Epsom is a market town in the borough of Epsom and Ewell in Surrey, England. Small parts of Epsom are in the Borough of Reigate and Banstead and Mole Valley District. The town is south south-west of Charing Cross, within the contiguous urban area of London mapped by the Office for National Statistics. The town straddles chalk downland (topped by the Epsom Downs part of the North Downs) and the upper Thanet Beds. The eponymous racecourse at its edge holds The Derby at the start of summer which has become the generic name for a major annual competition across many sports in English-speaking countries. The town also gives it name to Epsom Salts which were identified from mineral waters there.
Epsom has the source of the Hogsmill stream or river and includes two semi-rural localities: Horton and Langley Vale.
Epsom lies within the Copthorne hundred used for periodic, strategic meetings of the wealthy and powerful in Anglo Saxon England, and later having a Hundred Court. The name of Epsom is early recorded as forms of Ebba's ham ( or perhaps manor). Ebba was a Saxon landowner. Many Spring line settlements by springs in Anglo-Saxon England were founded at the foot of dry valleys such as here and Effingham, Bookham, Cheam, Sutton, Carshalton, Croydon and Bromley. A relic from this period is a 7th-century brooch found in Epsom and now in the British Museum.
Chertsey Abbey, whose ownership of the main manor of Ebbisham was confirmed by King Athelstan in 933, asserted during its Middle Ages existence that Frithwald and Bishop Erkenwald granted it 20 mansas of land in Epsom in 727. Epsom appears in Domesday Book of 1086 as Evesham, held by Chertsey Abbey. Its domesday assets were: 11 hides; 2 churches, 2 mills worth 10 shillings, 18 ploughs, of meadow, woodland worth 20 hogs; altogether it rendered £17 per year to its overlords. The town at the time of Domesday Book had 38 households (and 6 serfs noteworthy enough to be recorded as assets), some of them in a nucleated village near the parish church of which there were two. At various dates in the Middle Ages manors were founded by subinfeudation at Epsom Court, Horton, Woodcote, Brettgrave and Langley Vale.
Under Henry VIII and Queen Mary the manor passed to the Carew then related Darcy families. It passed via the Mynne, Buckle and Parkhurst families to Sir Charles Kemys Tynte and after his death to Sir Joseph Mawbey.
Within the centuries-old boundaries is Epsom Downs Racecourse which features two of the five English Classic horse races; The Derby and The Oaks, which were first run in 1780 and 1779 respectively. On 4 June 1913, Emily Davison, a militant women's suffrage activist, stepped in front of King George V's horse running in the Derby, sustaining fatal injuries.
The British Prime Minister and first chairman of the London County Council, Lord Rosebery, was sent down (expelled) from the University of Oxford in 1869 for buying a racehorse and entering it in the Derby − it finished last. Lord Rosebery remained closely associated with the town throughout his life, leaving land to the borough, commemorated in the names of Rosebery Park and Rosebery School. A house was also named after him at Epsom College, one of Britain's public schools in Epsom.
By the end of the Georgian period, Epsom was known as a spa town. Remnants of this are its water pump and multiple exhibits in the town's museum. There were entertainments at the Assembly Rooms (built c. 1690 and now a pub). A green-buffered housing estate has now been built upon the wells in the south-west of the town.
Epsom salts are named after the town. Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) was originally prepared by boiling down mineral waters which sprung at Epsom. What was in the Middle Ages the town pond has become the town's market.
The New Student's Reference Work of 1914 describes Epsom: