Thorne's Narrative

Handbook to the Environs of London
By James Thorne (1876)



EPSOM, SURREY (Ebba's Ham, the Home of Ebba; Dom. Ebesham), famous for its horse races and medicinal salts; a mkt. town seated in a depression of the great chalk Downs of Surrey, immediately S. of Ewell, 15 m. from London by road, and 18½ by the L. Br. and S. C. Rly. (Croydon branch, S.E. of the town), and L. and S.W. Rly. (Wimbledon br., near the centre of the town): pop. 6276. Hotels and Inns: King's Head; Albion; Spread Eagle; Railway: large and good. The King's Head was Pepys' inn, and occasionally that of more questionable company: "To the King' Head, and hear that my Lord Buckhurst and Nelly are lodged at the next house, and Sir Charles with them: and keep a merry house." (Diary, July 14, 1667.) The Spread Eagle is, at racing time, the head-quarters of the sporting fraternity, of whom a notable assemblage may be seen outside it on a Derby morning. The Albion is more of a family hotel.

At the Domesday Survey Ebesham belonged to Chertsey Abbey. It contained two churches and four mills; there were in it 34 villans, 4 bordarii, and 6 bondsmen; and the wood supplied pannage for 20 swine. The manor was surrendered to Henry VIII. in 1538, and granted the same year to Sir Nicholas Carew, of Beddington, on whose attainder and execution shortly after it reverted to the Crown. In 1589 it was granted by Elizabeth to Edward D'Arcy, her Groom of the Chamber, who quickly disposed of it to George Mynn, of Lincoln's Inn. Mynn's widow bequeathed it to her daughter Elizabeth, wife of Richard Eve1yn, younger brother of the author of the Diary. It then passed through several hands, till, in 1819, it devolved by marriage on J. hat Briscoe, Esq., in whose descendant it remains. The old manor-house, Epsom Court, is now a farm-house.

The town is a large, rambling, and, except in the Derby week, rather dull place. It has many good and not a few poor houses, spacious and well-filled shops, court-house, market-house, clock-house, water and gas works, banks, a Board of Health, and a weekly newspaper. The noticeable building of coloured bricks with red bands, in the midst of the High Street, serves a double purpose: the main building is for the fire-engine, the tall tower serves as a clock-house, and exhibits two illuminated dials at night. The market, chiefly for corn, long discontinued, was revived in 1833, and is held on Wednesdays. A pleasure fair is held on Clay Hill, July 25th. Brewing and malting are carried on in the town, and there are large brick-fields and nurseries in the vicinity, but the main dependence of the place is on the resident gentry, and the races and racing establishments.

The Church (St. Martin) at the upper end of Church Street, on the E. side of the town, was built in 1825, when the old ch. (of flint and stone) was taken down, with the exception of the tower. The present building, designed by Mr. Hatchard, is of brick, faced with black flints, with bands of brick, and Bath-stone dressings: by no means to be commended as a work of art, and not likely to tempt the sketcher by its beauty or picturesqueness; but a neat and convenient building inside. The old tower stands at the N.W. corner of the ch., to which its open arches serve as an entrance porch, and it contains a peal of 8 bells. The E. window, poor in colour and worse in design, is by Wailes of Newcastle. Monts. - In the chancel are 3 mural monts. with rilievi by Flaxman: on N. wall, to John Henry Warre, d.1801, a small whole-length female figure with votive urn; on S. wall, one to John Braithwaite, d. 1800, with figure in altorilievo; and another to John Parkhurst, author of the well-known Greek and Hebrew Lexicons, d. 1797, with small symbolical figures-Hope, Faith, etc. Another tablet, on S. of chancel, to Mrs. Susan Warre, has a female figure kneeling with an infant in her arms, by Chantrey. At the E. end of the nave is another tablet, with emblematic figures by Flaxman, to Eleanor Belfield, d. 1802. On the S. wall is the mont., preserved from the old ch., of Richard Evelyn, of Woodcote, d. 1669.

There is another ch. (Christ Church) at Clay Hill, a small red-brick building, erected in 1845, but it is of no better design than the mother ch. The Independent chapel in Church Street, known as the Old Chapel, is noted as one of the oldest Nonconformist chapels in the county. Isaac Watts, whilst a visitor to Sir J. Hartop, whose seat was close by, used often to preach here; and here for many years ministered the Rev. John Harris, author of the once enormously popular 'Mammon.'

The Almshouses, in East Street, founded in 1703 by John Livingstone for 12 poor widows, were rebuilt in 1871 in a better style, mid now form comfortable dwellings. The rather picturesque red-brick and stone building, a spacious structure in the Tudor Collegiate style, immediately N. of the town, is the Royal Medical Benevolent College, "established in order to provide an asylum and pensions for aged medical men, and the widows of medical men in reduced circumstances, and a school, partly gratuitous, for the sons of medical men." The college was opened in 1855. In June 1874, there were 24 medical men, or their widows, in the asylum, who each received annuities of £21, with furnished rooms and an annual allowance of 3½ tons of coal; and an equal number of outdoor annuitants who received £21 a year each. In the school there were 50 foundation scholars, "the necessitous orphans and sons of medical men," who "receive an education of the highest class, and are boarded, clothed, and maintained at the expense of the college;" besides 150 resident scholars. The buildings comprise the school, asylum, masters' houses, and a neat chapel, and stand in about 18 acres of ground.

Epsom Wells. - In the last half of the 17th and early part of the 18th centuries, Epsom was a place of great fashionable and even royal resort, on account of its medicinal waters, for a while rivalling Tunbridge Wells in the number and quality of the visitors. The character of the Epsom water was, it is said, discovered by accident in the latter part of the reign of Elizabeth, and began to be celebrated in the reign of James I. Fuller, however, who wrote when the wells were in the height of their fame, puts their actual discovery late in the reign of the latter monarch. The medicinal waters of Ebesham, he says,

" Were found on this occasion some two and forty years since (which falleth out to be 1618). One Henry Wicker, in a dry summer and great want of water for cattle, discovered, in the concave of a horse or neat's footing, some water standing. His suspicion that it was the stale of some beast was quickly confuted by the clearness thereof. With his pad-staff he did dig a square hole about it, and so departed. Returning the next day, with some difficulty he recovered the same place (as not sufficiently particularized to his memory in so wide a common); and found the hole he had made, tilled and running over with most clear water. Yet cattle (though tempted with thirst) would not drink thereof, as having a mineral taste therein." (Fuller, Worthies (Surrey), vol. ill., p. 203, ed. 1840.)
The water was "at first only used outwardly for the healing of sores. Indeed simple wounds have been soundly and suddenly cured therewith, which is imputed to the abstersiveness of this water, keeping a wound clean, till the balsam of nature doth recover it. Since it hath been inwardly taken, and (if the inhabitants may be believed) diseases have here met with their cure, though they came from contrary causes." But no doubt, as he shrewdly remarks, "Their convenient distance from London addeth to the reputation of these waters; and no wonder if citizens coming thither, from the worst of smokes into the best of airs, find in themselves a perfective alteration." (Ibid.) The well was enclosed in 1621, and a shed erected for the convenience of visitors. Dudley, 3rd Lord North, in his 'Forest of Varieties,' folio, 1645, loudly asserted the virtues of the springs of Tunbridge and Epsom, which he claims to have first made known "to the citizens of London and the king's people." But it was not till after the Restoration that Epsom Wells became fashionable. Charles II. with his Court frequently repaired hither to drink the waters, and brought their dissipated habits with them. Where King and Court went commoners soon followed - Pepys among the number :-
"July 26th, 1663 (Lord's day).-Up and to the Wells, where a great store of citizens, which was the greatest part of the company, though there were some others of better quality ..... Then rode through Epsom, the whole town over, seeing the various companies that were there walking; which was very pleasant to see how they are there, without knowing what to do, but only in the morning to drink waters. But, Lord! to see how many I met there of citizens, that I could not have thought to have seen there; that they had ever had :it in their heads Or purses to go down thither." (Diary, vo1. ii., p. 198)
He was there on another" Lord's day" (July 14th, 1667), being" up, and my wife, a little before four," to make ready, when his wife "vexed" him "that she was so long about it, keeping us till past 5 o'clock, 'before she was ready." However they got off, provided with" some bottles of wine, and beer, and some cold fowle," in a " coach and four horses," and so "talking all the way to Epsom, by 8 of the clock, to the Well; where much company, and I did drink the water: they did not, but I did drink 4 pints," a pretty liberal allowance. After spending the day in sightseeing, "By and by we took coach and to take the ayre .... I carried them to the Well, and there filled some bottles of water to carry home with me; and there I talked with the two women that farm the well, at £12 per annum, of the lord of the manor." (Diary, vol iv., p. 118.) The well continued to prosper. Shadwell wrote his comedy of 'Epsom Wells' (1673), which had a run at the Duke's Theatre; (And continued to be popular long afterwards (Tatler, No. 7, April, 1709); though it may have been revived on account of the renewed celebrity of the Wells at this time.) the London Gazette (June 19, 1684) announced that "the post will go every day to and fro betwixt London and Epsom, during the season for drinking the waters;" (Quoted in Brayley's Surrey, vol. iv., p. 354.) and the Lord of the Manor now (1690) laid out walks through the town, with branching avenues, planted avenues of trees, and built, besides other apartments, a ballroom 70 ft. long. A rival establishment was set up in the town itself, but for a while both continued to flourish. During the reign of Anne it was at the height of prosperity. George, Prince of Denmark, leaving the cares of state to the Queen, was a very regular visitor at the Epsom Spa. In 1711, John Toland, the sceptical author of 'Christianity not Mysterious,' then resident at Epsom, wrote an inflated rambling' Description of Epsom, with the Humours and Politics of the Place,' which might well have suggested Macaulay's striking description of Tunbridge Wells. (History of England (ch. iii.), ed. 1858, vol. i., p.359.) He pictures the town and company that fined it; the luxury, and dissipation; the country people bringing "to every house the choicest fruits, herbs, roots, and flowers, with all sorts of tame and wild fowl, with the rarest fish and venison, and with every kind of butcher's meat, among which Banstead Down mutton is the most relishing dainty; " the" court and city ladies, who, like queens in a tragedy, display all their finery on benches before their doors;" the behaviour of the damsels, admiring, envying, and cozening one another; the public breakfasts, music and dancing every morning at the Wells; midday races, and outdoor sports; card parties, gambling rooms, and the like. Toland says that he had often counted 70 coaches in the ring (the present racecourse on the Downs) of a Sunday evening. Among the sports most in favour, he mentions wrestling, running, trying to catch a pig by the tail, and the like; and the Tatler tells us that an announcement which drew together all the beaux and fair ladies in their coaches was" that on the 9th instant, several Damsels' swift of foot, will run a race for a Sute of Head Clothes at the Old Wells." (letters from Epsome, Tatler, June 30, 1709.)

Epsom grew from a little country village to a gay and brilliant town. New buildings of all descriptions were laid out, lodging-houses and hotels of the most luxurious description were opened, and one, the New Inn, was said to be the largest in England. The milliners' and jewellers' shops rivalled in their displays those of London, Bath, and Tunbridge Wells; and hackney coaches and sedan chairs were numbered and ranged as in the metropolis.

The quarrels of the rival well-houses, the excesses of the disorderly class who resorted to the wells for the purpose of preying on the unwary, and the changes of fashion, at length brought about a decline. Efforts were made to revive the interest. Pamphlets were published setting forth the virtues of the waters; new attractions were announced; but the fame once lost could not be recalled, and before the close of the century the wells were utterly neglected.

"The hall, galleries, and other public apartments, are now run to decay; and there remains only one house on the spot (the Old Well), which is inhabited by a countryman and his wife, who carry the waters in bottles to the adjacent places." (Ambulator, 1782, p. 83.)
In 1804, the mansion and what was left of the buildings at the Old Wells were pulled down, and a small dwelling-house erected on the site; and in 1810 we find it recorded that "the Well is now deserted and almost forgotten," while of Epsom itself it is said, "Except during the time of the races few places can be more dull or uninteresting. The assembly-room, now disused, is partly shut up or let out in small tenements; and several costly buildings are uninhabited." (Hunter's History of London and Environs, vol ii., p. 154.)
The well still remains, and may be tested. It will be found on Epsom Common, a short ½m. from the town, on the rt. of the road to Ashtead. The water is strongly impregnated with sulphate of magnesia, the Epsom salts of the druggist, with very small portions of the muriates of lime and magnesia, and has been pronounced to have a considerable affinity to the true Seidlitz. water. When first extracted from the Epsom water, the sulphate of magnesia, under the since familiar name of Epsom salts, was sold, it is said, at 5s. an ounce. As is known, it is now manufactured on a large scale and at a very low price, but none is made at Epsom.

Epsom Common, without the attraction of the wells, is worth visiting. It is a broad open heath of about 400 acres, covered thickly with furze, somewhat moist perhaps in wet seasons, but a very pleasant, breezy place, with roads in all directions.

Epsom Races are the present glory of Epsom. When racing commenced here is not known, but the tradition that when James I. resided at Nonsuch Palace horseraces were run for his entertainment on the Downs is not improbable. References to meetings for horse-racing on Banstead Downs (the name by which these downs were then and long after generally known, see BANSTEAD) occur earlier, but it is not till after the Restoration that they become frequent, and then the race meetings seem to have been only occasional. They commenced to be run annually about 1730. For a time there were spring and autumn meetings, but they have long been timed as at present. There is a Spring Meeting in April, but it lasts only 2 days, and is attended by few besides betting men. The May Meeting lasts 4 days, from Tuesday to Friday, before Whitsuntide (unless Easter occurs in March, when it takes place after the Whitsun week), Wednesday being the Derby, Friday the Oaks Day. The Derby was established by Edward, 12th Earl of Derby, in 1780; the Oaks by the same nobleman, in 1779, and named after his seat, "The Oaks" (see WOODMANSTERNE), as the Derby was named after himself.

The Derby Day is the prime festival of England. For it even Legislation is adjourned. It is computed that since the railway facilities have been completed by the extension of the line to the foot of the race-hill, not less than 200,000 persons have assembled on the Downs on the Derby Day. Whatever be the number, there can be no doubt that the spectators make the sight. The vast crowd, the major part men, in a state of wild excitement, the great shout, so startling to those who hear it for the first time, "They're off," - the strain as the horses rush down the slope at Tattenham Corner, and the cry of one and another name as either of the leaders seems to be clearing his opponent, and then the turbulent excitement at the winning-post,-make up a scene such as is unmatched in England, and probably elsewhere. The Derby is a 1½ m. race for 3-year-old colts and fillies, and is usually run in from 2 m. 43 s. (Kettledrum, 1861), or 2 m. 43½ s. (Blue Gown, 1868), to 2 m. 52½ s. (Pretender, 1869). The value of the stakes during the last few years has varied from £4850 (1872), to £7350 (1866).

The Oaks is, like the Derby, run over a mile and a half course, but is for 3-year old fillies only; and the winning time is on the average a few seconds longer. The stakes range from £4100 (1871) to £5225 (1865). The Oaks, traditionally the Ladies' Day, is on the Friday after the Derby. The crowd is less, but the appearance of the course much more brilliant.

The grand stand, the best and most substantial in the kingdom, affords magnificent views, marked on one side by Windsor Castle, on the other by St. Paul's Cathedral, but stretching far beyond both; and views hardly less extensive are obtainable from many parts of the Downs. The Downs, at other than racing times, afford delightful walks. Especially so are those across Walton Heath to Walton-on-the-Hill, to Hedley, Betchworth, or Reigate, or in the other direction by Langley Bottom to Leatherhead or Mickleham, or, again, the shorter strolls to Banstead and Sutton.

Some of the seats in Epsom and the vicinity are interesting. Pitt Place, near the ch., so called, as is said, from having been built by a disused chalk quarry (though it should be noted that Lady Chatham was Lyttelton's 1st cousin); is notorious as the scene of the death of Thomas, 2nd (" the bad") Lord Lyttleton (Nov. 27, 1779), with which the oft-told ghost story is connected. Woodcote Park (Robert Brooks, Esq.), whose magnificent woods are so noticeable on the right nearly the whole way from the town to the race-hill, was for some generations the seat of the Lord Baltimores. The present mansion was erected by Charles, 6th Lord Baltimore. (1715-51), but it has been much altered since. It is a very stately structure, consisting of a tall centre and wings connected by curved arcades, and stands in a noble park of 350 acres. The state rooms have ceilings painted by Verrio. Woodcote House, by Woodcote Green, is a good old-fashioned mansion built by Sir Edward Northey, Attorney General to William Ill., Queen Anne, and George I., now the residence of E. J. Northey, Esq, Durdans, in Chalk Lane, long the residence of Sir Gilbert Heathcote, occupies the site of a 'palace' built by George, 1st Earl of Berkeley, with the materials of Nonsuch Palace, which he had purchased of the profligate Duchess of Cleveland, to whom it had been given by Charles II. It was unpleasantly associated with the intrigue between Lord Grey of Warke and his wife's sister, the youngest daughter of the then Earl of Berkeley, which caused so much scandal. It was afterwards the residence of the Earl of Guildford, and then of Frederick Prince of Wales (father of George Ill.) when drinking the Epsom waters and pursuing his favourite pastime of hawking on the Downs. It was pulled down shortly after the prince quitted it, and the present more modest structure erected.



EWELL, SURREY (Dom. Etwelle, Ætwelle = At well, the vill. standing at the head of the Hogs-Mill, or Ewell River, which falls into the Thames at Kingston), pop. 2214, is situated about a mile N.E. of Epsom, and 14 m. from London: the Ewell Stat. of the Epsom line (L. Br. and S. C. Rly.) is ½ m. S. of the village, that of the L. and S.W. Rly. about the same distance N. Inn, The Spring, an excellent house.

At the Domesday Survey, Etwelle belonged to the king, and it continued in the possession of the Crown till Henry n., in 1156, gave all his lands in Ewell to the Prior and Canons of Merton. At the suppression of Merton Priory, in 1538, the manor reverted to the Crown, but was alienated by Letters Patent of Elizabeth, 1563, to Henry Fitz-Alan, Earl of Arundel, and has since been in private bands. As late as the 17th cent. Ewell had a weekly market, and a small market-house at the N. entrance to the village by the junction of the London and Kingston Roads; but the market has long been disused, and the market-house pulled down: It is near the site of the old market-house that the spring mentioned above rises, and from it the Spring Hotel takes its sign. Two annual fairs are still held at Ewell, one of which, on the 29th of October, for sheep and cattle, find known as Ewell Great Sheep Fair, is one of the most important autumn fairs in the county. Ewell is now perhaps mainly dependent on the wealthy inhabitants, but there are extensive coarse pottery and brick works, maltings, farms, and along the Hogs-Mill large flour-mills, and the gunpowder works of Messrs. Sharpe and Co., which spread over a wide plot of ground in detached buildings: these works were established here in 1720, find have on the whole been creditably free from accidents, but an explosion which occurred in September, 1865, did great mischief, and is said to have been felt through a circuit of 20 miles.

The Church (St. Mary), built in 1848, is a commonplace Early Dec. building, with a tall square embattled tower at the W. end, in which is a peal of 6 bells, brought from the old ch. tower. In the chancel are some brasses, brought from the old ch., of which the most interesting is one with a small kneeling effigy in a heraldic mantle of the Lady Jane, wife of Sir John Iwarby of Ewell, d.1515. Also from the old ch. a tomb with recumbent effigy, in flowing wig and the robes of Lord Mayor, of Ald. Sir William Lewen, d. 1721. There are also numerous tablets and one or two memorial windows to various members of the Glyn family. The ivy-covered tower of the old ch. has been retained for use as a chapel on occasion of burials in the old ch. yard.

Near the ch. is Ewell Castle (A. W. Gadesden, Esq.) - a modern antique, built in 1814. The adjoining grounds are those of Ewell Grove; further N. is Ewell House (H. J. Tritton. Esq.). Nonsuch House has a separate notice (see NONSUCH). Richard Corbet, the jovial poet-Bishop of Norwich, was born at Ewell, in 1582. He was the son of Vincent Corbet, a wealthy gardener at Ewell, whose many excellent qualities have been celebrated in a graceful poetical Elegy by his son, and in a long and high laudatory 'Epitaph on Master Vincent Corbet,' by Ben Jonson. ('Poems written by the Right Rev. Dr. Richard Corbet, late Bishop of Norwich,' 1672, p.31; Ben Jonson, Underwoods, 1640. p.177)



NONSUCH PALACE, SURREY, It residence of Henry VIII., and Elizabeth, stood a little W. of Cheam, but in the par. of Cuddington (Dom. Codintone): a parish, as they say in the neighbourhood, "without village or shop, church, chapel, school, or public," but which figures in the population returns for 375 inhab. This pop. is, however, chiefly due to the growth of Worcester Park, 1½m. N. W. of Nonsuch, a collection of villas and cottages about a Stat. on the Epsom br. of the L. and S.W. Rly.

Henry VIII. acquired the manor of Cuddington in 1539, in exchange for the rectory of Little Melton in Norfolk, and added it to his Honour of Hampton Court. Henry enclosed nearly 1600 acres of land to form two parks, pulled down the church and manor-house, which stood close together, (Losely, MSS., p. 144.) and built on the site so magnificent a palace that, as Leland tells in Latin verse, it was called Nonesuch, because it was without any equal. It was, however, so far from completed at Henry's death, that Mary thought it "meet rather to be pulled down and sold by piece-meal, than to be perfected at her charges; " but the Earl of Arundel, "for the love and honour he bare to his old master, desired to buy the same house by the grant of the Queen, for which he gave fair lands unto her Highness; and having the same, did not leave till he had fully finished it in building, reparations, pavements, and gardens, in as ample and perfect sort, as by the first intent and meaning of the said King, his old master, the same should have been performed; and so it is now evident to be beholden of all strangers and others for the honour of this realme, as a pearle thereof." (MS. Life of Henry Earl of Arundel, quoted by Lysons vo!. i., p. 112.) Lord Arundel entertained Elizabeth several times at Nonsuch. At her first visit, Aug. 3, 1559, he prepared for her great banquets, especially on Sunday night, together with a masque and all kinds of music till midnight. On the Monday she saw a course from her standing in the outer park; at night a play was acted by the boys of St. Paul's, under the direction of Sebastian their music-master; and after that was a costly banquet, with music and drums, the dishes extraordinarily rich gilt, the entertainment lasting till 3 o'clock in the morning. To crown all, the Earl presented the Queen with a cupboard of plate. Her stay lasted a week .(Strype, Annals, vcl. L, p. 274; NicholsJ Progresses of Queen Elizabeth, vol. i., p. 74; Lysons; Brayley.) From Lord Arundel, Nonsuch passed to Lord Lumley, who also entertained Elizabeth on several occasions, and who eventually sold the palace, and Little or Home Park, to her Majesty. In her latter years, Elizabeth spent a considerable part of each summer at Nonsuch," which of all other places she likes best." (Rowland White to Sir Robert Sydney, Sept. 8, 1599; Sydney Papers, vol. ii" p. 120.) It was here that the unfortunate Earl of Essex had that remarkable interview with Elizabeth after his return from Ireland, in Sept. 1599, of which Rowland Whyte gives so quaint an account in a letter to Sir Robert Sydney, dated "Nonsuch, Michaelmas Day at Noone " :-

"Upon Michaelmas Eve, about 10 a clock in the, morning, my Lord of Essex 'lighted at Court Gate in post, and made all hast up to the Presence, and so to the Privy Chamber, and stayed not till he came to the Queen's bed-chamber, where he found the Queen all newly up, the hair about her face; he kneeled unto her, kissed her hands, and had some private speech with her, which seemed to give him great contentment; for coming from her Majesty to go shift himself in his chamber, he was very pleasant and thanked God, though he had suffered much trouble and storms abroad, he found a sweet calm at home. 'Tis much wondered at here that he went so boldly to her Majesty's presence, she not being ready J and he so full of dirt and mire that his very face was full of it. About 11 he was ready, and went up again to the Queen, and conferred with her till half an hour after 12. As yet all was well, and her usage very gracious towards him." (Sydney Papers, vol. i1., p. 127.)
Later in the day the Queen's countenance darkened. At night, between 11 and 12, he was commanded "to keep his chamber; and on the following Monday he was committed to the custody of the Lord Keeper at York House."

James I settled the palace and parks on his queen, Anne of Denmark; as did Charles I. on Henrietta Maria. They were of course seized by the Parliament. A lease of the house was granted to Algernon Sydney, the grounds being sold. Later the Little Park passed to General Lambert, the Great Park to Colonel Pride; but at the Restoration the grants were resumed by the Crown, and the house restored to the Queen Dowager. In the plague year of 1665, it was fitted up for the offices of the Exchequer. Pepys was down here (Sept. 29, 1665) about his tallies, which, he says, " I found done, hut strung for sums not to my purpose. But, Lord! what ado I had to persuade the dull fellows to it." (Pepys, Diary, vol iii., p.99) In 1670 the palace and park were granted by Charles II in trust for his mistress, the profligate Duchess of Cleveland, who, as soon as she came into possession, pulled down the palace and sold the materials, and converted the park into farms. Her grandson the Duke of Grafton alienated Nonsuch in 1730. Twenty years later it was bought by Mr. S. Farmer, in whose family it has since remained. The writers (foreign as well as native) who describe Nonsuch as they saw it in the latter part of the 16th century, seem at a loss for words strong enough to express their sense of its magnificence. Camden calls it "a monument of art," and Paul Hentzner, the German traveller, writes,-
"Nonsuch, a royal retreat built by Henry VIII. with an excess of magnificence and elegance eyen to ostentation: one would imagine everything that architecture can perform to have been employed in this one work: there are everywhere so many statues that seem to breathe, so many miracles of consummate art, so many casts that rival even the perfection of Roman antiquity, that it may well claim and justify its name of Nonesuch, being without an equal, . , , . The palace itself is so encompassed with parks full of deer, delicious gardens, groves ornamented with trellis work, cabinets of verdure, and walks so embrowned by trees, that it seems to be a place pitched upon by Pleasure herself to dwell in along with Health." (Hentzner, A Journey into England in the Year 1598, Walpole's Translation)
A more prosaic account, the 'Survey made by order of the Parliamant' in 1650, affords, with Hofnagel's print, published in 1582, a more definite idea of what was one of the most curious examples of our palatial architecture. It consists of
" a fair, strong, and large structure, or building of free-stone, of two large storeys high, well wrought and battled stone.... standing round a court of 150 foot long, and 132 foot broad, paved with stone, commonly called the Outward Court : a Gate-House leading into Outward Court aforesaid, being a building very strong and. graceful, 3 storeys high, leaded over head, battled and turretted in every of the 4 corners thereof: also of another very fair and curious structure or building of two storeys, the lower storey whereof is very good and well wrought freestone, and the higher of wood; richly adorned and set forth and garnished with variety of statues, pictures, and other antick forms, of excellent art and workmanship and of no small cost: all which building,' lying almost upon a square, is covered with blue slate, and incloseth one fair and large court 137 ft. broad and 116 ft. long, all paved with freestone, commonly called the Inner Court. Mem., That the Inner Court standeth higher than the Outward Court by an ascent of 8 steps, leading therefrom through a gate-house of freestone, 3 storeys high leaded and turretted in the four corners .... of most excellent workmanship, and a very special ornament to Nonsuch House. On the E. and W. corners of the inner court building, are placed two large and well-built turrets of 5 storeys, each of them containing 5 rooms, the highest- of which rooms, together with the lanthorns of the same, are covered with lead and battled round with frames of wood covered with lead; these turrets command the prospect and view of both the parks of Nonsuch, and most of the country round about, and are the chief ornaments of Nonsuch House." (Archreologia, vol. v.)
The interior appears from the Survey to have been of correspondent magnificence, but it was the exterior which excited such general admiration, and especially the profusion of "statues, pictures and other antick forms," which, as we see from Hofnagel's print, covered the entire wall space of the principal front. These decorations are said to have been" done with plaster work, made of rye-dough, in imagery, very costly." (Gough. Topography, vol. ii., p. 275; Lysons, vol. i., p. 111. ) Evelyn visited it four years before it fell into the hands of the Duchess of Cleveland;-

"1665-6, Jan. 3. - I supp'd at Nonsuch House, whither the office of the Exchequer was transferr'd during the Plague, .... and took an exact view of ye plaster statues and bass rilievos inserted 'twixt the timbers and punchions of the outside walls of the Court, which must needs have been the work of some celebrated Italian. I much admired how they had lasted so well and entire since the time of Henry VIII., exposed as they are to the air; and pity it is they are not taken out and preserved in some dry place: a gallery would become them. There are some mezzo-rilievos as big as the life; the story is of the Heathen Gods, emblems, compartments. etc." (Evelyn, Diary.)
Pepys visited Nonsuch about the same time, and was equally delighted with the house, park, and "ruined garden." Evelyn, we have seen, is content to express his opinion that the external decoration "must needs have been the work of some celebrated Italian," without venturing to name the artist; but Pepys, with less technical knowledge, and some confusion in artistic chronology, says very decidedly, " All the house on the outside filled with figures of stories, and good painting of Ruben's or Holben's doing." (Diary, Sept. 21, 1665) Mr. J.G. Nichols conjectures, with some probability, that John Hethe, an Englishman in the service of Henry, was" one of those engaged at Nonsuch .... By his will dated 1st Aug., 1562, he bequeathed to his second son Laurence 'all my moldes and molded worke that I served the king withall.' " (Archaeol, vol. xxxix.)

The present house, Nonsuch Park, (Capt. W. R. G. Farmer) was built, 1802-6, from the designs of Sir Jeffry Wyattville, and is a castellated structure of the order of domestic Gothic rendered familiar by that architect; it has, however, been somewhat altered as well as enlarged during the last few years. It stands in a park of moderate size, reclaimed from the plough since the building of the house. There is a public way through it from Cheam to Ewell, along an old avenue (entering by the projecting lodge on the Epsom road ¼m. beyond Cheam village - familiar to all who have driven to the Derby). The palace stood al; some distance from the present house, but within the park, at the angle formed by the avenue where a footpath branches oft' towards Ewell; the ground-plan is said to be still traceable. An elm known as Queen Elizabeth's, stands by the lodge on the Ewell road, and there are some other trees of unusual size in the grounds.


Clock Tower
Clock Tower
Epsom College
College
The Derby
Derby
Domesday
Domesday
Samuel Pepys
Pepys
Railways
Railways