Epsom & Ewell History
& Archaeology Society
Saxon and Medieval Ewell
The name Ewell seems to derive from the Saxon, Old English æwell, reference to the springs or river source – that of the Hogsmill, still a dominant feature of Ewell in the grounds of Bourne Hall. The first mention of Ewell appears in the foundation charter of Chertsey Abbey in 675 although there is uncertainty over the validity of the document. Also significant is the small cemetery, of at least 12 burials of 6th or 7thC date, in the area of the Grove. Despite these clear indications there is little further archaeological evidence for post Roman Saxon occupation apart from just a handful of possible later Saxon pottery sherds from other sites in the village associated with Roman occupation. The identification of Saxon occupation in Ewell remains something to be established.
At the time of Domesday, Ewell was a Royal Manor and its value before 1066 was £20, a significant amount for Surrey. The principle documentary evidence for medieval Ewell lies in two documents. The Register or Memorial of Ewell drawn up in 1408 for the Lord of the Manor, by then the Prior of Merton Priory, to record the property and rents owned by Merton. The other is the Fitznells Cartulary, a large collection of copies of medieval deeds relating to the private ownership of various properties, built up over time, in what became the sub-manor of Fitznells. Neither document included a map but interpretations (by Philip Shearman past president of EEHAS) have been made to suggest a possible layout of the village and its surroundings in c 1400. Limited archaeological evidence for the medieval period was found in excavations on the site of Bourne Hall Stables (now the library car park) in the 1960s.
Left - a bronze "hanging bowl" with enamelled escutcheons from the 7th century Saxon barrow at Gally Hills, Banstead.
For the immediate post medieval period another survey of Ewell was made in 1577 by Thomas Taylor. This document is slightly easier to follow and has allowed a conjectural map to be made (again by Philip Shearman) of the village at that time. Although many older buildings have disappeared from the core of the village, there still remain a number of timber framed structures dating from the later 16thC. The preservation and proper recording of these, remain a priority.
Fuller details are given in the EEHAS publication EWELL a Surrey Village that became a Town by Charles Abdy.
Above - a Saxon Shield boss of "sugar loaf" type of late 7th century date, from Gally Hills, Banstead
Above - Medieval gold ring offered to Bourne Hall Museum under Treasure Act in 2005
Right - A silver terminal of the twelfth century, having a tapering circular shaft intended to hold a rod or strap, and a polyhedral head, of which each facet is engraved with a diamond design; it was found by a Mr. Boyd while detecting at Howell Hill.
Right - Coin from Hatch Furlong, Ewell