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The New Well And The Apothecary Livingstone

Around this time there appears the first report of a second well: Benjamin Allen in 1699 published a book on Chalybeate and Purging Waters. He describes the Epsom well, (the first of the purging kind, discovered in 1630 or soon after, he says) in some detail and then refers to the private well newly sunk, owned by Mr. Symonds. In 1711 in a new edition of his book he gives more details of both the well on the common and of the well in the town and confirms that the purging qualities of the latter is due to a salt it contains: half a dram in a pint and shot in small stiriae (i. e. crystallised in small needles or flakes). It seems that the second well was found not long before 1699 when Alien first mentioned it. Lehmann has established that Symonds well was on land near the present Magpie public house. The exact location is uncertain. A disused well was shown on the 1962 issue of 1/1250 and 1/2500 O. S. maps, in this area (grid ref. TQ2054—6060) but this has not been found on any earlier or later maps and there is no sign of it now.

Now Livingstone comes on the scene. He was an apothecary who is said to have settled in the town around 1690. He became a Tithingman, an official appointed by the Manor, in 1692. In 1696 he is recorded as living in Church Street, in a house on the site of the present Grove Road. He must have been an enterprising man: when the Lady of the Manor, Elisabeth Evelyn, was granted a Royal Charter by James II for the right to hold a weekly market and two annual fairs in Epsom, Livingstone leases that right and also manages to get this noted on the 1720 (Owen) edition of Ogilby's strip road maps — a rare "commercial" in this work, and the only change to the original work of 1675 on this sheet.

His enterprises must have prospered: he gave the land on which alms-houses for 12 poor widows were built (in East Street) described later by the Charity commissioners as "Cane's Charity, Livingstone's alms-houses". He died in Epsom in 1727 and was buried there.

After the discovery of the second well he started buying property in the area: first land near where this well was dug and later larger plots in 'Shoulder of Mutton Close' (between present West Street, High Street and South Street). He started building there, before the property was legally his: a bowling green, shops, gaming rooms and a dancing room.

Livingstone in 1707 advertises in the 'Daily Courant' of April 8th as follows:

"The new Wells at Epsom, with variety of Rafling — Shops, will be open'd on Easter Monday next (April 13th old style). There are Shops now to be Let at the said Wells for a Bookseller, Pictures, Haberdasher of Hats, Shoemaker, Fishmonger and Butcher, with Conveniences for several other Trades. It is design’s that a very good Consort of Musick shall attend and play there Morning and Evening during the Season and nothing will be demanded for the Waters drank there".

This advert seems to be more directed towards attracting shop tenants than customers to his well, because it does not stress the attractions, which he is providing. Perhaps in 1707 they were not yet ready.