A Unique History

In the 1840s, doctors were in the front line of change. The population of the United Kingdom had almost doubled between 1801 and 1841, but towns had grown so fast that demand for medicine often outstripped supply. There was a genuine need to provide preliminary education for youth destined for the medical or other professions - often an impossibility at ordinary schools without incurring an amount of expense beyond the means of many parents.

Founded in 1855 with Royal patronage granted by Her Majesty Queen Victoria, the founder of Epsom College, Dr John Propert, raised funds to build a foundation to help orphans and widows of members of the medical profession. The Royal Medical Benevolent College opened its doors in that year, at first providing for fewer than 100 boys.

The ceremony of opening took place on Monday 25th June at 3.30pm with an audience of several thousand. His Royal Highness Prince Albert presided over the duties of the day.

The huge extension of the school in 1862 quickly allowed numbers to rise so that, by 1864, there were 190 resident pupils and ten day scholars. 1882 to 1914 saw a significant period of reconstruction, development and change, both in the buildings and the curriculum on offer.

The First World War provided a caesura in the life of Epsom College, as in the life of Britain as a whole. The disruption of the 'Edwardian Age' was made more complete by the arrival of a new headmaster, for the first time in 25 years, which would have caused change even without the war.

The period 1923-1939 saw prosperity amid adversity. Further developments and new buildings were opened.

The early days of the Second World War were an epic struggle for Henry Franklin, the new Headmaster, just as they were for the country as a whole. Mr. Franklin, a classicist and cricket and rugby blue, came from Rugby School, straight into the worst situation possible. Rationing was already so severe that masters were anxious to dig up the grounds to plant vegetables and uniforms of acceptable standards had suddenly become unavailable. As the year wore on food supply became so erratic that the Bursar could not plan meals on the assumption that food would arrive or be cooked.

The period 1962 to 2000 saw significant management of change. Buildings were upgraded, Houses were changed and extended. Girls were admitted to the College and the public areas were sensitively redesigned.

In recent years, the College has continued to develop as a fully co-educational school with state of the art facilities and a broad and challenging curriculum. Recent years have seen the largest ever number of students at the College and September 2014 saw the opening of our new sister school in Malaysia.

To order the most recent History of Epsom College: Benevolence and Excellence, written by historian Alan Scadding, please call the College Store on: 01372 821122.

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