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Epsom, Surrey - Home of the Derby


 

About Epsom


The history of Epsom can be traced back to the 10th century and beyond to early Saxon settlements. Mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086 under its earlier name of Evesham, the town of Epsom grew from a handful of small dwellings clustered around a pond where the famous Clock Tower now stands in the High Street overlooking the Market which takes place twice a week with a Farmers Market held one Sunday every month.
Since 1937 the town has been united with Ewell as part of the Borough of Epsom and Ewell. The Borough's population numbers less than 70,000 but the bustling little town of Epsom has a special character of its own and attracts many visitors.
Epsom is probably most famous for being "the Home of the Derby". Horse racing on Epsom Downs started in 1661, continuing every summer thereafter. In 1779 the 12th Earl of Derby organised a number of races for himself and some friends. Two of these races became known as The Derby and The Oaks and started a world famous tradition in horseracing which is still going strong today.
The Derby is now run on a Saturday but until recently took place on the first Wednesday in June. In earlier years, people from London, rich and poor, were given a day off work to attend and would flock to Epsom in open-top buses to picnic on the Downs, watch the racing from the hillsides around the course, and visit the annual Fun Fair.
At the end of the day, win or lose, bus loads of jolly and somewhat innebriated punters would travel back up the A24 to London. Every so often, crowds of young urchins would line the kerbside to watch the procession and shout "Throw us yer old mouldies!", to which some of the more fortunate travellers might toss out a few coppers (old pennies) from their day's winnings. Happy days!
A lesser know fact about Epsom is that it was once a Spa Town.

 

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Epsom Wikipedia Entry

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