Founded in 1853 as a boys' school to provide support for poor members of the medical profession such as pensioners and orphans ("Foundationers"), Epsom's long-standing association with medicine was estimated in 1980 as having helped almost a third of its 10,000 alumni enter that proession. The college's patron is the Queen. Its campus is on the outskirts of Epsom, near Epsom Downs on the North Downs, near the racecourse, home to the annual the Epsom Derby. Its buildings date from 1853 and are mostly influenced by the Gothic Revival architecture, described by Prince Albert as the "pointed style of the 14th Century". In 1974, the main building and the College Chapel attained Grade II listed status.
Until the winter of 1965, Epsom College was probably unique in holding athletics in the coldest months of the year, between January and April. This meant that the long jump pit was often frozen. The track surrounded the First XV pitch, and was either frozen or waterlogged.
Applicants who are registered for a place at the College will be contacted in the Michaelmas Term of Year 6 to see whether they wish to be considered for a Confirmed Place at the College. These applicants will be invited to sit the 13+ Pre-Test (Cognitive Ability Tests) in January of Year 6. The College will also contact the applicant's school for a detailed reference in support of their application and the assurance that the pupil is likely to achieve a pass in the Common Entrance Examination at the level required to gain entry to the school. The current Common Entrance pass mark is 60% averaged over the seven core subjects, with a minimum requirement of 55% in English, Mathematics, Science and French. Conditional Place offers will be made to suitable candidates from the Lent Term of Year 6. The qualifying examination to secure an Unconditional Place will be the Common Entrance Examination, taken in Year 8 at the applicant's preparatory school.