Epsom Court

alias Epsom Lodge or Court Farm
formerly the Saxon manor house of Epsom established upon a Roman site?


A Watercolour of Epsom Court dated 1830
Image courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

The Location
It may be conjectured that a Roman road linked the villa and tile-works on Ashtead Common to the site of Epsom Court Farm where Toland, in his letter descriptive of Epsom from 1711, mentioned Roman remains. This would have extended from Woodcock Corner on the parish boundary, proceeding south of the present B280 Chessington Road and Christchurch Road to Clayhill Green. Seller's map of 1690 indicates a secondary route to Ewell which passed Ashtead's Woodfield before continuing north of Ebsham Wells and then on by Ebsham Court generally following a line suggested by Reginald White on his map in Ancient Epsom (1928). This way would have crossed a stream which still issues from The Cricketers' pond at Stamford Green but has been contained in a culvert below Christchurch Road. At some time in history, however, a ford here would have been lined with imported stones (likely to have been flints) to improve the going over clay and so the location became known as Stamford as a corruption of the Old English stan [stone] ford. Then, as a letter in The Times of 31 August 1925 reported, 'at the back of West Hill House, Epsom, there was a piece of Roman road showing ... [which] might only have gone to Ebba's Hame, the Court Farm, Epsom'. From Clay Hill Green the route continued along the present bridle path, Pound Lane. The supposed Roman road appears on the 18th century Rocque map included later in this piece.

16th Century
The Register or Memorial of Ewell dating to 1408 made it possible for Philip Shearman to draw up conjectural maps of Ewell as the Parish might have been about that date. West Street, as Gallows Lane, is shown connecting at the parish boundary with a way running North to South from Kingston towards Epsom. A deed from the time of Henry VII (1485 - 1507) mentions 'the royal road called Gallowstrete that leads from Ewell to Epysham'. The Chertsey Cartulary includes a reference from the 16th century to John Treughston's copyhold croft named Lyk Smythiscroft lying between the meadow called lewardmede and the King's way [via regia, or public right of way] heading out of Ewell to Ebbisham Court.

Hudsons Lane
In the 17th century Hudson's Lane started from the eastern end of Epsom High Street, containing the Golden Ball in 1686, and provided access to Epsom Court. Rocque' map from circa 1768, of which an enlarged extract is reproduced below, shows (highlighted in yellow) Hudsons Lane turning in a dogleg to join Kingston Lane as a way to Epsom Court. James Edwards in his Companion from London to Brighthelmston, 1789, tells us, however, that 'on the north [of the High Street] is a house in the occupation of Mr Meade, Surgeon. From hence is a foot road over the fields to Epsom Court which lies half a mile to the north, an ancient Saxon seat, said to be the residence of one Ebba from whom this village received its name. It has for many years been converted into a farm house, and contains a small manor, the property of Mr Parkhurst'.The ancient footpath running due north, directly to Epsom Court, which would have provided a short cut across the fields, is shown later on the first edition OS Map [and it survives as a right of way to the present day, pictured below].

The public footpath leaving Waterloo Road
The public footpath leaving Waterloo Road
(formerly Waterloo Station Road) - John Toland's Hudsons Lane.
Image courtesy of Brian Bouchard © January 2013

Proceeding along the eastern edge of Court Recreation Ground
Proceeding along the eastern edge of Court Recreation Ground
Image courtesy of Brian Bouchard © January 2013

Arriving opposite the entrance to Court House Mansions
Arriving opposite the entrance to Court House Mansions
erected on the site of Epsom Court, the ancient manor-house
Image courtesy of Brian Bouchard © January 2013

Epsom Court on Rocques Map
Epsom Court on Rocques Map

The Beginnings
Little is known about the earliest settlement of Epsom but John Toland refers both to Hudson's Lane and Epsom Court, 'that ancient Saxon seat long since converted into a farm' before, in Des Maizeaux's version, adding another footnote:-
"In old writings it's likewise call'd Ebbysham-place: now only a great name and nothing more to be seen, but an oblong square area rais'd higher than the other ground on the south-east of the house. Abundance of wrought stone, of Roman bricks and tile as are often dug up about the farm and some of the fields do yet preserve the name of a Park".
The implication that a Roman villa one stood in this location could be supported by a ready availability of fresh water from a stream running north of the site and featured on the earliest OS maps. This was probably Toland's 'rivulet over Epsom court-meadow'.

In 727 Frithwald, sub-regulus of Surrey, and Bishop Erkenwald, are said to have granted to their newly founded abbey of Chertsey twenty mansas of land in Epsom: this was confirmed by King Edgar in 967, and in the Domesday Survey Epsom is mentioned among the possessions of Chertsey Abbey.

Land would have been held by the Abbey 'in demesne' but references to the manor house do not appear in the early records. Presumably the principal building would have been used as a 'grange' - an outlying farm with tithe barns, belonging to the monastery or feudal lord - occupied by a 'reeve' (an appointed manorial official). This situation continued until dissolution of the monasteries and Henry VIII seizure of Epsom manor in 1537. According to Epsom, A Pictorial History, White And Harte 1992, : - "Originally the demesne farm of the manor, it [Epsom Court] was leased to tenants after the dissolution of Chertsey Abbey. It was rebuilt in the early 16th century and side wings were added one hundred years later." - as shown by the opening image dated to 1830. Although the tenanted farm building was not occupied by successive Lords of the Manor, it would have carried the name, 'Epsom Court' as the place where meetings of the Court Baron [A manorial court concerned with land transactions and tenurial duties to the lord of the manor were held over the years.

A Parkhurst possession in the 18th century
Following the death of Mrs Ricarda Parkhurst nee Dormer in 1770, Epsom Court, the old manor house, with the great tithes and advowson of St Martin of Tours' Church descended to the Rev. John Parkhurst by family arrangement. [Will of Ricarda Parkhurst, Widow of Catesby, Northamptonshire, proved 27 March 1770 - PROB 11/956/110.]

The Rev John Parkhurst died in his 69th year on 21 February 1797 and was buried at St Martin's, 2 March, 1797. Mrs Millecent Parkhurst's interment followed on 3 May 1800

Events in the 19th century
The tenant about this time could have been the Mr John Palmer who was interred in St Martin's churchyard during December 1801. An advertisement appeared in The Morning Chronicle, 22 September 1806, offering for sale Meadow Hay and Clover, Straw, Farming Utensils and Effects of the late John Palmer on the premises, Epsom Court farm. His widow was continuing to wind up the business in 1807.

In Some particulars relating to the history of Epsom, 1825, Henry Pownall writes that
"Epsom Court,which was formerly the manor-house of Epsom, is undoubtedly of great antiquity. It was an ancient Saxon seat, and (as stated by Mr. Toland) the residence of Queen Ebba. The remains of its former grandeur have wholly disappeared, and it is now only a respectable farm-house, in the occupation of Mr. Cook, with about 300 acres of land. It was not sold with the manor, and is now with the great tythes the property of Mrs. Millecent Thomas, widow of the Rev. Joseph Thomas, deceased, and daughter of the late, Rev. John Parkhurst. Upon the death of Mrs. Thomas, this estate, with the great tythes, and other landed property in the parish, will revert to the Rev Fleetwood Parkhurst the present vicar of Epsom should he survive her".
The Rev. Joseph Thomas died at Abele Grove on 22 March 1811 but his widow, Millecent, lived on until 20 February 1831 when she expired at Cosgrove, Northamptonshire, aged 67.

A tomb in St Martin's churchyard bears the following inscriptions:

South Side
In this vault are likewise deposited the remains of
CAROLINA ELIZABETH FRANCES THOMAS
third daughter of the
Revd. JOSEPH and MILLECENT THOMAS
who died the 4th of April 1800, Aged 10 weeks.

Also the remains of the Revd. JOSEPH THOMAS
who died the 22nd of March 1811 Aged 45 years.

Top
Here resteth in hope of a joyful Resurrection to
Life eternal the Body of SUSANNA PARKHURST
youngest daughter of JOHN MYSTER Esq.
and wife of the Revd. JOHN PARKHURST
she departed this Life December the (2nd) 1759 Aged 57 Years.
Leaving three children SUSANNA, JOHN and CHARLES

Also the remains of the said Rev. JOHN PARKHURST
who died 21st of February 1797 aged 68 Years.

Also the remains of MILLECENT PARKHURST
Second wife (relict) of the said JOHN PARKHURST
who died 27th of April 1800 Aged 79 years.

In the 1841 Census, the tenant farmer is named as Rebecca Cooke, aided by three grown up sons. For the 1843 Tithe award, Epsom Court farmhouse and its numerous fields were owned by the Rev. Fleetwood Parkhurst but let to the widowed Rebecca Cooke.

Extract From 1843 Tithe Map
Extract From 1843 Tithe Map

As shown by a MI in St Martin's churchyard she expired within a year: -

Sacred to the Memory of MRS. REBECCA COOKE
Relict of the late MR. RICHARD COOKE of this Parish who departed this Life
the 28th of May 1844 Aged 56 Years.
[Buried 3 June 1844]

The Will of Rebecca Cooke, Widow of Epsom, Surrey, came to be proved 3 July 1844 - PROB 11/2001/211.

The Rev. Fleetwood Parkhurst, Vicar of Epsom 1804 - 1839, Curate of Perin near Penzance, died on 29 October 1844. He passed away not at the family seat, Ripple Hall, near Tewkesbury, Worcs., but according to his boyhood friend at Rugby School, Walter Savage Landor, in the street at Bristol. Landor wrote in a letter: - 'Little as poor Parkhurst is to be respected, I am shocked and grieved at his death. A happier one, however, there could not be. I shall often think of our early friendship and our happier days.' Fleetwood Parkhurst's death in fact came to be registered at Cheltenham for the December Quarter of 1844 and it is most likely that he expired at the home of his brother in law Anthony Rosenhagen on The Promenade, Cheltenham.[Will proved 5 July 1845 -PROB 11/2021/297].

Edward Wedlake Brayley wrote in A topographical history of Surrey, 1850, that: -
"Epsom Court was anciently the manor-house, but is now only a farm-house, with an estate of about three hundred acres attached to it. It was not sold with the manor after the death of Mrs. Ricarda Parkhurst, but with the great tithes became the property of Mrs. Millicent Thomas, widow of the Rev. Joseph Thomas, and daughter of the Rev. John Parkhurst, author of the celebrated Lexicon: and from her they passed to the late Rev. Fleetwood Parkhurst, vicar of Epsom."
On Fleetwood Parkhurst's demise the Epsom property, plus Ripple Manor, seems to have descended (probably as a life tenancy) to his relict, Mrs Mary Eleanor Parkhurst, who survived until the age of 90 - death reg. Clifton, 3/1869.

In the 1851 Census, the farmer, working 393a 3r 12p, was 28 years old Trew Jegon, born at St Bennet's Pauls Wharf, but in that year he married Eliza Barnett in Cookham, Bucks., and subsequently became a Slate Quarry Proprietor at Chalvey Park, Upton upon Chalvey, Bucks.

A hand-book of Epsom by C J. Swete, 1860, mentions that the farmhouse with 300 acres was then in the occupation of Mr Price. This tenant can be identified as William Peters Price who died early in the following year as shown by the following MI in St Martin's churchyard:

In Memory of WILLIAM PETERS PRICE Late of Stanwell, Middlesex
Born 22nd February, 1810 Died 31st January, 1861 Aged 51 Years.
Also of GEORGE PETERS PRICE Son of WILLIAM PETERS & MARY PRICE
who died 10th October, 1856 Aged 19 Years.
Also of FREDERICK PRICE who died 3rd February, 1857 Aged 7 months.
Also of HARRY PRICE who Died 8th August 1857 Aged 4 Years.

He had lived at Hanwell and farmed a copyhold in Stanwell where he was succeeded by his minor son William Peters Price, junior. His relict Mary Price appears in the 1861 Census, with her surviving children, farming 400 acres. Since the youngest son, then aged 9, had been born at Stanwell one may infer that Mr Price has succeeded Trew Jago about 1852.

1886 OS Map - Click image to enlarge
An extract from the 1866 OS Map
showing Epsom Court and, to the north, New Farm
Click image to enlarge

Following the death of his widowed mother in 1869, ownership of Epsom Court had been passed down to the Rev Fleetwood Parkhurst's only son, Henry Fleetwood Parkhurst. An 1872 lease held by Surrey History Centre [SHCOL_2200] shows that the latter leased part of Epsom Court farmland for 21 years to be used by The Board of Health for the treatment of sewage.

William Minter was a cowkeeper at 5 Marys Place, Coldharbour Lane, Brixton in 1870. For the1871 census, however, he appears at Epsom Court Farm, Epsom, Surrey, as William H Minter, farmer of 327 acres, 12 men and 6 boys. Listed in Post Office Directory, Surrey 1874 as William Honeywood Minter, cowkeeper, Court Farm, Epsom.

Henry Fleetwood Parkhurst died on 16 December 1879, unmarried aged 80 at 9 Leicester Place, Clifton,Bristol, for his Will, with four codicils, to be proved by Sophia Cooper, spinster, and Robert Landor. Surprisingly, his net personal estate had been valued at less £1,000 but the real estate could have been held for his benefit in trust.

Papers in the National Archives at reference C 14/432/P71 indicate that a dispute had arisen in 1845, Parkhurst v Parkhurst, following the death of the Rev Fleetwood Parkhurst. The plaintiff had been Henry Fleetwood Parkhurst and defendants Mary Eleanor Parkhurst1, widow, Robert Parkhurst2, Parkhurst Chase3, Revd. George Hill Clifton4 and William Thorniloe Horniblow5. By a Bill of Revivor [the name of a bill in chancery used to renew an original bill which for some reason has become inoperative], filed in 1850, the plaintiff remained unchanged but the defendants became John Chase6 and his wife. An amending order in 1878 appears to have added Temple Hamilton Chase and Drummond Percy Chase7 as defendants(?). In 1880, following Henry Fleetwood Parkhurst's death proceedings continued with Temple Hamilton Chase and Drummond Percy Chase as plaintiffs and Sophia Cooper and Robert Landor, Parkhurst's Executors, as defendants. The brothers were both reverend gentlemen. Temple Hamilton Chase became a Fellow of Trinity College Oxford, 1843- 1855, then incumbent of Lydbrook, Glos. Drummond Percy Chase, DD, was Principal of St Mary Hall and Vicar of St Mary's, Oxford. As Trustees they came into possession of the Parkhurst family's estates at Ripple near Tewkesbury. Later events reveal that the Chases gained possession and sold off the Epsom Court land.

By the 1881 Census Thomas Brown, an unmarried man aged 29, has taken over to farm 325 acres, employing 12 men and 4 boys. This tallies with Charman's Reminiscences - 'Proceeding to Pound Lane, we pass Epsom Court Farm (Brown was the farmer). In front of the school was a large open dyke, through which flowed the surface water from Epsom Common.' Brown was still there in 1891 with his brother as Bailiff. The former 'Homestead' had become Court Farm Cottage.

George W Challis reminisced about this area as it would have been at the turn of the 19th century: -
"At this time, there were quite a number of farms in the town - Skeltons in Church Road, Jay's in Albert Road, Taylors, Longdown, Templeton and Browns and Miles in Kingston Lane, now Hook Road. A favourite walk was down Kingston Lane on a Sunday evening after leaving East Street. There were four cottages this side of the bridge, the next two were beyond the Isolation Hospital. The land in between these was used as grazing fields, orchards and market gardens. There was a blacksmiths shop adjoining Miles Farm - Mileoaks was named from this. Where the hospital stands were gravel pits worked by the Council. The gravel and flint from here were used on the paths and roads in the town. At this time, a good sized road was on the corner of Howard Lane which was just a cart track to Templeton Farm. This farmhouse with two cottages was surrounded by fields for a considerable distance. There was a big meadow where the school and Lower Court Road now stands. A stream used to run through this and was well stocked with tiddlers. One could also pick cowslips here in the spring".
In 1895, Epsom Court Farm began to be divided up [from the evidence of a conveyance in that year, by Rev Temple Hamilton Chase] for building and there was a proposal to upgrade Kingston Lane, the road from Epsom to Surbiton. The improved road became known as Hook Road. Gordon Home writes of it in Epsom, its history and surroundings, 1901, 'Just where a pleasant lane, now known as the Hook Road (formerly Kingston Lane), leaves Epsom in a northerly direction, there has arisen a cluster of yellow brick, blue slated cottages, so that instead of passing straight from the town into open country, with picturesque honeysuckle laden hedges on either hand, which was possible four or five years ago, one must be content with an asphalt pavement and cast iron railings or uninteresting wooden fences for some distance'.

Ending in the 20th century
The 1900 Rate Book shows Epsom Court Farm owned by Rev T H Chase with the occupier John Templeton: the latter himself owned some of Epsom Court's Cottages. The Reverend Temple Hamilton Chase, late of Clevedon, Somerset, died on 24 October 1903.

John Templeton from Scotland, aged 38, whose daughter had been born three years previously in Epsom, is named as the farmer at Epsom Court in the 1901 Census. Mr Templeton remained there 15 years later as reported in Epsom 1915 for August - 'A quantity of hay was destroyed by fire in a field off Thornton-hill. It was the property of Mr. John Templeton, of Court Farm'.

1913 OS Map - Click image to enlarge
An extract from the 1913 OS Map
showing Epsom Court and, to the north, New Farm
Click image to enlarge

By 1913 Epsom Court Farm had been greatly reduced in area with housing development along Hook Road and New Farm incorporated as Horton Asylum Farm.

As shown by the following extract from the 1932 OS Map, Court Farm House still survived at that date. Subsequently it has been demolished before the erection of Court House Mansions, south and west of Eastway, depicted earlier. Twenty-one acres of the farmland became the Court recreation ground and 'The Chase Estate' reflects former ownership.

Extract From 1932 OS Map
Extract From 1932 OS Map



Brian Bouchard
With grateful acknowledgement of invaluable contributions from Linda Jackson.
January 2013

Footnotes
  1. Believed to be Fleetwood Parkhurst's widow and Henry Fleetwood Parkhurst's mother.
  2. Fleetwood Parkhurst's younger brother, b. 1798, d.s.p. in 1847.
  3. Son of John Woodford Chase & Louisa Ann Millicent nee Thomas, c. 12 October 1822 at St Nicholas, Brighton. Lieutenant RN, 1847. Russian ("Crimean") War - amongst those killed in the British squadron 1854 was Lieutenant Parkhurst Chase aboard HMS Albion.
  4. Rector of Ripple, Worcs., probably a Trustee.
  5. Churchwarden and overseer, Ripple, ditto.
  6. Presumably Captain John Woodford Chase who married Louisa Anne Millicent nee Thomas (daughter of Rev. Joseph Thomas and Millecent Parkhurst - grand-daughter of the late, Rev. John Parkhurst.
  7. Sons of Captain John Woodford Chase.


HV Usill
HV Usill
Jimmy Page
Jimmy Page
Page Family
Page Family
TH Snow
TH Snow
JA Larby
JA Larby
J Harrison
J Harrison
Foundlings
Foundlings
Nonsuch Mansion
Nonsuch Mansion
New Stables
New Stables