Epsom 'Spa Period': new evidence
In view of the notes on Epsom Spa mentioned above, it is perhaps appropriate to mention Norman Mail’s letter to the Borough Development Officer (2 July 1974) concerning the White Horse Public House, 63 Dorking Road, Epsom. ‘The present structure has a Victorian front but the building behind is older probably 18th century… in a group of 17th and early 18th century buildings most of which still survive… it was at this point that an approach track to the wells diverged from the Ashtead/Epsom road. The focal point of this settlement was the New Inn which later became in the 18th century the White Horse… ever since the days of Pownall in 1825 the legend has gone the rounds that Waterloo House (then the Assembly Rooms to Woodcote Hall) was originally called the New Inn. This is quite untrue and arises from the assumption that New Inn Lane was so called because it began at the New Inn, i.e. Waterloo House, quite apart from the 1755 evidence that it did not begin till Woodcote House, it is usual for roads from a centre such as the Spa to be called after their destination not their point of departure’.
‘Unfortunately Clark in his Surrey Archaeological Collections article which is a very fine piece of research in other respects adopts it and consequently misdates Waterloo House by some 26 years (1716 instead of 1690). In fact the building in 1716 to which he refers must relate to a building in the White Horse area not necessarily the inn itself but the Hylands or Tamarisk Cottage’.
‘There is no good evidence that Waterloo House was in Spa days ever an inn or referred to as one. Even as late at 1829 we find it referred to as the old assembly rooms and at least 3 early 18th century accounts of the Spa refer to it as containing two long rooms, a coffee house and a tavern but do not refer to it as containing lodgings of any kind; in fact these descriptions preclude the possibility that it did. There can be no doubt that the New Inn of 17th and 18th century references is in fact what is now the White Horse. Without some probing in its interior, especially some inspection of the roof structure and the nature of the rear and side walls, it is not possible to say how far the present White Horse building is the original spa period building referred to in 1672 but it is certain that the present building is at least early 18th century with a very obvious addition of a Victorian front. There should in my Society’s view be no further erosion of the buildings in this group and the White Horse, its southern boundary wall and the Orchard Walls on the other side of the Dorking Road, south of Tamarisk Cottage should be listed as soon as possible to prevent further demolitions’.