned Christ Church of 1876 (listed) while opposite is the early 19th century Old Lodge (listed; with its bow front on timber supports, formerly belonging to the moated Horton Manor which was sold to the London County Council in 1890 at the beginning of the vast mental hospital project; this complex - which has come to be known in recent times as the Hospital Cluster-was built, unit by unit from the 1890's up to 1925, but in the last 15 years has been largely abandoned following changes in medical - and political - thinking, though some of the buildings, mostly built to high standards, are being preserved or converted.

The Cricketers Public House
The Cricketers Public House. Date not known.
Image courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Links to the Previous and Next parts.

Epsom Civic Society © 2011


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