The 'New Stables'

Church Street, Epsom,
sometimes described fancifully as 'Nell Gwynn's Stables',
with The Horse and Groom public house.

Stables beside the King's Head, near the church, Epsom by E Hassell
Stables beside the King's Head, near the church, Epsom
Stables beside the King's Head, near the church, Epsom by E Hassell c.1831
Images Courtesy Of Bourne Hall Museum

In The Residential Copyholds of Epsom, at item 7B7, the late Dr H L Lehmann reports that half an acre of arable or pasture land, abutting on the lane leading from Epsom to the common called the Downs and near the Church, was acquired by Henry Wright, citizen and draper of London, and Elizabeth his wife, on 18 March 1685. It was the southern third of a plot 'near the White Hart gate leading to Epsom Church' [a reference point currently represented by the alleyway between 28 & 30 Church Street, formerly an exit from Woodcote Common Field]. By 19 December 1694 this site had been developed to comprise messuages, barns, stables, buildings, yards, gardens, orchards and courts which were then mortgaged. Before 26 May 1725, the Wrights had defaulted and the real estate passed to nephews of the mortgagees. Consequently, on 21 October 1730, Sir Philip Hall, Kt., with the widow Wright, was licensed to let the premises for 41 years.

At the death of Sir Philip Hall of Upton, Essex, all these customary messuages, barns, stables, edifices, yards, gardens, and orchards called the New Stables, by then extending to one and a half acres, were inherited by his only son, Philip Hall, an infant [Will of Sir Philip Hall, Distiller of London, of West Ham, Essex, proved 21 January 1746]. Thomas Boone, guardian of Philip Hall, junior, was admitted to the copyhold on 13 May 1746. At this juncture the premises appear to have become established as livery stables.

In the manorial survey of 1755, Philip Hall held land reduced to 1 acre - a messuage, coach-house, wash-house, stables, yard and garden called the New Stables. There was no mention of the King's Head public house in the survey but a half acre messuage could have been appropriated for it to be opened. Certainly, a lease of that tavern had been granted with effect from Michaelmas 1765 to Jane Philips, widow. [Link To The Brewery]

On 25 October 1762, Philip Hall of East Bergholt sold, to Samuel Inman of the City of London, gent., his copyhold messuage with the outhouses, gardens, grounds and appurtenances - in the occupation of Joseph Cooke and known by the sign of the Horse and Groom. An 18th century enclosure map, of which a copy is held in the History Centre, was re-worked by the late Reginald White to show 'A portion of the Commonfield of Woodcote in Epsom', plan No. 3 in Ancient Epsom. This depicts 'Cooks' and 'New Stables' as plots adjacent to 'Shaws' [Link To Joseph Shaw] extending from Downs Side.

Joseph and Mary Cook

It has not been established when Joseph Cook(e) arrived in the parish. A son, James, may have been christened at Wimbledon on 20 December 1738 but a daughter, Rebeckah, appears in St Martin's register of baptisms, 20 June 1744. These children were both buried in Epsom churchyard: -
'To the Memory of JAMES and REBECKAH Son and Daughter of JOSEPH and MARY COOK JAMES died November ye 5th 1755 aged 16 years. REBEKAH died June ye 25th1761 aged 17 years. Weep not for us for [it?] is in vain; your loss dear friends is our Eternal gain.'
An inscription on a tombstone in St Martin's churchyard also appears to record the passing of their parents: -
'In Memory of JOSEPH COOK Late of this Parish who Died June ye 4th(?)1769 Aged 65 Years. Also MARY Wife of JOSEPH COOK who died June ye 18th 1780 Aged 78 Years.'
Mary Cook had been buried 26 June 1780.

On the death of Samuel Inman of the parish of St Sepulchre, London, brandy merchant, and under his will dated 7 November 1775 [proved 10 November 1775 PROB 11/1013] the premises passed to his Executors and Trustees. They were formally admitted on 27 October 1777 when the occupier was named as Robert Bloss.

Robert Bloss, training groom, keeper of stables at Epsom & publican.

'Bob' Bloss, born circa 1738, is reported to have become a jockey by the age of 13. He arrived in Epsom a married man and Robert and Ann Bloss had the following children, all baptised at St Martin's: -
Robert Bray Bloss christened 15th November 1770, Lucy Diana Bloss christened 11th May 1772 Frederick Cavendish Bloss christened 17th May 1774 & Francis Lynch Bloss christened 11th February 1776.
In evidence given at the Old Bailey, Bloss declared that he had been proprietor of a public house in Epsom during 1771 - the accused horse thief was found guilty and sentenced to death - http://www.oldbaileyonline.org

At one stage he had the care of a 'noted trotting mare' Betty Bloss at Epsom - http://books.google.co.uk

Betty Bloss, a Famous Trotting Mare
Betty Bloss, a Famous Trotting Mare
Image source Sporting magazine, Volume 24, June 1804
via Google books

Mr and Mrs Bloss both died at an early age and were interred in St Martin's churchyard: -
Sacred to the Memory of ROBERT BLOSS who departed this Life May the 31st 1782 in the 45 year of his Age.
A loving husband a friend sincere A tender Father to his children dear.
Also MRS. ANN BLOSS died 15th of June 1786 Aged 42 Years.
On 9 June 1800, Samuel Inman's son, Samuel Inman the younger of Gloucester Street, Queen Square, Middx., gained possession after his mother and sister having surrendered their rights to him. The Horse and Groom property had become occupied by 'the widow Dilley'. She appears to have been the relict of Thomas Dilly who was buried at St Martin's in 1796.

Thomas, Ann & John Dilly occupiers

The Racing Calendar for 1797 contained the following advertisement under 'Training Stables, Epsom':
John Dilly Begs Leave to inform the NOBLEMEN and GENTLEMEN of the TURF, that he intends (for the Benefit of his Mother) to TAKE IN HORSES TO TRAIN, and HUNTERS TO STAND AT LIVERY, at the Stables of his late Father; where Gentlemen may depend on every proper Attention being paid to such Horses, &c. as they may be pleased to fend him, and their Favours will be gratefully acknowledged.
Ann Dilly died on 3 September 1825 but she and her son had moved out by 1819.

Samuel Inman, junior, had in fact immediately sold this real estate on to William Whaley of Piccadilly, Middx. Ownership subsequently passed from the latter to Chamberlain Hinchcliffe of Mitcham, dyer, 23 December 1801, and Andrew Burt of Epsom, 28 October 1811. The latter was a legal attorney, sometime of Epsom Cottage later Stone House, Warbleton, Sussex, who seems to have let the messuage.

On 11 August 1815, the Rev Andrew Reed of Cannon Street Road, St. George's in the East, Middx., acquired the property for £680 and, from 12 October 1819, obtained a licence to let it to Sarah Watts of Epsom, widow, for 21 years.

Thomas Scaith (1778 - 1836), trainer on the premises during 1822

According to an article in The Sporting Magazine, Vol 10, 1822, Thomas Scaith, 'a well-informed and careful man in his line, completely free from the all the old destructive prejudices of working and physicking horses to death' had use of the Church Street stables during that year.

A tombstone in St Martin's churchyard bears the inscriptions: -
SACRED
to the Memory
of ELIZABETH SCAITH
who departed this Life
the 29th of July, 1821,
Aged 9 Years.

Also in Memory
of THOMAS SCAITH
who departed this Life
the 16th of October, 1836
Aged 58 Years.

Also THOS. Son of the above
who died at Pardubitz in
Bohemia Septr. 6th 1840
Aged 35 Years.
Also ISABELLA widow of the
first names THOS. SCAITH
who died May 28th 1842
Aged 63 Years.

With Sarah Watts in occupation, on 25 October 1824, the premises were purchased by Rowland Stephenson, banker, Lombard Street, London, for £800. [LINK TO PittPlaceFULLVer3.pdf] In the public auction on 6 October 1840, following Stephenson's bankruptcy, the Horse and Groom estate was purchased by George Cooper Ridge of Morden Park for £376.10.0. Ridge died intestate on 24 March 1842 and never completed the contract but his family were shown as owners for the 1843 Tithe return, with George Dockeray as occupier.

George Dockeray, jockey and trainer

Particulars for this individual may be found in C W (Bill) Eacott's A History of Racehorse Training at Epsom of which a copy is available from Ewell Library. Other sources suggest that Lottery had been brought to Dockeray's stables in Epsom during 1839.

On 20 May 1845, the widowed Mrs Martha Ridge and her eldest son George Chamberlain Ridge agreed that Samuel Ford, Henrietta Street, Covent Garden could take over the contract to purchase the Horse and Groom property. Dockeray remained in occupation until Ford sold on to John Foley Kealy, 369 Oxford Street, Middx., agricultural implement maker, for £600, 10 May 1855.

Kealy obtained a licence to let the premises to George Hodgman for 7 years from 17 November 1855 at £45 p.a.

'Nell Gwynn's Stables'

This title appears to have been applied in Victorian times but the buildings do not appear to have been erected until after Eleanor Gwynn's death on 14 November 1687. A reference may be found in C J Swete's A handbook of Epsom, published in 1860: -
"This house [next to the King's Head on Epsom High Street] the infamous but noted Eleanor Gwynn frequented-Nell Gwynn, who sometime swayed a monarchs mind (and chiefly to good and kind actions very foreign to the royal nature). There lived this being (so thoughtless for herself, so thoughtful for others) with Lord Buckhurst; and in that balcony was accustomed to sit, watching the fashionable throng as they passed on in search of health or pleasure to the Wells. At the other side of the Town, opposite Pitt Place, near the Parish Church, stables still stand, built by the dissipated and giddy Charles, for her use".
Extract from the 1866 OS Map
Extract from the 1866 OS Map

George 'Hodgy' Hodgman

George 'Hodgy' Hodgman
George 'Hodgy' Hodgman
Image source Sixty Years on the Turf by CR Warren
via http://archive.org

Sixty years on the turf: the life and times of George Hodgman - 1840 - 1900 may be read online at http://archive.org

Hodgman has been described as a professional betting man who employed private trainers. He took a 14 year lease on The Warren from 1860 and retained the Church Street, Epsom, stables until 1861.

The death of John Foley Keely had been recorded on 9 May 1861 for the property eventually to be inherited by Peter Northall Laurie of Park Crescent, Regents Park, Middx. Laurie was admitted to the copyhold on 15 April 1863 and immediately sold it to Thomas Hughes of Epsom, gent, in consideration of the payment of £1102.10.0 to a third party.

The Hughes Brothers

Thomas Hughes had taken up occupation of the premises by 1862 and on acquisition had them enfranchised. Bill Eacott suggests that he was the eldest brother of David and John Hughes who trained at the Church Street (Horse and Groom) stables from 1861. A street directory has Thomas at Church Street in 1867 but he is listed as a 'Trainer of racehorses' in Worple Road between 1875 and 1882.

John Coleman

Coleman, a Veterinary Surgeon, had taken over the site by 1899. The Epsom Rate Book for 1900 shows John Coleman as owner/occupier of 'The Farm' - House, stables and yard in Church Street. He died on 8 June 1923 having been called from his sick bed to attend on Town Guard, the favourite for the Derby, as mentioned in The Times obituary John Francis Coleman, aged 61, was buried at Epsom Cemetery, 12 June 1923.

Sadly, notwithstanding Mr Coleman's ministrations, Town Guard was unplaced.

Stuart J Hyde

Hyde is reported to have trained on the site in 1924/5

The Farm Garage Ltd

A garage business had been established at 28 Church Street by 1927 when it was incorporated. The old Horse and Groom stable block was re-built as offices and showroom before July 1971 as shown by images at http://www.flickr.com.

Extract from the 1932 OS Map
Extract from the 1932 OS Map

Charles Stuart House and King's Lodge, office blocks, now stand on the site.

In Epsom Heritage, a tradition that Nell Gwynne's horses were stabled at what is now 24A/B Church Street has been discounted. Charles Stuart House is reported to have been built in two stages during the 1980's.

Brain Bouchard © 2012
With thanks to Bill Eacott for information on Thomas Scaith




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