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The Cedars

1986/2 pp2–3


The Cedars, Epsom


Following Maurice Exwood’s article on ‘The Cedars’ School in the last Newsletter, we have received the following notes from Norman Nail on the subject, which he has derived from his research into the history of Epsom.


c.1840, Tithe Award. Owner: Milton Barrett. Occupier: William Everest. Description: House, outbuildings, garden etc. Area: 1 acre, 1 rood, 3 perches. Tithe: £1 payable to the vicar.


1841, Census returns. Occupier :William Everest, 35, solicitor, Harriett, his wife, 30, 5 children, 8 servants and 2 others.


1851, Census returns. Occupier: Rebecca Eisdell, 52, school mistres, Susanna Eisdell, her sister, 41, assistant, 5 visitors, 3 school assistants, 5 servants, and 21 female scholars aged 10–19.


1855, Kellys Directory of Surrey. Eisdell, Rebecca (Miss): Ladies school, The Cedars.


1861, Census returns. Occupier: Rebecca Eisdell, 62, school mistress. The entry reads: Governess General Literature. Sister and husband. 4 servants and gardener and family. 8 female scholars 14–18’.


1871, Census returns. Occupier: Rebecca Eisdell, 72, school mistress, 3 teachers, 4 servants, and 15 female scholars aged 9–18.


1895 & 1899, Andrews Directory of Epsom. Frederick William Coles at The Cedars.


1918, Title deeds. Property sold following the death of the owner, William Struan Robertson, solicitor, to Walter James Payne, solicitor.


1940 (23rd April). W.J. Payne died at The Cedars, and the house passed to Mrs. Ethel Maud Payne JP, widow. She offered the property to the Council for use during the war and it was eventually bought by the Borough in 1941.


During the war, The Cedars was used as a First Aid Post. In 1942 a Scabies Clinic started in the outpatients department of the First Aid Post. It continued to operate until 1961.


Since the war the building has been used by various bodies, including the Art School, SSAFA., WVS, Marriage Guidance Council, Citizens Advice Bureau and the National Savings Committee.


1972 (25th January). Properties Committee. The Borough Treasurer submitted a comprehensive review of the possible future uses of The Cedars arising from the vacation of the ground floor of the property by the Epsom School of Art later that year. Possible uses: (1) letting as offices for private business, (2) adult education day centre, (3) day centre for the elderly, (4) museum and art gallery. The recommended use was (3).


1972 (23rd September). Old Peoples’ Day Centre opened.


One of the difficulties the local historian has to live with is the large amount of legendary material that most places seem to possess about their past. This story of Mary Moffat, Livingstone and The Cedars is a good example. From the notes above the reader will see that the girls school at The Cedars was opened after 1841 but before 1851, and that the proprietors were Rebecca and Susanna Eisdell. How and when the legend of its connection with Mary Moffat arose, I do not know. There are two possible threads that might have been woven into it but they are rather remote from its final form. The first one is the fact that for a short time Mary Livingstone did run the infants school in Livingstone’s mission at Mabosta in what is now Botswana. The second is the fact that the early eighteenth-century entrepreneur Livingstone figures prominently in the history of Epsom Spa, and no doubt his name lingered on in local oral tradition into the Victorian times, especially as he built and endowed a group of alms houses in East Street. The Cedars story may have arisen as the result of some accidental or deliberate misinterpretation of the tradition about him.


Norman Nail


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