Ancestry UK

Epsom, Surrey

[Up to 1834] [After 1834] [Staff] [Inmates] [Records] [Bibliography] [Links]

Up to 1834

A parliamentary report of 1777 recorded parish workhouses in operation at Epsom (for up to 60 inmates), Carshalton (20), Cheam (14), Cobham (40), and Stoke Dawbernon [Stoke D'Abernon] (12).

Eden, in his 1797 survey of the poor in England, reported of Epsom that:

The Poor have been farmed for more than 20 years; this reduced the rates by one-half and has kept them at about 2s. 6d. in the pound. The contractor receives £550 a year. The average number in the house is 60, never more than 75 or less than 45, but always highest in winter. They are chiefly employed in spinning coarse woollen or linen yarn, but their earnings are small. Bill of fare: Breakfast—Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, broth; Tuesday, milk porridge; Thursday, Saturday, milk porridge or gruel. Dinner—every day, meat and bread. Supper—every day, bread and cheese or butter. Each person has a pint of small beer at dinner and supper. The provisions are plentiful, wholesome and good. In case of sickness the Poor are attended by a doctor. The children are taught reading and catechism by one of the elder paupers.

Carshalton's workhouse was in a building later known as Leicester House. From 1841 to 1854, the site was occupied by the Metropolitan Convalescent Asylum.

After 1834

Epsom Poor Law Union was formed on 31st May 1836. Its operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, 22 in number, representing its 15 constituent parishes as listed below (figures in brackets indicate numbers of Guardians if more than one):

Surrey: Ashstead, Banstead, Great Bookham, Little Bookham, Carshalton otherwise Casehorton (2), Cheam, Cobham (2), Chessington, Cuddington, Epsom (3), Ewell (2), Fetcham, Leatherhead (2), Stoke D'Abernon, Sutton (2).
Later addition: Headley (from 1879)

The population falling within the Union at the 1831 census had been 15,723 with parishes ranging in size from Cuddington (population 138) to Epsom itself (3,231). The average annual poor-rate expenditure for the period 1833-35 had been £10,510 or 13s.4d. per head of the population.

The new Epsom Board of Guardians had its first meeting on 2nd June 1836. On Jul 29th, advertisements placed for plans and estimates for a new workhouse to accommodate 250 inmates. The site for the new building was to the south-west of Epsom on the south side of the Dorking Road. Seventeen plans were submitted included ones from the partnership of Scott and Moffatt. The design chosen was by William Mason of Ipswich. It was described thus:

The elevation of the Building, which is plain, recommends itself to your Committee by presenting (especially in that part which is appropriated to the children and the aged) the appearance of an Almshouse, rather than of a Prison.

The building's layout was based on a double-cruciform plan like the ones at Kingston-upon-Thames, Windsor and Henstead.

There were a number of later additions to the original buildings. In 1882 a new board-room was erected, together with a pavilion-plan infirmary to the east. These were followed in 1888 by a three-storey block for aged men, receiving wards, a dining hall, and a 60-bed vagrants ward. A new nurses' home was built in 1910. The workhouse location and layout can be seen on the 1912 map below.

An 1883 view of the new board-room.

Epsom workhouse site, 1912.

The workhouse later became Epsom District Hospital and later Epsom General Hospital. Virtually all the original workhouse buildings have now been demolished.

Children's Home

By the 1920s, the Epsom Union had established a children's home at 38 Wilmerhatch Lane (now Woodcote Green Road). In 1924, it could accommodate 18 boys and 18 girls, with S.J. Ross as its Superintendent. The property no longer exists.




Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals. Before travelling a long distance, always check that the records you want to consult will be available.

  • Surrey History Centre, 130 Goldsworth Road, Woking, Surrey GU21 6ND. Holdings include Guardians' minutes (1836-1930); Admissions and discharges (1840-1932, with gaps); Births (1838-9, 1914-31); Deaths (1838-9, 1922-44); Creed registers (1881-1941); etc.



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