The Hermitage

45 Church Street, Epsom,
and adjacent buildings - Clewer Cottage and The Acacias

Extract From 1843 Tithe Map
Extract From 1843 Tithe Map
The Hermitage Plot 621, Clewer Cottage Plot 620
& The Acacias Plot 618

The beginnings of Epsom are discussed in A Brief History on this website : the manor would have functioned about an axis connecting the home farm, Epsom Court, with the church on the present Hook Road/Church Street alignment. The hamlet of Epsom itself appears to have developed in Church Street running north from the church with the peasants first cultivating lighter soil to the east of the church [Introduction to Epsom, A pictorial history (White & Harte 1992)]. An incomplete list of rentals in 1549, however, contains only a single direct reference to 'one granary and a half acre of land called Dulles lying in Churchestrete' [at the north-western end].

The Hermitage

In Part 8 of Epsom Heritage page of this website, one is introduced to the Hermitage as follows: -
"...leaving the United Reformed Church behind, we come to the Hermitage at No. 45. At first glance, nothing very exceptional - but it can lay claim to being the oldest house in Epsom, the sole survivor from the pre-spa village. True it was much renovated in the past 20 years to fit it out for a further lease of life, this time as offices, but it contains elements dating back to 1600 and inside, its floor level is quite lower than its surrounds and its exterior was worked upon with the minimum of alteration. Immediately beyond are the old stables from another old house Acacia House or The Acacias which formerly stood where the modern villas are located now. There is also part of an old, possibly 18th century wall, one of many still to be found in Epsom."
The Hermitage, Church Street
The Hermitage, Church Street in August 1971
Image courtesy of Surrey Libraries and is held in the
Epsom & Ewell Local And Family History Centre

It is Grade II listed,1974, - ' C17/C18 Two storeys, rough-cast, three wide-spaced casements. Central C19 and modern tiled porch on posts. Old tiled roof, hipped to right. Central square stack. Tall brick stacks at side.' The property, also mentioned as 'An unassuming rendered cottage concealing an early timber frame behind', is reported to have the earliest timber house at the front, plastered, with a central chimney and originally four rooms. Subsequent extensions to the rear and on the right hand side were ancient additions.

The Hermitage with United Reformed Church to its left.
The Hermitage with United Reformed Church to its left.
Image courtesy of Brian Bouchard © 2013

Side view of The Hermitage from United Reformed Church.
Side view of The Hermitage from United Reformed Church.
Image courtesy of Brian Bouchard © 2013

South western corner of The Hermitage showing its double span and raised chimney stacks.
South western corner of The Hermitage showing its double span and raised chimney stacks.
Image courtesy of Brian Bouchard © 2013


No specific reference to this property may be found in the 1680 Survey of Epsom but it is noted as an abuttal occupied by John Parish who, or a son with the same name, was still there in 1684 & 1693 [Lehmann 9A & B10]. The 1755 Survey mentions a 'claim to hold by free deed in trust for the clerk of the Parish of Epsom and his successors a messuage and garden, being the schoolhouse, one quarter acre, abutting on Church Street...' The 'Clerk's house' freehold could well have been an endowment by a Lord of the Manor. The register of burials at St Martin's church includes: -
19 February 1721 Thos. Parish, Clerk, and 11 March 1742 Thomas Parish, Clerk.
On 20 April 1786, at St Clement Danes, Westminster, Samuel Parish married Mary Black. The bride's mother, Ann Black, had acquired a cottage on Church Street, Epsom, 13 November 1780, and following her death [buried St Martins 2 December 1786] the son in law, Samuel Parish, was described as 'of Epsom, parish clerk'. Samuel is mentioned as a 'bookseller' in Epsom during 1815.

Mr Samuel Parish's burial is recorded on 6 March 1831 - Altar Tomb 515

"Also MR. SAMUEL PARISH who Died March the 1st 1831 Aged 63 Years.

Also EDWARD PARISH Son of the above SAMUEL PARISH who died April the 28th 1840
Aged 31 years.

Also MARY wife of the above named MR. SAMUEL PARISH who died February the 6th 1850 Aged 88 years."

The will of Mary Parish, nee Black, dated 4 January 1839, devised the freehold house to a spinster daughter, Mary Ann Parish, for life. Miss Mary Ann Parish died on 13 January 1873 aged 79 years.

The Rev. Henry Parish (1791-1873), one of Mary Parish's sons, was a chaplain of the East India Company from 1820 to 1839 and Minister of Montpelier chapel, Twickenham, from 1844 for ten years. His marriage to Sarah, daughter of the late T. Stowers, Esq., of Charterhouse Square took place on 27 January 1820. A Memorial Inscription in St Martin's churchyard mentions that Sarah wife of Rev. Henry Parish had died 10 October 1852 [Reg. Brentford 12/1852].

The same tombstone shows that the Revd. Henry Parish, DCL, Retired Chaplain on the Bengal Establishment, died at Richmond, April 29 1873, Aged 81 - 'Precious in the sight of the Lord is the Death of his Saints'. It appears that he had re-married for his relict to be named Elizabeth Parish of 9 Park Hill, Richmond. By family arrangement [Lehmann 9C14], the widow gained possession of two cottages in Church Street one of which had been named the Hermitage, where she then resided, by 1890.


A problem arises from confusion with The Hermitage at 'Walton on the Hill, Epsom', sometimes abbreviated to just 'Epsom'. The records contain only sporadic references to the premises at 45 Church Street, Epsom: - The London Gazette reported 24 December 1875 that Charles Abraham Parker of the Hermitage, Epsom, with no business or occupation, had been declared bankrupt. His tenure had lasted only from 5 July to 20 August of that year - as disclosed in proceedings at the Old Bailey, 6 May 1878.

In the 1881 Census appear Henry and Elizabeth G Kember. Mrs Elizabeth Guy Kember's burial , aged 65, from Church Street, is recorded to have taken place in Epsom Cemetery on 20 January 1883. Her bereaved husband moved to Southport and did not join her in Plot D58A until 1897 when aged 85.

The 1900 Rate Book gives the owner of the property, at that date called Currabinny, as P Langlands with his tenant E K Chambers. Edward K Chambers, Junr. Examiner to Board of Education, and his wife ,Nora, an Artist, were enumerated in Currabinny for 1901. Mrs Chambers, Miniature Painter, had exhibited a portrait of Dr Clement Daniel at the Royal Academy in 1900 - by 1902 her address became Lansdowne Crescent, London.

In 1907, The Hermitage, Epsom may be found associated with two New Zealanders - Eric Wanklyn Maclean, Institute of Mechanical Engineers, and Arthur Edward Williams, Resident Fellow of the Royal Colonial Institute. The latter appears to have remained in the property during 1915, when he had become joint Hon. Secretary of the Hospital Committee until at least 1918.

Street Directories for 1922 & 1924 show Rupert Gold Fothergill at The Hemitage.

By 1927 Lt. Commander Archibald Colquhoun Bell, RN, (retd.) had taken up residence to stay until 1937. He was well known as a Naval historian and author - former colleague and friend of Lt Commander Rupert Thomas Gould, 'The Stargazer' and horologist.

Clewer Cottage, 47 Church Street.

In 1680 to the south of what became The Hermitage was a piece of land adjoining the orchard of John Parish [Lehmann 9B9]. Part of it, 50 feet in length and 32 feet wide, was surrendered by Robert Parker to his spinster sister, Sarah, on 30 October 1684, probably in anticipation of her marriage to John Steere. Before 15 October 1693 a messuage, bakehouse, & outhouses had been built on the land, which was then held and occupied by John Steere, junior, baker of Epsom, with Sarah his wife. The burials at St Martin's of John and Sarah Steere appear to have been recorded respectively on 13 August 1721 and 12 November 1738. On 13 May 1740, John Steere labourer of Epsom, their eldest son, was admitted to the copyhold. He sold it, occupied by John Harding and John Dawson on 29 October 1750, to Andrew Harding of Epsom, husbandman. The death of Andrew Harding was enrolled 12 May 1752 (buried St Martins the next day as 'Harden') for the property to descend to his son, only eight months of age, another John Harding in care of his mother Ann. Consequently, in the 1755 Survey the infant John Harding held a cottage on Church Street abutting the Clerk's house on the north-west part.

Reaching his majority, John Harding, mason late of Windsor, Berks., sold his messuages in the occupation of Widow Lewis and Dibble to John Baynham of London, victualler. On 7 June 1774. At the demise of John Baynham [Will proved 11 February 1779 - PROB 11/1049/359] the premises were inherited by his widow, Martha, enrolled 23 March 1779. Mrs Baynham of Croydon sold these messuages, then occupied by Richard Maybank and Jacob Levi, to Sarah Redford, widow of Epsom, 17 June 1785.

The burial of Mrs Sarah Redford, Church Street, Epsom, appears in St Martin's register for 22 February 1813. At her demise she had occupied this copyhold which passed to her daughter, Elizabeth.

A tombstone in the churchyard bears the inscription: -

who departed this Life February the 11th 1813 Aged 78 Years.

Also ELIZABETH REDFORD Daughter of the above
who died January 26th 1835 in the 73rd Year of her Age.

Elizabeth had been laid to rest with her mother on 2 February 1835.

Under a Will dated 30 September 1828 [Proved 24 February 1835 - PROB 11/1843/135] the premises were to be sold for the benefit of the deceased's nephews and nieces.

The purchaser became Joseph Lester, owner occupier of Plot 620 in the 1843 Tithe award terrier. On 1 September 1847, Joseph Lester sold the messuages on the east side of Church street, with the buildings 'for many years last past converted into and used as one messuage', to Herbert Ingram, 198 Strand, Middx., publisher of the Illustrated London News [Link To,] The latter having drowned in 1860, his widow Ann Ingram, 22 Palace Gardens, Kensington, Middx., inherited under his Will.

On 2 April 1884, Ann Ingram, then of Mount Felix, Walton on Thames, widow, sold the premises , converted into one messuage known as Clewer Cottage, to William Bristow, South Street, Epsom, furniture dealer for £250. He let it to Francis Townsend and had the copyhold enfranchised, 15 January 1896. Townsend was enumerated there with his family in 1901.

Bristow died in 1915 and during 1918 his son William Bristow, junior, conveyed Clewer Cottage to Martin Henry Benson of Highfield, Burgh Heath Road, Epsom, who was responsible for the development of the surrounding Grove Estate [SHCOL_8754]. Clewer Cottage was sold to Charles Osenton in 1929 [SHCOL_2702/2/2] for demolition and erection of a modern house, 47 Church Street, pictured to the left below.

Old stable block associated with The Acacias.
Old stable block associated with The Acacias.
Image courtesy of Brian Bouchard © 2013

As mentioned in Epsom Heritage - Part 8 : - 'Immediately beyond [The Hermitage] are the old stables from another old house, Acacia House or The Acacias, which formerly stood where the modern villas are located now. There is also part of an old, possibly 18th century wall, one of many still to be found in Epsom'.

The Acacias, (49 ) Church Street

Gordon Home, writing in Epsom, its history and surroundings, remarks that 'The Acacias, facing the Worple Road, is a lovely old house with cream-washed walls and a steep tiled roof..'.

The late Hans Lehmann at 9B8 tells us: -
"Thomas Parker, of Epsom, carpenter, on 26 March1680 entailed his cottage on the north side of Toms Lane to himself and Margaret his wife for life, then to his son, Robert Parker on the condition that Robert Parker pays to his sister Rachel 50s, to his sister Jane, the wife of John page of London, 50s and to his sister Sarah £10 within six months of the demise of Thomas Parker. On 30 October. 1684 Thomas Parker and Margaret, his wife, surrendered the cottage on the north side of Toms Lane to their son Robert Parker, subject to the earlier conditions, and on the same day Robert Parker of Epsom, glazier, surrendered part of the property [see Clewer Cottage above] to his sister Sarah.
On 22 February 1685 Robert Parker mortgaged the messuage recently erected upon a piece of land now the garden or orchard to the said messuage belonging, abutting on Church Street on the south-west part, and on Toms Lane on the south-west part..."
Over time there were various changes in the mortgage arrangements until
"On 8 Dec. 1698 Robert Parker together with Thomas Harris transferred the mortgage for £358.15 to be paid on 9th June next to Abraham Wood of Wooton, gardener, Thomas Harris acknowledging satisfaction, and on 20 March 1699 Robert Parker of Epsom, glazier and Abraham Wood sold the property in the bought the messuage etc froccupation of Robert Parker to Everard Fawkener, citizen and grocer of London and Elizabeth his wife, Abraham Wood acknowledging satisfaction of his mortgage. On the same day Everard Fawkener obtained a licence to take in 2 feet-in breadth of the waste in Toms Lane next adjoining to the said messuage and the court next the street to build a brick or stone wall thereupon, the said piece of waste to consist in length from the east corner of the said messuage to the pale fencing the south-west side of the said court next to the street called Church Street".
The descent of Everard Fawkner's real estate to Peter Bulkley by 1747 may be found detailed in Lehmann 9B7: on 29 February 1748 the latter mortgaged all his Epsom properties to John Baynham of Birchin Lane, London, victualler. In 1755, therefore, Peter Bulkley held this 'messuage, coachhouse, washhouse, brewhouse stable and garden, about half an acre, abutting on Church Street on the south-west part, on Lord Baltimore' land on the north-east part [later The Grove estate], on Toms Lane on the South- east part...' Captain Peter Bulkley, mariner, died in 1759 and Baynham was licensed to let the properties under mortgage to him. During 1770 there was a financial arrangement with Bulkley's surviving legatees which resulted in John Baynham gaining possession.

At the demise of John Baynham [Will proved 11 February 1779 - PROB 11/1049/359] the premises were inherited by his widow, Martha, enrolled 23 March 1779. Mrs Baynham of Croydon sold them to John Everest of Epsom, gentleman [presumably the prominent local Solicitor who died at Ewell in 1821]. They were held by him until 21 December 1820 when purchased by John Whitmore, the younger of Epsom, Esq. Whitmore let the property to Henry Miller of Epsom for 21 years from 25 March 1822. Trayton Peter Pagden, brewer of Epsom, bought the messuage etc from John Whitmore, then of Clapham, on 2 February 1742 for £520. Pagden re-let to Henry Miller for a further 14 years from 6 April 1843.

Henry Miller had married Ann Shirley Newdick at Chesunt, Herts., on 14 March 1814 and withdrew on half pay from the Royal Marines, 1 September 1814. The baptisms of children from their union appear in St Martin's registers. A MI in the churchyard has been transcribed: -

In Memory of HENRY MILLER who departed this Life December 8th 1849 Aged 59 Years.
Take ye heed watch and pray: For ye know not when the Time is.St. Mark, C.H.X111.V.33.

ANN SHIRLEY MILLER Relict of the above Departed on the11thDay of August 1857
Aged 68 Years.

I Believe in the communion of saints the forgiveness of sins:
The resurrection of the body:and the life everlasting.

The Will of Henry Miller, Lieutenant on half pay Royal Marine Forces was proved 2 January 1850 - PROB 11/2106/369 - and his widow, on 27 August 1857 - PROB 11/2256/339.

Following the death of T P Pagden, by his Will reported to have been proved 5 November 1879, the premises were passed down to his son, Robert Pagden. At that time they were occupied by Frederick Pagden. Enfranchisement of he copyhold took place on 11 January 1884. The burial in Epsom Cemetery of Robert Pagden, brewer, Woodcote, Epsom, aged 69, took place on 17 October 1893.

Frederick Pagden appears in the 1900 Rate Book as owner/occupier of The Acacias. As 'Frederic' he was also buried in Epsom Cemetery, 1 March 1904, having died on 26 February 1904 aged 75.

In 1930 and 1931 the building became office accommodation for Epsom Urban District Council prior to the erection of a new Town Hall on The parade, 1933/4.

This house was then demolished in 1935. Fortunately, the late Cloudesley S Willis had been alerted and managed to survey the property, providing a description which was published in Surrey Archaeological Collections, Vol. XLV (45), in 1937: -
"Number 49, dating from about 1680, stood on the east side [of Church Street] facing west. It was a square brick house, afterwards distempered, of two storeys, garrets with dormer windows, and a basement; the middle compartment of the front elevation broke forward; and it had a bold hipped tile roof with a moulded wood cornice and modillions. The front door was central and had a segmental headed wooden porch approached by stone steps with wrought-iron handrails with twisted newels. The iron front railings had been removed some years earlier. The chimneys projected outwards on the end walls. The ground-floor rooms were panelled in pine. The original heavy sash-bars remained in the south end of the front. The hall led to the garden door opposite the front door; and contained the staircase which had a handrail and balusters of Georgian date. But the original vase-shaped balusters remained in the basement staircase. There was a quantity of fifteenth-century stone mouldings and tracery in the building, probably re-used material from Nonsuch and Merton Priory. C. S. Willis".

Brian Bouchard
January 2013

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