Heritage Open Days - Rye Meadows Open from 10am to 4pm, 9th to 18th September

Local History

The Grand Imperial Ship Canal

Did you know there were plans drawn up to create a canal from London to Portsmouth that went through Epsom, Ashtead and Leatherhead? No I didn't either. The route would have taken the waterway across the fields what are now part of Ashtead Rye Meadows.

Ashtead Woods Road

North of the Rye are seven substantial properties, each with some history. The first property reached up Ashtead Woods Road is Wood Cottage, but perhaps here one needs to understand the history of the area.

The area bounded to the south by the railway line and on other sides by the Common, Ashtead Woods and the border with Leatherhead, formed part of New Purchase Farm.  The farm failed to reach its reserve price when offered for sale as a lot in the break-up of the Ashtead Estate. However, the farmhouse with other buildings and over 263 acres was purchased privately by William Gilford of Redhill on 30 September 1879. By 13 February l880, he had sold on the northern part of some 135 acres, described as "Caen Farm", to Francis Larkin Soames, a Solicitor in Lincoln's Inn Fields and "a man of property." After the leasehold farmer, John Agate, died in 1880, this land was quickly parcelled up into some very large plots for houses to be built within their own grounds. 

The Rye Brook

In Leatherhead & District Local History Society's "Ashtead - a village transformed"* it states that the brook rises behind Park Farm House near the Epsom boundary. In the same Society's "A History of Ashtead"* it states the possible source of the Rye Brook is in the grounds of The Pines, once part of the grounds of Ashtead House. Present day examination of the area does show the Rye rises behind Little Park Farm House in land belonging to the Pines. The spring is a possible site of worship for Celtic water deity along with Epsom's 'Earthbourne' and Ewell ponds.


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