The Shrubbery

53 South Street, Epsom

The Shrubbery in South Street, built in the 1680s, was demolished after vandalism; the site is now a roundabout.
The Shrubbery in South Street, built in the 1680s, was demolished
after vandalism; the site is now a roundabout.
Image courtesy of Jeremy Harte, Curator, Bourne Hall Museum

The Shrubbery stood where traffic emerging from Ashley Avenue into South Street is now divided either side of an island with flowerbeds. The old building had suffered from two fires in November 1976 before demolition 3/4 April 1977.

Architectural salvage included the front and rear doors with door cases, the front railings, an early 19th century Gothic door, a section of the stair balustrade, window shutters, a hall arch, a chimney pot and an open alcove cupboard but the material has since been dispersed. A collection of late 17th century wallpapers were recovered from beneath some panelling notably of the Stag Hunt design, derived from a tapestry pattern and dated to circa 1690, in a first floor front room. Another piece similar to the embroidery style known as 'black-work', in which patterns of flowers and fruit were stitched in black and silver thread on a white ground is held by the Victoria and Albert Museum. A similar example from Boots in Kingston upon Thames has a fleur-de-lis watermark that suggests a possible date of around 1680 - only a handful of pre-1700 papers survive.

A back view of the Shrubbery. Its half-sunk basement made it one of the few three-storey buildings in old Epsom.
A back view of the Shrubbery. Its half-sunk basement made it one of the few three-storey buildings in old Epsom.

At the end of its existence the premises were used for offices having previously been in multiple occupation. In the middle of the 19th century a north wing was added to the main block and the bricks rendered.

During 1970 the house had been listed Grade II described as:-
"Early C18. Two storeys, basement and attic, cemented. Five modern sashes, cased frames. Central doorway approached by splayed steps with original wrought iron railings. Corinthian pilastered doorcase with frieze, cornice and radiating fanlight. Modern door. Dentilled eaves cornice, old tile roof with large modern dormers. Interior has closed string staircase with slender vase-shaped balusters. Bolection moulded window surrounds throughout. 3 panelled rooms, 2 on 1st floor (in south east and south west corners), and 1 on ground floor, which has a round-arched niche with modillions below upper shelf; all have low moulded dados. 2 depressed arches with keystones, taken on panelled pilasters, 1 opposite stairs on 1st floor, and 1 at rear of hall. 2 later copies of these divide hall from south-west ground floor room."
Despite being a freehold estate its early history can be traced with the aid of H L Lehmann's The residential copyholds of Epsom. Item 3B16 shows that before 1755 it had become the property of John Winchester of Epsom, cornchandler, consisting of three messuages, a shop, washhouse, stables, gardens and a close of pasture, 2 acres. According to 3C16, Winchester's children were owners in 1780 and John Winchester only the occupier, although he is again named proprietor in 1786. William Winchester held it from 1793 until his death that was recorded on 1 April 1820. By the time of a survey for the 1843 Tithe Map James Chandler was owner/occupier of plots 480, 481, two houses, & 481(a) the later being the site of brewery buildings. There had been numerous tenants.

The 1843 Tithe Map - Click to enlarge
Extract from 1843 Tithe Map with plots 480, 481 and 481a highlighted
click to enlarge.

Some particulars of an auction sale at the King's Head Inn, Epsom, on 21 August 1850 are held at Surrey History Centre, ref. 2156/14, describing: -
"Lot I, two well-built residences in New Inn Lane, in the occupation of Mr. Rutley and Mrs. Spear. The front is divided from the main road by a neat iron fence, and the approach is by a flight of stone steps. The house in the occupation of Mrs. Spear includes a dining parlour 15ft 6in by 15ft, and a commodious closet, a lofty and convenient kitchen with scullery adjoining, on the one pair is a cheerful and lofty drawing room 15ft 3in square, with a recess, and two excellent bedrooms, the upper floor has two bedrooms. In the basement is ample cellarage. A moderate-sized garden with a right of way constitutes a back entrance. The house in the occupation of Mr. Rutley is of similar elevation and consists of a cheerful entrance, an excellent dining parlour 15ft square, spacious and lofty kitchen; on the one-pair two airy bedrooms with closets, on the upper floor three bedrooms, in the basement is extensive cellarage; a detached scullery, and a moderately-sized garden constituting a back entrance."
James Chandler, senior, had given up his ironmongery trade in 1824 to set up a partnership with his son, also named James, as brewers and maltsters. Before 1857, however, this had been dissolved and the father declared bankrupt - he died circa 1869. William Bradley took over the brewery to rebuild it during 1870 for the production of ale and porter.

In the 1881 Census, The Shrubbery was occupied by Arthur O'Brien Jones, surgeon; his neighbour is shown as James Chandler, 65, Retired brewer [James Chandler's burial, aged 79, is recorded to have taken place at Epsom cemetery on 19 March 1895.]

Newspapers recorded, 7 May 1889,
"A Supposed Suicide. A painful sensation has been caused at Epsom by the death of Mr Arthur O'Brien Jones, surgeon to the Metropolitan Police, Epsom Division. He was found on Wednesday night lying dead in his room with a phial of prussic acid* by his side and also, it is said, a statement written by himself. Mr Jones had spent over 50 years in Epsom, being about 76 years of age. He was surgeon for several public institutions and though of somewhat eccentric character was much esteemed. No reason has been forthcoming to explain this event."
Arnold Sandars Harrison appears as a resident in 1915 before he took over Hylands, later Whitmores.


Brian Bouchard © 2010
Member of Leatherhead and District Local History Society


(* Webmasters note: also known as hydrogen cyanide)

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