The Spread Eagle, Epsom, Surrey
To hear people talk of Epsom is to believe that every resident
of this pleasant Surrey town is either a former Derby winner or
a potential winner of that classic race. But we who have been in
more than one pleasant Epsom house can declare, with our hands
on our hearts, that this is a somewhat exaggerated view.
No doubt there are publicans here as well as pharisees; there
may even be the odd poet, the publisher, and the politician; and
there is the pint.
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But having said that and having stretched our deﬁnition of
Greater London (without the least authority) to include Uxbridge,
we go still farther aﬁeld and take a look at Epsom.
There is much, quite apart from its famous races and horses,
to remember about Epsom.
It was here that Lord Rosebery spent his life not knowing
which to prefer–letters, politics or racing, and doing all three things
with the hand of a master. It was at his home, The Durdans, that
this enlightened Scot told a certain young Englishman: “Surely you
must write Duke John he was a tremendous fellow”.
Eventually, in the mid-’thirties the book, in‘ prose of imperishable
splendour,was published. The book was Marlborough: His Life and Times. And
having written a masterpiece (it was no less), this Englishman
turned to slightly stemer matters. His name was Winston Churchill.
But this is a far cry from The Spread Eagle and the dachshund
Mitze. This graceful canine is now nine, and is highly regarded
by all who are in the habit of calling at this house.
Mitze – The Daschund
She tried to indicate, when I approached her about her portrait,
that her beauty was on the wane. Would I therefore draw her
as in her debutante days? I was, as you may be able to note, but
wax in her hands. She has a considerable idea of her own importance,
and I have no quarrel with that point of view in a comely canine.
The Spread Eagle stands just off Epsom High Street.
You can tell by the six steep stone steps that this must have been an old
coaching inn, and of course it was. Indeed, these steps have been
in use since the sixteen hundreds.
Over the brick ﬁreplace in the lounge you will see a’ brick which
is inscribed “P.W. 1609”. This will indicate something of its
There is, too, a ﬁne old oil painting depicting the house in its
original structure, with the stage coach making its calls. The stables,
1 alas, are now used as garages, but we are fortiﬁed by the rumour
, that there is still the odd stable in and around Epsom. . . .
To the right of the painting is a bill which is of some interest.
No comment is required.
Dated 1786, it says:
“‘ Bread . . . . . . . 6d.
Wine . . . 4s. gd.
‘ Fowl Roast . . 3s. 6d.
Loin Mutton . 3s. od.
Pork Roast . . 2s. od.
Potatoes . . IS. od.
* Scotch Collops . . 2s. od.
1 Asparagus . . . . 2s. od.
J Raspberry Brandy . . . IS. od.
if, Cheese, Butter, Radishes . . . IS. od.
This was for a party of four; there were also two servants, whose
3 total bill for food, including punch, came to 5s. 6d. “