The exact country of origin of the English Springer Spaniel is unknown, but it is likely that the origins of the breed are based in Spain as the name suggests.
In the 14th Century writings Gaston de Foix is known to have used dogs very like the modern Springer Spaniel to retrieve, flush and quarter game.
In England by the year 1800, Spaniels had begun to be divided into two groups. Dogs weighing up to 25 lbs were called Cockers or Cocking Spaniels, because they were used for woodcock, and the larger dogs weighing around 45 lbs were called Field Spaniels or English Springer's.
By the year 1812 a pure strain of English Springer's were beginning: 'Mop 1' bred by the Boughey family of Aqualate in Shropshire, although these were rather Clumberish, and with a coat which was inclined to be curly, was still a true Springer type. In those days Norfolk was a great sporting county, and liver & white and black & white Spaniels were much in demand.
In 1902 the Kennel Club granted a special place in their Stud Book for the English Springer Spaniel, and a separate classification at their show in 1903, where Mr. William Arkwright judged the breed and awarded the dog Challenge Certificate to Mr. Winton Smith's 'Beechgrove Will' , with Mr. Harry Jones bitch 'Fansome' best opposite sex. By 1906 'Beechgrove Will' became the breed's first Champion.

Whilst initially one breed of dog, the mid-twentieth century saw The English Springer Spaniel beginning to divide into two distinct lines known to us today as the ‘Show’ English Springer Spaniel and the ‘Working’ English Springer Spaniel.
The ‘Show bred’ as opposed to the ‘Working bred’ ESS can be bigger, with heavier bone and a slightly different shape to the dome of the head, ear set and length and muzzle. Some people might find the ‘Show bred’ ESS more aesthetically pleasing as he is in the main bred for his ‘good looks’. The Working dog is generally bred to improve its keen sense of smell, speed, style, working ability and endurance. Both types, however, have the instinct to work and can be trained to the gun.

(taken from The English Springer Spaniel Club)