Tuesday 8 May 2012


Grandstands at Epsom.

The Epsom Derby is the most famous horse race in the world and is run on Epsom Downs just outside the town of Epsom. It was founded in1779 by the 12th Earl of Derby who gave his name to the race. It is Britains richest horse race and is a mile and a half.

I went up onto Epsom Downs today to take my daughter, Emily for a job interview at the race course. She is doing a degree in International Events Management at Cardiff University. Working at the Derby, this Summer will give her valuable work experience and enable her to earn some money and not have to ask me for any. Ahem!

The finishing post and the oldest building still in existence at the Derby. A grandstand built in 1879.

While she was in the interview I took the opportunity to take some pictures of the race course.
A grandstand at Epsom.

The Epsom Derby has inspired horse races around the world including the Irish Derby, The Australian Derby, The New Zealand Derby, the Tokyo Yushi, The French Derby and The Kentucky Derby.

The famous Tattenham Corner where Emily Davidson died.

The Queen and the Royal Family attend Epsom Derby every year.

Epsom Grandstand has a corner in the history of cooking, Some might say rather an important corner of cooking history.

Isabella Mary Beeton, was born on the 12th march 1836 and she has become known world wide as Mrs  Beeton. Her father was Henry Dorling, clerk of Epsom Racecourse. He was a widower with four children and they lived in the grandstand at Epsom.
Isabella Beeton

Isabella married Samuel Beeton and they were married in St Marys Parish Church Epsom. Her husband was a publisher. Mrs Beeton wrote and published The Book of Household Management.It was a book  about housekeeping but also about cooking.The book comprised  1,112 pages and 900 of the pages contained recipes. The book was intended as a source of information for the aspiring middle classes.
Book of Household Management.

Mrs Beeton died early of puerperal fever at the age of 28. There is evidence that both her husband and herself contracted syphilis.

Some historic pictures of the Derby over the years.

This painting was painted by William Powell Frith in 1858.

Emily Davidson, the suffragette threw herself under the Kings horse in 1913 at Tattenham Corner.

The finish to the Derby in 1822.


  1. I've never been to a horse race, but I occasionally watch one on the telly. Went to a polo match once. It's great fun watching horses. So beautiful! My mother and her mother (English) before her liked betting on horses, but that gene completely passed me by!

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  3. That's wonderful! Sounds like your daughter is doing very well. I read Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management when I was quite young. My aunt had a copy. So interesting, but as a writer of recipes I must say her recipes were not well written. Someone who truly required a recipe for something would have difficulty. Back then, and for many years afterward, a person already had to know how to make something in order to succeed with a recipe.

  4. Jean, just a thought. All her recipes would have used organic ingredients. There was no other sort of ingredient in the 19th century.She probably never thought in terms of ,organic. It was just way things were.

  5. Just a bit more information about the Derby. On Derby day, Saturday 2nd June, there will be over 200, 000 people on the Downs to see the ultimate race. Jockeys and horse owners from all over the world will arrive by helicopter and land in the middle of the race course. All throughout Derby week helicopters will be flying tworsd Epsom over South London. The sound of rotor blades will be incessant over my house!!!!!. The Queen and the Royal family arrive by Rolls Royces from Epsom Railway Station.There is a whole week of races and events. One part of the Epsom Downs is transformed into one enormous fair ground.

    There are live music events all week that will include Franky Valli and the Four Seasons no less, Will Young and Razorlight. There are all sorts of corporate packages available.If you want to get involved have a look at this link. http://www.epsomdowns.co.uk/live

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  7. Hello Southerner. What a great article on The Derby. I am the great grandson of Henry Dorling mentioned above and went to Epsom Races for the first time in 1946. The late Sir Gordon Richards won 5 races that day, and with my father's help I managed to convert my two shillings into close to a pound--so I was hooked for a lifetime.

    I emigrated to Canada in 1964 and in 2007 there were nine of us Dorlings in our Canadian family. I wrote to Stephen Wallace, Clerk of the Course, that we were hoping to visit the UK and attend the Derby. The response was most generous and I received Owners Badges for us all. We were allowed access to almost everywhere except the Royal Box--it was a wonderful day for us all.

    Thank you for your very well researched and accurate article---I had never seen the photo of Emily Davidsen's bold death.

    I have quite a few stories of the events at the Derby and would be happy to add these if you think worthwhile.

    Kind Regards

    Richard Dorling

    1. I am the Great, Great Granddaughter of Henry Dorling. I think I was the only Dorling to follow in the Racing Game. I trained up in Canada in the late 90's to become a Jockey while doing that I exercised about 15 horses every morning at Fort Erie race track or Woodbine race track in Toronto, Canada. I also rode for King Haven Farms under the training of Roger Attfield at the time. It was an Amazing time in my life.
      My Uncle Richard above helped us get to the 2007 Epsom Down's Derby and it was magical to say the least. I do hope we can do it again in the near future.
      We Dorling's are apart of racing history!!!!
      Hope to see everyone at another Epsom Derby one day!!
      Cheers, Jeannie Dorling

    2. Richard and Jeannie, thank you for placing your comments on my post.It is most interesting to hear your history.
      All the very best, Tony Grant