Presentation on theme: "Ever since horse racing began on Epsom Downs, there has been some kind of a shelter near the end of the course where horses could be rubbed down by their."— Presentation transcript:
Ever since horse racing began on Epsom Downs, there has been some kind of a shelter near the end of the course where horses could be rubbed down by their grooms after the exertions of the race. A small brick building, on the site of the present Rubbing House pub was used for this purpose even before the founding of the Derby
Later on, the horses were taken to the Paddock (which was then called Rubbing House Field ) and the building was used by the tradesmen who used to come down to sell drink at race meetings. By 1801 it had become a public house. Like the rest of the Downs, it belonged to the Lord of the Manor, and it was leased to the Pagden brothers. They owned several other pubs in the town, and their brewery was in Church Street, just outside St. Martin's Church.
In 1857 a fire broke out, and the old Rubbing House pub was destroyed. John Briscoe, the Lord of the Manor, made an agreement with the Pagdens to share the cost of the rebuilding in return for allowing him a cheap lease. They came up with some ambitious designs for the Downs Hotel, as it was then called, but when these came to the attention of the Epsom Grandstand Association there was trouble. A major hotel facing the end of the course would have offered serious competition to the Grandstand itself. By 1866 the pub had been rebuilt on a modest scale.
Its perhaps the only pub in the world to sit in the middle of a racecourse. The elegant cast iron balcony was intended for patrons to view the course, and the building was geared for race day traffic. Years later, when modern communications were opening up the Derby to millions, the landlord had links installed to the telegraph and telephone. As soon as the race ended, journalists would stampede into the pub to file their copy.
The old Downs Hotel was refurbished in 1968, and the opportunity was taken to return to the original name of the Rubbing House. The Cicero horse trough, commissioned by Lord Rosebery in memory of his Derby winner of 1906, now sits on the forecourt outside it. The pub is a muched loved landmark of Epsom Downs, a unique piece of Victorian architecture which has been part of people's race day memories for over a hundred years Jeremy Harte Curator Bourne Hall Museum