Report - - Downs House & racing stables, Epsom Downs, Surrey - 7 July 2013 | Residential Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Downs House & racing stables, Epsom Downs, Surrey - 7 July 2013


Death Valley is Mine
28DL Full Member
There might not be any asylums left, but don't forget about Epsom just yet.

Welcome to "Downs House"... I never knew this place existed until a mountain bike ride over Epsom Downs the other day.


Hidden in the trees, metres from Epsom Downs race course and only a few hundreds yards from the starting line of the greatest flat race in the world, sits an incredibly located property which - so the selling agent says - offers the opportunity to bring a historic training establishment back to its former glory after years of neglect. Apparently this place has entertained the rich and famous of the racing world over the years.



And just look what a view it enjoys:



The property extends to more than 10 acres and includes a five bedroom house and a training yard comprising 43 boxes, all located within gardens, paddocks and woodland. Downs House is believed to date back to the 1780s and was once the training yard of the unbeatable Eclipse, a thoroughbred from which 80 per cent of today’s bloodstock is believed to be descended. Eclipse was an outstanding 18th-century race horse who won 18 races, including 11 King’s Plates. The horse is still remembered in the phrase “Eclipse first and the rest nowhere”, referring to any dominating victory.

The house is locally listed and apparently includes three reception rooms, a laundry room, kitchen, cloakroom and conservatory on the ground floor and five bedrooms, bathroom and WC on the first floor. Part of the first floor has been adapted into a self-contained flat believed to have been used for staff accommodation. There is also a small cellar and I read that throughout the house there are original features including an impressive cast iron range installed by William Addis, the Game Larder and a number of original window shutters. When I visited, soon after sunrise, there was an active flashing burglar alarm on the front, and warning signs all around saying the house was alarmed. It was very well secured - doors padlocked and windows boarded tightly shut - it doesn't appear as though anyone has found a way inside.

Newly put-up signs around the perimeter warning of guard dogs seem to be the usual 'deterrent' only. Didn't meat a single four-legged friend!




I wouldn't normally post something where you can't get inside, but aside from the house, there's still plenty to see, particularly given the amazing location and history of place.

The yard is of more recent date than the house with buildings in various styles constructed during the last 40 years. The main part of the yard is in a courtyard style formation of 27 boxes with a steel framed barn housing 14 internal boxes, which was padlocked securely.










Also out back is a panelled training area:



But you'd best use the toilet before you leave home; the on-site facilities aren't that great:


And at the front of the house appears to be the grave of Attivo, owned by Peter O'Sullevan, whose victory in the 1974 Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival was described by O'Sullevan as the most difficult race to call. After passing the line, O'Sullevan uttered: "And it's first Attivo, owned by, uh, Peter O'Sullevan... trained by Cyril Mitchell and ridden by Robert Hughes."


No public road goes to Downs House, which is perhaps why I never knew it existed. Instead, the access to the property is enjoyed across the Downs itself - and directly across the actual Derby racecourse.


You could literally stand in the front garden of this place and get one of the best views of the race there is, and be as close to the action as if you were standing at the rails.


For those into racing, the first recorded race meeting to be held on the Downs was in 1661 and the tradition continued until 1779, when The Oaks were established. The following year saw the inaugural running of The Derby. The first Derby winner was Diomed, owned by Sir Charles Bunbury - some consolation for losing the toss of a coin to the Earl of Derby for the naming of the race.

It's currently up for sale for £1.1 million, although for some reason the Bidwell website doesn't currently list it - to see it, you need to load up the chached page through Google.
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