Ewell is a suburban area in the borough of Epsom and Ewell in Surrey with a largely commercial village centre. Apart from this it has named neighbourhoods: West Ewell, Ewell Court, East Ewell, Ewell Grove, and Ewell Downs. One rural locality on the slopes of the North Downs is also a neighbourhood, North Looe. Remaining a large parish, Ewell occupies approximately the north-eastern half of the borough minus Stoneleigh. It borders a south-west boundary of London atCheam and is within the capital city's commuter belt andcontiguous suburbs, 12 miles (19 km) from its centre. Ewell has the main spring, with an adjoining pond, at the head of theHogsmill river, a small tributary of the River Thames.
The name Ewell derives from Old English æwell, which meansriver source or spring.
Bronze Age remains have been found in Ewell and theRomans are likely to have encountered an existing religious site when they first arrived leaving pottery, bones, and a few other remains, which have been taken to the British Museum. Ewell is on a long line of spring line settlements founded along the foot of hills on a geological line between the chalk of the North Downs to the south, and the clay of the London Basin to the north.
The Roman road Stane Street from Chichester deviates from straight slightly at Ewell to pass by the central spring. Its successor, the A24 (London Road) runs from Merton to Ewell along the course of the Roman road, and leaves Ewell also with a by-pass connecting it to Epsom.
Ewell appears in Domesday Book of 1086 as Etwelle. It was held by William the Conqueror. Its assets were: 13½ hides; 2 millsworth 10s, 16 ploughs, 14 acres (57,000 m2) of meadow,woodland and herbage worth 111 hogs. It rendered £25 per year to its feudal system overlords; also £1 from the church in Leatherhead, it was held by Osbert de Ow and was attached to his manor. In the 13th century Ewell 's current spelling appears, in the Testa de Nevill.
King Henry VIII established here in 1538 Nonsuch Palace on the borders of Cheam, considered one of his greatest building projects. The estate, which remains a public park, was one of his favourite hunting grounds, although no trace of the palace remains, having been destroyed during the 17th century and replaced with a grade II* listed 18th century house occasionally open to visitors.
In 1618 Henry Lloyd, lord of the manor, was granted licence to hold a market in Ewell. Tunnels dating from theEnglish Civil War exist underneath Ewell but are poorly documented and inaccessible to the public. One such secret passage is reported to emerge under the shop on the corner of West Street and High Street.The market died away in the early 19th century.
Samuel Pepys visited Ewell on numerous occasions in the 17th century and the area is mentioned several times between 1663 and 1665 in his diary, at which time it was known as Yowell.
The enclosure (privatisation) of its common fields of 707 acres (286 ha) in the east and its infertile land ('waste') of 495 acres (200 ha) was carried out in 1801. In 1811 a National School was established sponsored by Mr. White and Mr. Brumfield. Thomas Calverley built the large architecturally listed home Ewell Castle in 1814 in an imitation castellated style and gave the school financial benefaction, which became available in 1860.In 1879 Ewell Court House, latterly a library was built with a grotto that survives.
In the 1980s, an elderly lifelong resident of Ewell, named Digeance, recalled the pasture land and orchards that stretched north and west right across to Berrylands in the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames. This radical transformation is documented in the photography collected in the book Archive Photos - Epsom and Ewell. The suburban residential development across that area is mainly 1930s/40s semi-detached houses, although some Edwardian, Victorian and earlier architecture is still present. The Hogsmill Open Space gives an indication of Ewell's rural pre-war history.
Ewell's largest landmark is the architecturally impressive Bourne Hall in the centre of the town but not currently listed. Retaining a listed garden wall and waterwheel of Garbrand Hall, the large mansion it replaced, Bourne Hall is now a modernistcircular structure with a central glass dome, and is surrounded by a diverse stream-side public park. There is a pond at one end with ducks and swans and a fountain. The building, which is reminiscent of an immense flying saucer, hosts a public library, subterranean theatre, gymnasium, café, and local museum. It regularly holds gatherings such as fayres, yoga and karate lessons.
Ewell has a C of E Parish Church (Saint Mary the Virgin, Ewell), which was designed by Henry Clutton and consecrated in 1848. The current building stands in a prominent position near the centre of the village on the old London Road. A replacement for an earlier church building on the site, it was built in a form of the Decorated Neo-Gothic style and faced with Swanage stone with Bath Stone mullions and tracery. The church is home to the 1889 'Father' Henry Willis pipe organ.
The ruins of the old church's tower that was early medieval form a Scheduled Ancient Monument and stand alone in parkland.
Unlike most parts of its borough, Ewell has telephone numbers using the London 020 area code[n 2]. Ewell also has an unusually large telephone exchange, beside The Spring pub, fitted with underground facilities designed to survive a nuclear conflict during the late years of the Cold War.
It was transferred in 2000 from the Metropolitan Police, in whose district it had been placed since 1839, to the jurisdiction of Surrey Police.
Ewell is also home to Ewell St. Mary's Morris Men. Founded in 1979, further to a bequest from the then Vicar, Peter Hogben, for the annual Village Fete - the Team danced into The Morris Ring in the late eighties and now have many unique dances in their repertoire. They dance Cotswold Morris and sport black top hats, red and white baldricks and ribbons.
The local sports club (Ebbisham Sports Club) cater for badminton, squash and tennis, in addition to having a social club.
In Ewell Court, there is a King George's Field in memorial to King George V. Also at the King George's Field, there is Ewell Athletics Track, a UK Athletics Class B track where Epsom and Ewell Harriers have trained since the 1950s. Epsom and Ewell Harriers were founded in 1890. In 2000, The Harrier Centre was built. It is a small sports centre was built as an addition to the athletics track and also contains a children's soft play area.
Ewell Tennis Club is located in the town, catering for tennis players of all standards.
West Ewell Social Club is located on Chessington road between Ewell West station and Hook Road.
Ewell lies on the London Outer Orbital Path (London Loop) walking route. The path heads through South Cheam into Warren Farm and Nonsuch Park via East Ewell, before crossing into Ewell Village by travelling past Ewell Castle School. It passes through Bourne Hall, where the main source of the Hogsmill River is located. The path then travels along the Hogsmill Open Space via Ewell Court Park and West Ewell past the Kingston borough border.
Pre-Raphaelite artist William Holman Hunt married and produced several artistically and conceptually outstanding works here. The doorway linking St Mary's church yard and the grounds of Glyn House reproduced as the door on which Christ is knocking is arguably his most praised painting, The Light of the World.
Similarly, the background for John Everett Millais' oil on canvas Ophelia was painted at Ewell.
In August 2005 the borough of Epsom and Ewell was rated the most desirable place to live in the United Kingdom by the British television programme The Best and Worst Place to Live in the UK; the following year's edition figured it in 8th place. The borough's low crime rate, good education results and large number of open spaces were all cited as its particularly attractive features, although being less commercial than the centres of Kingstonor London, having a relative 'lack of entertainment facilities'.
Pop singer Petula Clark was born in Ewell, as well as the broadcaster James Whale, and TV presenter Michaela Strachan. Everwhile guitarist and songwriter Jeff Gay lives in West Ewell, as does Gilly Ralph and Rich Davieson, the band's keyboards and bass player respectively. In sport footballer Ron Harris[n 3] lived in Ewell during the 1970s, cyclist Sean Yates in childhood, and Trevor "Tosh" Chamberlain is a resident.