Horton Chapel has recently been reopened as a social centre, small museum and café. It is signposted, “The Horton”, off Horton Lane. It was the venue for a recent and enjoyable lunch time visit of 7 of the 8 current Old House residents and 4 volunteers and Mary the relief House Manager.

Background to the site.
From 1801 to 1901 London’s population swelled from 2.3 to 6.5 million. This increased the number of people who had a mental or physical disability and who required looking after. London Boroughs began to look outside the City in order to build institutions to house these people, hence new buildings sprang up in Epsom and elsewhere. Off Horton Lane, Epsom the Horton Place, the former manor house, was sold to the London County Council. This house and its extensive gardens were converted to create Manor Hospital, an asylum for some 700 people, and was opened in 1899. Other buildings were built on adjacent farmland and by 1902 2000 people were housed in what had become Horton Hospital. By 1905 a light railway had been built from East Ewell first to bring in construction materials to the growing Hospital Cluster and later it supplied coal to a steam generating site to provide heating. St Ebba’s site was opened in 1903 for epileptics and in 1907 Long Grove Hospital had taken in over 2000 other people. The final building to be constructed was West Park Hospital which was built over the period 1912 to 1921. A Chapel for the cluster was built in the centre. During both World Wars, many patients were moved out to make room for wounded soldiers. The hospital cluster had a large farm including a piggery in which some patients worked, and which provided food for inmates. The remains of the orchard still exist today.
In the 1970’s Sir Keith Joseph began a process of “Care in the Community” and these large mental institutions were gradually emptied. Apart from a few small buildings that still operate under the NHS as Horton Haven and parts of St Ebba’s and West Park all the other buildings have been converted to housing infilled with extensive new housing. The Chapel stood derelict for many years. Some of the farmland has been converted to create Horton Golf Club, whilst Horton Country Park has become a local nature reserve with some paths using the old railway lines and there is now an Equestrian Centre and a Children’s Farm (Hobbledown). Based on an article by Brent Stevens a local historian.