Arisen from the ashes
Ewell Court House has fully reopened after extensive rebuilding and renovation following the devastating fire two years ago.
The house was reopened by the Mayor of Epsom & Ewell, Councillor Christopher Frost, who said: “It is fantastic to celebrate the reopening of a facility where the local community can, and does, come together. I pay tribute to those who have worked so hard and so skilfully to recreate a building of which the Borough can be proud. With the considerable financial pressures it is facing, I’m also pleased that the Council was able to find the funding to ensure that Ewell Court House is not just reopening the same as it was before, but better.”
Councillor Jan Mason, Chairman of the Council’s Leisure Committee, remembered her despair when she first saw the fire ravished building. She paid tribute to the firefighters who managed to save the majority of the structure and to all the individuals and organisations who were involved in its re-instatement. She added “I love this building, not just its fabric, but because of its value to the local community. This building has been a community asset for a century. With the restoration now complete, I hope it will remain so for another 100 years”.
Paul Redington from Zurich Municipal, Epsom & Ewell Borough Council's insurer comments: 'Putting the customer first is at the core of what Zurich Municipal does – we aren’t interested in just writing a cheque and walking away. That we could work alongside Epsom & Ewell Borough Council towards an appropriate and agreed upon renovation is testament to the good working relationship we have. The Council and all the parties involved should be very proud of such a respectful restoration to a much loved community building.'
The Council is once again taking bookings for room hire at the house which is much favoured as a wedding venue as well as hosting meetings and various community activities.
Top: a couple of images taken on the day of the fire
Bottom: Revealed the fully refurbished (and rebuilt) Ewell Court House
A brief history of Ewell Court House
Avenue House was a gentleman’s’ residence built near the old farm of Ewell Court in the late 1600’s. In the 1700’s it was owned by the Bridges family and in the 1800’s was being used as the headquarters for their gunpowder business. In 1879, John Bridges married Edith Tritton and decided to create a new home by remodelling Avenue House and extensively landscaping its grounds. On completion, the house was renamed Ewell Court. Later owners, the Stoddarts, facing financial difficulties in 1935, sold the house to the Council. As the centre of World War II civil defence for West Ewell, ambulances, air raid wardens and even a gas decontamination unit were based at the house. In 2003, the Council decided to sell the building for residential development however local residents strongly opposed the decision and it was reversed. Instead, the Council, in partnership with the local residents groups, elected to revitalise Ewell Court House as a community facility, funded in part by the hire of its rooms for functions.
In the early morning of 10 December 2013, a low-powered frost inhibitor in the roof space caused a fire. Ten fire engines fought the blaze which destroyed 50% of the roof and various parts of the upper structure. Water used by the firefighters severely damaged ceilings, ornate plaster work and floors. However some of the building was unscathed and the public library and children’s nursery that occupy part of the building were able to reopen within a few days.