infobox UK place
country = England
official_name= Horsham
population = 47,804
shire_district= Horsham
shire_county = West Sussex
region= South East England
constituency_westminster= Horsham
post_town= Horsham
dial_code= 01403
os_grid_reference= TQ175305
latitude= 51.0618
longitude= -0.3246

Horsham is a market town situated on the River Arun in the Horsham District of West Sussex, England with a population of roughly 50,000. It is the administrative and market centre of Horsham District.


There are a number of defined suburbs: Littlehaven, North Heath, Holbrook and Old Holbrook, New Town & Iron Bridge and the ancient settlement of Roffey – originally a separate village mentioned in the Domesday Book but now a suburb north east of the centre of Horsham.

Broadbridge Heath is two miles to the west of Horsham town centre and separated from Horsham by the A24.

The area adjacent to Horsham Common now occupied by houses on Merryfield Drive was known until the 1960s as Jew's Meadow.


Horsham is the largest town in the Horsham District Council area. The second tier of local government is by West Sussex County Council, based in Chichester. In addition there are various Parish Councils.

The town is the centre of the parliamentary constituency of Horsham, recreated in 1983.
Francis Maude has served as Member of Parliament for Horsham since 1997. Maude is also Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office and Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

History and development

The "Horsham Point" - a Mesolithic arrowhead - is sometimes claimed as the birth of distinctly British culture, since it is the earliest known artifact that postdates the separation (due to glacial meltwater filling the Channel) of Britain from the continent.

The first mention of Horsham was in King Eadreds land charter of AD 947 . The town had connections to the sale of horses and the name is believed to be derived from "Horse Ham", a settlement where horses were kept.

An alternative explanation is that "Horsham" is a contraction of "Horsa's Ham" named after the Saxon warrior who was said to have been given lands in the area. However, this is considered unlikely by most local historians.

Despite having been in existence for some 140 years at the time of the survey, Horsham is not mentioned in the Domesday Book [Albery, W. (1947) "A Millennium of Facts in the History of Horsham and Sussex. 947-1947.", Horsham, Horsham Museum Society] either because it was never visited by inspectors, or was simply 'left out' of the final version. It lies within the ancient Saxon administrative division of the Rape of Bramber.

In ancient times Horsham was controlled by the powerful de Braose family. [ [http://books.google.com/books?id=o28uAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA245&lpg=PA245&dq=%22denne+park%22+eversfield&source=web&ots=PrHjroPz2Z&sig=kzdqsrTEhsSwjRQ-aeiKrgj7tDY&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=9&ct=result A Compendious History of Sussex, Vol. I, Mark Antony Lower, George P. Bacon, Lewes, 1870] ] Later the Eversfield family, which had risen from Surrey County obscurity into a powerhouse of ironmasters and landowners, built Denne Park House, their seat. [ [http://books.google.com/books?id=faYMAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA333&lpg=PA333&dq=%22denne+park%22&source=web&ots=eadkDx4Hgh&sig=Qv5Hr59Bykv3aGNYdp-F2riyGCk&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=6&ct=result A Handbook for Travellers in Sussex and Kent, R.J. King, John Murray, London, 1858] ] The family later represented Horsham in Parliament, and controlled the Eversfield Estate in St. Leonards-on-Sea, where the seaside promenade is named for the family. [ [http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/nra/searches/subjectView.asp?ID=F5604 Eversfield Family of Denne Park, Horsham, Manorial Records and Deeds, 1430-1903, Hastings Museum and Art Gallery, National Register of Archives, The National Archives, nationalarchives.gov.uk] ]

Horsham had two weekly markets in the Middle Ages [ Interview with Miss M.Page, Horsham resident 1933-2006, for many years Auctioneer's Clerk at the weekly livestock market: Horsham Museum Society Archive] , and was noted locally for its annual fairs.

Despite a local iron industry which stayed until the seventeenth century and a prosperous brewing industry, Horsham remained primarily a market town serving the many farms in the area until the early 20th century, when other industry and residential development began to proliferate. One of the most important of these was the manufacture of bricks from the Wealden Clay on which Horsham sits. Warnham and Wealden Brickworks still operate two miles north of Horsham and there are disused workings throughout the area notably at Southwater which is now developed as an education centre and leasure park.

Horsham prospered during the Victorian era and early 20th century. The town, along with others, has been well documented photographically by Francis Frith. The pictures record many of the landmarks that are still in place today, although some, such the War Memorial, Jubilee Fountain and Carfax Bandstand, have been relocated.

Horsham remained a prominent brewery town until 2000 when the King and Barnes Brewery was closed on merger with Hall & Woodhouse, brewers of Dorset. King & Barnes was formed in 1906 from the merger of King & Sons, malsters existing from 1850 and G H Barnes & Co., brewers whose origins date back to 1800. The brewery remained in the King Family hands until the merger in 2000 when production ceased permanently. Their most famous brews included: Sussex Ale, Wealden Ale, Broadwood, Festive and Old Ale. The last member of the King family involved in the company still brews in Horsham as WJ King & Co (Brewers)and supplies real ales to local pubs. There are two other small brewers currently operating in Horsham: Hepworth's is run by a former head brewer at King & Barnes and Welton's a company who were formed in Capel, Surrey about fifteen years ago and have been in Horsham for the past four years.

The town has grown steadily over recent years to a population of over 50,000. This has been facilitated by the completion of both an inner and outer town bypass. The location of any new growth is the subject of intense debate. Certainly, the town will fight hard to retain the "strategic housing gap" between itself and its large neighbour Crawley. However the latest plans by the District Council include a large neighbourhood directly adjacent to Crawley potentially eating into that gap.

Town centre

Horsham has grown up around the Carfax, which is a meeting area place of five roads. Part of this has been closed to traffic in recent years. Two shopping centres, Piries Place and Swan Walk, are located close by to the Carfax. There are also two main shopping streets; East Street and the pedestrianised West Street. A new shopping area and public square, the Forum, has recently been completed to the south of West Street, off Blackhorse Way, however it is still undergoing some further work although people have shopped there.

To the south of the Carfax is the Causeway. This tranquil, little altered street is lined with ancient houses, and leads to the Norman church of St. Mary. (Anglican) Beyond the church is the River Arun, Prewetts Mill and the town cricket field.

To the north of the Carfax is a large park, known locally as Horsham Park, the remnant of what was formerly the Hurst Park Estate. The park has numerous football pitches, a wildlife pond and tennis courts. Various leisure facilities, including a modern swimming complex, have been built on land around the park.

To the East along the Brighton Road is Iron Bridge named after the Railway Bridge that carries the railway to London and the South Coast. The area consists of mainly Victorian and Edwardian houses to the north of the Brighton Road whilst to the south there are areas of inter and post war housing. This area was previously known as New Town.

At the west end of the town centre stands a large modern water sculpture known as the "Rising Universe" fountain, more commonly known locally as "The Shelley Fountain". It was designed by Angela Connor, and erected to commemorate the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley who was born at Broadbridge Heath near Horsham. It carries a plaque bearing one of his poems. The fountain was turned off in the spring of 2006 to save water. Despite recycling it used 180 gallons a day to cover evaporation and filtration losses. However, the council has made water saving efficiencies elsewhere and the fountain was turned on again on November 13th 2006, its tenth birthday. (The Shelley Fountain & the Water Features in the Forum were turned off again after Christmas.)


On 27 September 2007 Horsham was awarded as the overall winner of Britain in Bloom in the Large town / small city category in the whole of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland with a Gold Award. It also has the honour of being presented with the Royal Horticultural Society’s ‘Bloomin’ Wild’ award which reflected the theme for year’s national judging.

On the 26 October 2006 Horsham was pronounced the second best place to live in the UK, beating off the likes of Epsom and Tunbridge Wells and only beaten by Winchester. This was claimed by a Channel 4 show 'The 10 best and worst places to live in the UK'. The show was statistical and was not of personal opinion. The show mentioned that:

*Horsham was in the top 15% for low crime
*About 70% of students gained 5 A* - C grades at GCSE
*Over 85% of the workforce is economically active
*Horsham has a high life expectancy of 76 years for men and 83 for women
*There are no official homeless people living in Horsham

Horsham was certainly proud to be regarded so highly as a leading UK town but it was not unexpected. 7 out the 10 best towns were located in South East England. [ [http://www.channel4.com/4homes/ontv/best&worst/2006/best.html "Best and Worst Places to Live 2006", Channel 4, 26 October 2006] ]

In 2007 a Reader's Digest poll put Horsham as the 25th best place in mainland Britain to bring up a family. [ [http://www.readersdigest.co.uk/best-places-in-britain-to-raise-a-family-i-227.html "Best Places in Britain to Bring Up a Family", Reader's Digest, 2007] ]

Location and transport


Horsham lies at the junction of three routes.
* the A24 north to south route from London and Dorking to Worthing
* the A264/A29 north east to south west route from Crawley to Chichester
* the A281 north west to south east route from Guildford to Brighton


The town has one main railway station, Horsham railway station, on the Arun Valley Line from Chichester to Crawley, Gatwick and London Victoria. Sutton & Mole Valley line services continue north to Dorking, Epsom, Sutton and London Bridge. There is also Littlehaven Station, (referred to on occasion as Littlehaven Halt, its previous name) in the north east of the town on the Crawley line.


Cyclists, pedestrians and horseriders can reach Guildford and Shoreham via the Downs Link, a long distance bridleway and cycle route which follows the now disused Horsham-Guildford, and Horsham-Shoreham railway lines and passes through Southwater, just to the south of Horsham. Most bus services are run by Arriva, Stagecoach, Compass Bus and Metrobus.


Officially Horsham is twinned with two towns: St Maixent L'Ecole in France and Lage in Germanycite web | title = Horsham District Twinning Association | publisher = Horsham District Council | url = http://www.horsham.gov.uk/your_area/your_area_3280.asp | accessdate = 2007-06-13 ] .

Although it is loathe to admit it,Fact|date=July 2008 Horsham is also twinned with Lerici in Italy. This twinning is confirmed by Jeremy Knight, the museum curator and by Burrows online town guide.cite web | title = Horsham Town Guide| publisher = Burrows | url = http://www.burrows.co.uk/horshamguide/ | accessdate = 2008-02-28 ] .


The main secondary schools in Horsham are:
*Tanbridge House School (Mixed Comprehensive),
*Millais School (Girls' Comprehensive),
*Forest School, (Boys' Comprehensive).

Horsham is also home to the well-known:
*College of Richard Collyer, (sixth form) said to be Sussex's oldest school, founded in 1532, and known more commonly as "Collyer's", on Hurst Road. This road also has on it the Arun House adult education centre (A constituent institution of the Central Sussex College).
*Christ's Hospital, To the south of the town, is the 'Bluecoat School, a public school founded in 1552, with strong links to the City of London, which moved to the area in 1902.

Emergency services facilities

Horsham Community Hospital, is open weekdays, and is located on Hurst Road. The town also has its own law courts, ambulance station, fire station and police station, again located on Hurst Road.

Leisure and culture

Horsham has various facilities for leisure and culture:

* The Pavilions in the Park - a leisure centre with gym and swimming pool, located in Horsham park.
* Ten pin bowling alley, with an arcade section, also located in Horsham park.
* Laser Quest located at the bowling alley
* Chameleon - a local nightspot, with a pool room , beneath the bowling alley.
* A BMX and Skate park located on the Hurst Road side of the park.
* The Green baize snooker club offers 12 full size tables and bar
* Horsham Museum is located on the well-preserved Causeway (see section: Town Centre)
* The district indoor bowls centre and a large leisure complex at nearby Broadbridge Heath with full sized running track and 'Kinetika' Gym, which is the venue for various events and community leisure activities.
* A two screen cinema and theatre complex, called 'The Capitol' cite web | title = The Capitol | publisher = Horsham District Council | url = https://www.esro.thecapitolhorsham.com/PEO/index.asp | accessdate = 2007-07-04 ]
* A two storey modernised library.
* A shopping centre called "Swan Walk"
* A shopping area called "Piries Place"
* A shopping area called "The Carfax"
* The former Drill Hall on Denne Road is used as a venue for a wide range of events, including a tobacco, alcohol and drug free dance night for under seventeens, held there five times a year.

Trivia and legends

* The last man to die of pressing in the whole of England was John Weekes of Horsham. He was charged with robbery and murder of a woman along with three accomplices, one of which was a small boy used to sneak inside the woman's house and open access for the other three. When police found stolen property in the possession of the men, they easily persuaded the boy into turning King's evidence. Two of the other accomplices were convicted, but when John Weekes had his turn to plead, he refused to say anything. Once the judges brought in eight witness who swore Weekes could talk and was not dumb, they gave him time in the cells. When he refused further to say a single word, the judges were forced to find him not guilty of murder. Instead, he was convicted of 'standing mute through malice'. Weekes was placed under 3 hundredweight boards and the sixteen stone gaoler jumped a top of him. Local folklore continues the story, extending it to include the death of his executioner days later, sometimes in the same spot where the execution was carried out. Some think that he was a mute.

* Folklore tells of a dragon in the nearby St Leonard’s Forest. St Leonard was a 5th century French hermit who actually never landed on British soil, never mind the forest. He is the patron saint of pregnant women and prisoners of war. He is also thought to protect lost souls at sea. His connection with Horsham is that, legend has it; he fought with a dragon in the forest now bearing his name. A sculpture depicting the dragon, along with a plaque telling the story, is now in Horsham’s Park. It was erected to celebrate the millennium. Photos of the dragon in its protective maze can be found on the [http://www.hiddenhorsham.co.uk/37/37.htm Hidden Horsham] site.The public house in nearby Colgate is called The Dragon by way of a reference to this legend.

* Buffalo Bill's Wild West visited Horsham on June 15 1904 staging two shows on one day. See the advert and press report [http://www.hiddenhorsham.co.uk/56/buffalobill.htm feature] on Hidden Horsham. The shows took place on an area adjacent to Horsham Common known as Jew's Meadow. This area is now occupied by houses on Merryfield Drive.

* Residents of Petworth Drive, a street in the Holbrook suburb of Horsham, famously ran [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlb9yCsAVdY a large Christmas lights display] annually to raise money for charity. The last show was in 2007/8

* The last man to be put to death for homosexuality in England was in Horsham in 1834.

* Public executions generally took place at a place called North Heath now a suburb of Horsham. The road to the execution site was known for many years as Gibbet's Road but was later renamed Giblet's Road with an extension now called Giblet's Way.

* There was a legend associated with a track in St. Leonard's forest to the South of Horsham, the track or footpath being called "Mick Miles' Race". Apparently a gentleman called Mick Miles one night beat the devil in a race in order to keep his soul, but no other details known except that no trees have grown on the 'race' since that fateful day.

* A man's life was saved by his mobile phone when he was shot chasing a man who robbed the jewelers at gunpoint, and the bullet was stopped by the mobile phone in his top pocket.


Horsham is home to Horsham Cricket Club, who were National Champions in 2005. The ground at Cricketfield is used twice a season by Sussex CCC for matches.

Horsham F.C. are the town's senior football club and currently (2008-09) play in the Isthmian League Premier Division. This is currently the highest division the club have ever played in. They have had some success in recent seasons reaching the final of the Sussex Senior Cup in 2007 and they reached the 2nd round of the cup in 07-08 losing in a replay to Swansea City. The team currently play in Worthing whilst they seek a new ground in the town. The dedicated followers of the team are known as the 'Lardy Boys' The latest news from the club can be found at the Hornets Review website, link follows [http://www.hornetsreview.co.uk]

Horsham YMCA FC founded in 1898 are playing their 2008/9 season in the Sussex County League Division One. They are nick-named 'The YMs' and play their home games at Gorings Mead in the Iron Bridge part of Horsham. [http://www.horshamymcafc.com/]

Horsham RFU who play at the Coolhurst Ground are the town's premier rugby union team.

Holbrook RFC are a smaller rugby club, based at The Holbrook Club in north Horsham. It was originally formed in 1971 as Sunallon RFC, which was the name of the then Sun Alliance Sports & Social Club. This then developed into Sun Alliance RFC and following a merger with the Liverpool based Royal Insurance in 1996 into Royal & Sun Alliance RFC (RSA). Holbrook RFC now have 2 teams as of 08/09 season with the 1sts in Sussex league 1 following promotion and 2nds in sussex league 3. Link follows [http://www.holbrookrfc.co.uk]

Horsham Chess Club is one of the oldest chess clubs in the country and was first mentioned in the local press in 1879. The current chairman, John Cannon has penned a remarkable history of the chess club including Horsham events such as the living chess experiment, link follows [http://www.horshamchessclub.btik.com/p_About_Us.ikml] . Continuing to field four teams in the Mid-Sussex league it continues to periodically win this tough league, link follows [http://www.horshamchessclub.btik.com]

Horsham Gymnastic Club have a national reputation for producing top female gymnasts a number of whom have progressed to the England and UK National squad.

Literary connections

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had the fictitious Openshaw family, in the Sherlock Holmes story, The Five Orange Pips residing in the town.

The first illustrated history of Horsham was written in 1836 by Howard Dudley at the age of 16. It includes descriptions of St Mary's Church and other buildings along with lithographs and wood-cut images of the town. The book entitled [http://www.hiddenhorsham.co.uk/58/howarddudley01.htm The History and Antiquities of Horsham] has been reproduced in full to enable research on line

Notable deceased residents

* John Roland Abbey (1894-1969), Book collector.
* Edward Bainbridge Copnall (1903-1973) The Artist and president of the Royal Society of British Sculptors was born and lived in Horsham. One of his works, a sculpture titled 'The Astronomer' was presented to the College of Richard Collyer in the town, by his sister Phyllis Millar and is on display in the upper quadrangle. Other examples of his work are kept by Horsham Museum.
* John Copnall(1928-2007) artist and teacher, a leading English abstract painter and teacher at the London Central School of Art and Design.
* Robert Blatchford(1851-1943) author and socialist
* Henry Burstow (1826-1916), singer and bell-ringer, important to the early twentieth-century folk-song revival and for his "Reminiscences of Horsham" published in 1911.
* Catherine Howard(c1520-1542) , one of King Henry VIII's wives, lived in Horsham.
* Hammond Innes (1913 -1998),Author, was born in Clarence Road.
* John Guille Millais (1865-1931), painter, naturalist and author, son of the Pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais lived in Horsham in the 1900s.
* Raoul Millais (1901-1999), artist, son of John Guille Millais
* Edward Mote(1797-1874), Writer of the hymn 'My hope is built on nothing less'
* Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) was born at Field Place, west of Horsham, near Broadbridge Heath.

Notable living residents

* Harry Enfield english comedian attended Collyers sixth form college. His famous Kevin the Teenager character made mention of living on Merryfield Drive in Horsham. Also Stavros the Kebab-Shop owner is allegedly based upon the owner of the Greek Fish & Chip Shop near the station in the mid-70s.
* Robin Goodridge - drummer in rock band Bush attended Tanbridge House School.
* Jamie Hewlett - artist/cartoonist and creator of the comic strip Tank Girl (made into a film in 1995) and co-creator of the band Gorillaz (nominated for five Grammy Awards in December 2005), attended both Tanbridge House School and the recently closed Northbrook Art College
* Douglas Maddon, Novelist and former lecturer at Collyer's sixth form college
* William Beer,Sussex CC Cricketer.
* Chris Nash, Sussex CC Cricketer.
* Micheal Thornly, Sussex CC Cricketer.
* Simon Nye , writer of Men Behaving Badly, attended Collyers when it was still a Grammar School
* Tim Slade - co-founder of active wear and outdoor clothing fashion label Fat Face attended Tanbridge House School.
*The Feeling - A pop band who recorded hit singles such as "Sewn", "Fill My Little World", "Never Be Lonely", "Love It When You Call" and "Rosé" (album "Twelve Stops and Home") Three of the members attended St. John's Catholic Primary School.
**Paul Stewart - Musician.
**Ciaran Jeremiah - Musician.
**Kevin Jeremiah - Musician.
*Jamie Taylor,Footballer for Dagenham and Redbridge F.C in football league two
* Faye White, footballer captain of England and player for Ottawa Fury, formerly of Arsenal

External links

* [http://www.horsham.gov.uk/ Horsham District Council] - Local Government website
* [http://www.visithorsham.co.uk/ Visit Horsham] - Official Horsham Town Centre Guide
* [http://www.virtualhorsham.co.uk/ Virtual Horsham] - High resolution aerial images of Horsham Town Centre
* [http://www.horshamforum.co.uk/ Horsham Forum] - The community forum for Horsham residents and businesses.
* [http://www.hiddenhorsham.co.uk/ Hidden Horsham] - A locally generated site with photos of 'hidden' Horsham; features and fixtures that you pass every day but don't have time to notice. Includes some local history relating to each feature
* [http://www.hiddenhorsham.co.uk/francisfrith1.htm Francis Frith's] view of Victorian Horsham up to 1960s
* [http://www.wscountytimes.co.uk/ West Sussex County Times] - Horsham's local newspaper
* [http://www.hiddenhorsham.co.uk/83/denneparkhouse.htm Denne Park House, Hidden Horsham, hiddenhorsham.co.uk]


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