The Black Spread Eagle, High Street, Epsom,

later known simply as The Spread Eagle.

A Double Black Spread Eagle.
A Double Black Spread Eagle.
Image Source

The double-headed eagle has been used as an emblem by countries, nations, and royal houses in Europe since the early Medieval period. Epsom's sign of the Black Spread Eagle has been suggested to be a 'symbol of Prussia, an ally in that period', also in Epsom, a Pictorial History, by Trevor White and Jeremy Harte, it was remarked to have 'referred to the Austrian heraldic crest which appeared on imported wine bottles, and for many years a double-headed eagle swung on the signpost at the corner '. Images found on late 18th century invoices are remarkably similar to arms of the Glyn family of Ewell but that local connection could only post-date Richard Glyn's marriage to Susannah Lewen on 8 June 1736.

The Glyn Coat Of Arms
The Glyn Coat Of Arms

The property has been listed Grade II as
'Late C17 with later stucco finish. Two storeys basement and attic, five modern sash windows, parapet, square tall hipped old tile roof with 3 flat topped sashed dormers with glazing bars. Central doorway approached by steps; hanging canopy on iron suspenders with dentilled cornice; fluted pilasters. Portion to right two storeys, ground floor a wide vehicle entrance, 1st floor large overhanging sashed canted bay window with two sashes to centre. Plain eaves, hipped tile roof. Portion further to right, similar general character, modern alterations. North front generally similar character, modern glazed entrance with double flight of steps'.
Detailed information about the tenure this real estate may be found in H L Lehmann's Residential Copyholds of Epsom under 5A1/5B1/5C1 & 5C2.

Epsom Races, 1846 - The Spread Eagle.
Epsom Races, 1846 - The Spread Eagle.
Source not known

In 1680 Samuel Hawkins, as guardian of his son James, held one messuage, one stable, one garden, one orchard and one parcel of land, 1 acre, abutting on the lands of John Wrench on the south and east parts, and on the street on the north and west parts.

James Hawkins died in 1684, and his brother Isaac Hawkins, citizen and grocer of London, was admitted to his properties on 13 October 1684. From 10 December 1705 Isaac Hawkins surrendered his properties to the use of his will, and his death was enrolled 7 November 1709. The property before then had came into the possession of Hawkins' mortgagee, Richard Hammond, citizen and brewer of London.

The Norths

Blackwell North, son of Henry and Elizabeth, was baptised at St Dunstan in the West, Fleet Street, London, on 9 October 1692.

From 15 February 1709 under the will of his father, Richard Hammond, the only son of Richard Hammond deceased, was admitted to the property. He surrendered it on 29 May 1710 to his sister Elizabeth Hammond, and she further surrendered the premises on the same day to Henry North and Elizabeth his wife.

Since Toland does not mention the Spread Eagle in 1711, but does in his New Description of Epsom which was published probably before 1718, the inn is assumed to have been established following Henry North's acquisition of the property in 1710.

On 23 March 1716 Elizabeth North widow and Blackwell North of Epsom, vintner, son and heir of Henry North of Epsom, cook, entailed the property to themselves and their heirs: -
All that copyhold messuage or tenement, barns, stables. gardens, orchards, yards, and backsides, and a close of land adjoining on the east side of the said messuage, commonly known and called by the name or sign of the Black-spread Eagle, …in the tenure or occupation of the said Elizabeth North and Blackwell North…
On 13 May 1717 Elizabeth North obtained a licence to let… the Black Spread Eagle for 31 years. From 27 January 1723 Elizabeth North surrendered the Black Spread Eagle … to her son Blackwell North who surrendered them to the use of his will, 26 May 1725. On 22 May 1751 Blackwell North surrendered the two messuages according to a settlement of 20 April 1724 in contemplation of his marriage to Rachel Noden of Woodmanstern, Surrey, spinster [Blackwell North and Rachel Noden's wedding had taken place at Banstead, 23 April 1724].

Robert Parker, junior, of Epsom, brewer, granted a lease for 45 years from 19 September 1726 to Blackwell North of Epsom, vinter, of a wine vault lately erected on part of Birding Bush Shot to the east of Epsom Church with right of way to the vaults, a shop on the south side of Epsom with land lying within the pales next to the street, the ground where the necessary house of the Widow Reeves stands and the way leading to it. Rent: £ 10 per annum [Surrey History Centre 4441/1].

Elizabeth North was brought to be interred in St Martin's church, 30 April 1735.

At the death of Blackwell North [buried at St Martins 8 October 1753 - Will of Blackwell North, Vintner of Ebbisham, Surrey, proved 24 October 1753, PROB 11/804/403], Rachel North was admitted on 2 January 1754, surrendered the properties to the use of her will, and obtained a licence to let both premises for 21 years. In the 1755 survey the property is described as two messuages (one called the Black Spread Eagle), coach houses, stables and other outhouses and gardens, one and a half acres, abutting on the High Street and on the lane leading to Town Mead on the west part, on Sarah Wrench's copyhold land on the east part, on the footpath leading to the church on the south part, and on the street leading to Ewell on the north part.

Mrs Rachel North was buried at Epsom on 1 July 1764.

Extract from manuscript copy of inscriptions made by Mr. A. R. Bax c. 1880, on the pavement in the chancel: -
'Here lyeth the body of HENRY NORTH Citizen of ... Departed .... of September .... Lord 17 .. Year of his age. Also in Memory of RACHEL NORTH Wife of BLACKWELL NORTH who died June the 26th 1761[4?], Aged 67 years. Here also lyeth the body of ELIZABETH NORTH Wife of HENRY NORTH who departed this life April the 29th 1735 Aged 79 years. Here also lyeth the body of BLACKWALL [sic] NORTH Son of ... & ELIZABETH NORTH Departed this life .... 4th 1753 Aged 6..
Rachel North's death was recorded on 22 Oct. 1764, and in her will, dated 21 May 1764 which was produced to the court on 20 May 1765, she devised the Black Spread Eagle to her nephew Henry Noden.

George Griffith(s), otherwise Griffits, tenant

Following the death of Rachel North, and under her will, her nephew Henry Noden of the Strand, Middx., tallow-chandler, was admitted to the messuage called the Black Spread Eagle in the occupation of George Griffith on 20 May 1765.

During 1765 Thomas Haswell of Epsom, labourer, was accused of stealing a watch chain's seal from John Parker, servant to Mr Griffies (sic) of the Spread Eagle Inn, Epsom, while he slept, and selling it to John Blake of Croydon, watchmaker [Surrey History Centre ref. QS2/6/1765/Eph65]

Mr Griffith appears to have acquired invoice forms from the Norths which he adapted by cutting off the printed name and writing in his own alongside the engraved heading. A bill printed 'George Griffiths, At the Spread Eagle', without any engraving existed dated 16 October 1768, although he had ceased to be landlord at the inn before that time [Surrey Archaeological Collections Vol. 35, pp 71/72 & Plate IV].

On 5 November 1770 Henry Noden had obtained a licence to let the premises, late in the occupation of George Griffith, for 21 years.

Henry Saker, tenant

On 6 Jun. 1774 Henry Noden sold the Black Spread Eagle and the close of land, now in the occupation of Henry Saker, to John Winchester of Epsom, cornchandler.

Saker Logo
Henry Saker's ornate invoice with engraved heading of double-headed
eagle in classical eighteenth century frame with grapes and rococo styling.

John Winchester's death was recorded on 22 Jun. 1775. In his will he devised the properties to his son William Edward Winchester; if he should die without issue to his wife Ann Winchester, if she remarries or when she dies to his nephew John Winchester and his heirs. William Edward Winchester, then 2 years old, was admitted, his guardians being his mother Ann Winchester, Edward Winchester of Wimbledon, inn-holder, and William Cole of Epsom, yeoman.

During 1781, Henry Saker purchased Blakes Close (now the Headmaster's House in Ashtead Park) and retained that property until 1787.

James Macartney, tenant

Macartney had taken over from Saker before 26 July 1784.

Macartney Logo
Invoice with finely engraved double-headed eagle surmounted by grapes
printed for James Macartney, successor to Mr. Saker.

By 1786 James Macartney, of Epsom, in Surrey, inn-holder and dealer in wines had been declared bankrupt.

Edward Bracebridge, tenant

Featured in Edwards' Companion to the Road from London to Brighthelmston, surveyed 1789: -
'On the same side is the Spread Eagle-inn, late in the possession of James Macarteny, now of Mr. Edward Bracebridge, who removed from the King's-head-inn. Here is held a society of gentlemen called the beefstake club, on every Saturday three weeks, from the first Saturday in September to the last Saturday in April, this is likewise the assembly house'.
The Carshaltoniad: an historical ballad, pub. 1790, mentioned 'the Master of the Spread-Eagle Inn, at Epsom':-
"The gloomy night was dark as pitch, No sign of stars or moon, And none had they to guide their way, But Bracebridge's Garsoon*. A wight he was of stature small, Be-booted and be-spurr'd, So that almost a wooden horse This doughty lad had stirr'd …"
* Corruption of 'garcon' - boy/servant

On 23 May 1796 William Edward Winchester of Epsom, gent., mortgaged the Black Spread Eagle and the close of land, now a garden, now in the occupation of Edward Bracebridge, to William Winchester of the Strand, Middx. , stationer,…

Gazette 4 February 1797: A Commission of Bankruptcy was awarded and issued forth against Edward Bracebridge, of Epsom in the County of Surry, Innkeeper, Dealer and Chapman.

Thomas Maskell, tenant

At the death of William Edward Winchester, recorded on 20 October 1800, his sister Mary Winchester of Tavistock Street, Covent Garden, Middx. spinster, was, as the only surviving child of John Winchester, admitted on 23 December 1801 to the property, now in the occupation of Thomas Maskell, freed it from tail by an action of recovery, and mortgaged it … On 21 May 1804 William Clowes of Charing Cross, Westminster, printer, and Mary his wife, formerly Mary Winchester, surrendered the property to William Winchester, who, now of Cecil Street, Middx. Esq. on 10 October 1808 obtained a licence to let to Thomas Maskell of Epsom, innkeeper, for 21 years.

Epsom Town, Derby Morning.
The Spread Eagle as shown in
"Epsom Town - Derby Morning" by John Sturgess c.1877

John Hughes, tenant

The death of William Winchester was recorded on 11 April 1820, when the occupier of the properties was given as John Hughes, and on 20 October 1820 Henry Winchester of the Strand, Middx. stationer, and William Blew of Cockspur Street, Charing Cross, perfumer, were admitted upon trusts under the will of William Winchester dated 12 February 1820.

From 20 October 1823 Henry Winchester and William Blew surrendered the Black Spread Eagle and the adjoining close in the occupation of John Hughes to Heathfield Young of Dorking, brewer…

John Gaston, tenant

On 12 April 1833 Heathfield Young obtained a licence to demise the premises for 21 years to John Gaston of Epsom, innkeeper. He, however, died and was interred in St Martin's churchyard, 5 June 1833 - the Will of John Gaston, Inn-keeper of Epsom, was proved on 14 June 1833 (PROB 11/1817/206).

The Gaston inscription in St Martin's churchyard
To the Memory of MARY, the Wife of JOHN GASTON of this Parish
who departed this Life the 6th of April 1828 In the (4)7th Year of her Age.
Also of the said JOHN GASTON who departed this Life the 30th of May 18(33)
In the 53rd Year of his Age.

At the death of Heathfield Young, recorded on 11 May 1836, he left in his will dated 7 May 1836 his public houses in several parishes including Epsom upon trusts unto William Stevens of Timberden in the parish of Mickleham, Surrey Esq. together with the testator's wife and Samuel Dendy.

William Lumley, tenant

William Stevens was accordingly admitted on 19 Oct. 1836, the property was then in the occupation of William Lumley.

In the Derby of 1844, the apparent winner Running Rein, owned by Alexander Wood, an Epsom corn-chandler, was in reality a four-year-old named Maccabeus. Abraham Goodman Levy had bought two horses during 1841, Maccabeus, a yearling, and a colt foal named Running Rein which was entered in the Derby. Later, after the application of a hairdresser's black dye and the deliberate duplication of a scar on Running Rein, the two colts appeared identical. A year before the Derby, Goodman switched Running Rein for Maccabeus, who then three easily won a two year old race at Newmarket. Lumley was involved in the scandal as described in In Search of Running Rein by Tony Byles, 2011.

Further information about Lumley may be found in The Barnards of Epsom on this website.

The 1845 Kelly's Directory records William Lumley at the Spread Eagle hotel/posting house.

John Martin, tenant

  • 1852 Kelly's Directory, John Martin, hotel and wine merchant.

Cornelius Spurdens Hunt, tenant

  • 1855 Kelly's Directory, Page & Hunt, Spread Eagle commercial inn, & wine merchants.
  • 1859 Kelly's Directory, Cornelius Purden (sic) Hunt, Spread Eagle commercial inn, & wine merchant.
C J Swete remarked in A handbook of Epsom, 1860 :-
"The Spread Eagle is a Family and Commercial hotel with ample accommodation, occupying also a good central position opposite the Terminus of the South-Western Branch Station, and having a frontage up High Street towards the Clock Tower. The proprietors, Mr. & Mrs. Hunt, seem to spare no trouble or expense, to render this house worthy of the Town. A spacious assembly room nearly 60 feet long by 19 feet broad is adapted for county and assembly meetings, and within it, occasionally used as a supper room, is a large and airy Billiard room well lighted and ventilated. The private sitting rooms and the bed rooms are of a very superior order, and the charges extremely moderate for so well conducted an establishment. A table d'hote is spread every Wednesday for the convenience of the visitors to the weekly market, which we hear is liberally supplied at a very small charge. Families may be accommodated with every comfort, while they sojourn here either to view the charming scenery of the neighbourhood of Epsom, or to try the noted salubrityof its air".
Spread Eagle Advert 1860s.
Spread Eagle Advert 1860s.

  • 1861 & 1871 Census, Cornelius Spurdens Hunt
The death of William Stevens was recorded on 2 November 1871; on 7 November 1872 on the third proclamation for an heir, no claimant appeared, and the premises were seized for the lord of the manor. On 31 August 1874 Henry Drayson Pilcher of Can Hatch, Banstead, merchant, was admitted as trustee by an order of the High Court in Chancery of 13 April 1874 … On 10 May 1877 Henry Drayson Pilcher sold the premises, the Black Spread Eagle and the close of land now in the occupation of Cornelius Hunt, for £ 4120 to Charles Hoskins Master of Guildford, brewer, who was admitted on 23 Nov. 1877, and had the close or parcel of land now a garden and lying eastward of the messuage enfranchised on 13 Jun. 1878.

Campbell Ford, tenant.

In the 1881 Census Campbell Ford was enumerated as the Hotel Proprietor and his name appears in Kelly's Directory for 1882.

Harry Frank Margetts, tenant.

Kelly's Directory 1887 Henry Frank Margetts, formerly of the Greyhound, Croydon, and previously bankrupt. He was buried from St Martins in Epsom Cemetery on 17 March 1891, aged 65, retired publican.

William Tarrant Lambert, tenant.

1891 Wm. Tarrant Lambert in Kelly's Directory

Henry Coleman Keeble, tenant.

By 1893 the hotel was run by Henry Keeble, born 10 September 1834. He became a widower following the death of his wife, Mary Ann, at Epsom in 1894 aged 61. She was interred in the graveyard of St Mary & St Nicholas, Leatherhead.

Henry Keeble married secondly Lucy Brown - registered Islington for the September Quarter, 1902. He, however, survived only until 6 September 1904 before being buried with his first wife at Leatherhead.

His relict, Mrs Lucy Keeble, continued to run the Spread Eagle and further details are recorded under Epsom Businesses, 1911 on this website. She remained at the inn at least until 1930.

The messuage called the Spread Eagle, formerly the Black Spread Eagle, had been enfranchised on 10 November 1923 by Charles Hoskins Master, then of Shakespeare House, Sandgate, Kent.

By 1934 the Spread Eagle had been taken over by Catering Houses Ltd.

Trading as a public house continued until about 1990 when progressive deterioration of its interior is said to have led to a decision to surrender the licence. After standing disused and empty, the main building was renovated for occupation by Lester Bowden, clothing retailers, in 1994 - the two large black birds over the porticos are not original but appear to have been put up between 1846 and 1890, possibly in Cornelius Hunt's time. The site has also been developed to provide the Spread Eagle Walk Shopping Centre.

Brian Bouchard © April, 2017