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Horsham
Horsham bandstand april 2009.JPG
Bandstand in the centre of Carfax
Horsham shown within West Sussex
Area 4.55 sq mi (11.8 km2)
Population 55,657 (2001)
• Density 12,232/sq mi (4,723/km2)
OS grid reference TQ1730
District
  • Horsham
Shire county
Region
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Horsham
Postcode district RH12, RH13
Dialling code 01403
Police Sussex
Fire West Sussex
Ambulance South East Coast
EU Parliament South East England
UK Parliament
  • Horsham
Website Horsham District Council
List of places
UK
England
West Sussex

Horsham /ˈhɔːrʃəm/ is a market town on the upper reaches of the River Arun on the fringe of the Weald in Sussex, England. The town is 31 miles (50 km) south south-west of London, 18.5 miles (30 km) north-west of Brighton and 26 miles (42 km) north-east of the county town of Chichester. Nearby towns include Crawley to the north-east and Haywards Heath and Burgess Hill to the south-east. It is the administrative centre of the Horsham district.

History

The first historical record of Horsham is from AD 947. The name may mean either "horse home" or "Horsa's home" (a Saxon warrior who was granted land in the area).

The town has historically been known for horse trading in early medieval times, iron and brick making up until the 20th century, and brewing more recently.

Geography

Weather

Horsham holds the UK record for the heaviest hailstone ever to fall. On 5 September 1958, a hailstone weighing 140g (4.9 oz) landed in the town. It was similar in size to a tennis ball and impact speeds have been calculated to be 100 m/s (224 mph).

Topography

Horsham is 50 metres (160 ft) above sea level. It is in the centre of the Weald in the Low Weald, at the western edge of the High Weald, with the Surrey Hills of the North Downs to the north and the Sussex Downs of the South Downs to the south. The River Arun rising from ghylls in the St Leonard's Forest area, to the east of Horsham, cuts through the south of the town then makes its way through Broadbridge Heath. The Arun is joined by a number of streams flowing down from the north which rise around Rusper.

Town centre

Horsham has grown up around the Carfax. To the south of the Carfax is the Causeway. This street consists of houses erected in the 17th, 18th and early 19th century and is lined with ancient London Plane trees. The Horsham Museum is at the north end opposite to the recently developed former headquarters of the R.S.P.C.A.. At the south end of the Causeway is the Church of England parish church of St. Mary: Norman in origin, rebuilt in the 13th century and restored in 1864–65 by the Gothic revival architect S.S. Teulon. The area immediately to the south of the parish church is known as Normandy. It was formerly an area of artisans cottages and an ancient well. Fifty metres south is the River Arun. On the northern bank is Prewett's Mill and on the south side is the town's cricket field. A short walk along the banks of the Arun in a south easterly direction is Chesworth Farm, an area of open public access.

Horsham West Street 3
West Street, Horsham, 2009

To the north of the Carfax is a park, Horsham Park, the remnant of what was formerly the Hurst Park Estate. The park has football pitches, a wildlife pond and tennis courts. Leisure facilities, including a swimming complex and a gymnastic centre, have been built on land around the park.

To the east along Brighton Road is Iron Bridge named after the railway bridge that carries the railway from London Victoria to Littlehampton. The area consists of mainly Victorian and Edwardian houses to the north of Brighton Road, whilst to the south there are areas of inter- and post-war housing. This area is known as the East Side.

Suburbs

Horsham has developed beyond the original boundaries to incorporate some of the smaller hamlets which now form part of the outer districts.

Holbrook

An area of Horsham named after a feeder stream of the River Arun. It consists of residential housing, the majority of which is of late 20th century origin. The suburb is substantial enough for two council wards. The hamlet around Old Holbrook House is immediately to the north of the A264 which abuts Holbrook. Holbrook House was previously the home of Sir William Vesey-Fitzgerald, Governor of Bombay and M.P. for Horsham (1852–1875). The Tithe Barn at Fivens Green is the most notable building in the district.

Littlehaven

This hamlet dates back to the late 18th century, when a small number of houses were in existence, with an inn opening in the early part of the 19th century. A station opened in the area in 1907, originally called Rusper Road Crossing halt, but later renamed Littlehaven.

Needles

South-west of the town the Needles estate was laid out from c. 1955, with a mixture of privately owned and council-built houses and bungalows. Land around Hills Farm nearby was sold for development in 1972 and further development took place in the 1980s. The Needles are named after a local farmhouse, called so as it was built using timbers from ships wrecked on the Needles formation.

New Town

In keeping with many other towns, new developments to the east of the town centre were rapid in the early Victorian era, and that area of town became known, as it is today, as New Town. The area contains the Iron Bridge, a steel structure that carries the railway to the south of Horsham.

North Heath

Originally used as a label to describe the northern part of the parish of Horsham (compared to Southwater to describe that part south of the River Arun), this area was developed as a district in the latter part of the 20th century.

Oakhill

This area was originally known as Grub Street, and developed south of Depot Road in the 19th century.

Roffey

All Saints Church, Roffey
All Saints' Church at Roffey

Roffey is north east of the centre of Horsham and as a hamlet dates back to at least the 13th century, with taxation records of 1296 showing 18 liable people in the area. Kelley's Post Office Directory for 1867 describes 'Roughey' as consisting 'of a few farmhouses and cottages. Here is an iron church, capable of accommodating 80 persons'. Maps of the 1880s show Roffey Corner (still spelt Roughey), but appear to label the hamlet as Star Row, with Roffey in use again by the start of the 20th century. A railway station opened as Roffey Road Halt in 1907, closing in 1937. The station is shown in the location now known as Wimland Road. Roffey is a separate ecclesiastical parish with its own parish church—All Saints' Church on Crawley Road, designed in 1878 by Arthur Blomfield. It replaced a temporary building which was licensed for worship in 1856. Roffey Park Institute is based just outside of Horsham, near Colgate.

Tower Hill

Tower Hill is a hamlet that lies one mile south from Horsham on a ridge of land containing a sandstone known as Horsham Stone rising above the town. A quarry existed here from 1830 to 1876. Tower Hill consists of housing dating from mid Victorian to late 20th century. It has a public house called the Boar's Head, formerly the Fox and Hounds. The economic importance of quarrying Horsham Stone to Horsham in the 19th century has left a legacy of toponyms including Stone Pit Field, Stone Barn, Stonyhurst and Stone Pit Wood.

Trafalgar

An area of late 19th and early 20th centuries development on land west of the London Road at North Parade. It consists chiefly of semi-detached houses with corner shops, most of which have closed. Until the mid-20th century it was known as "The Common", after a piece of common land that survived enclosure in Trafalgar Road for many years. Trafalgar forms one of the wards of Horsham Hurst (electoral division) of the Horsham District Council.

Landmarks

In the commercial centre of Horsham is an open pedestrianised square known as the Carfax. This area contains the Town's Memorial to the dead of the two world wars, a substantial, well used bandstand and is the venue for Saturday and Thursday markets. The name Carfax is likely of Norman origin – a corruption of 'Quatre Voies'(four ways) or 'Carrefour', a place where four roads meet. The Carfax was formerly Known as "Scarfoulkes" The derivation of which is uncertain.(See Nameplate on building at North east corner of area). Two other places in England share the name: the Carfax in Oxford and the Carfax in Winchester.

Horsham Heritage Sundial in The Forum - geograph.org.uk - 417435
Horsham Heritage Sundial in The Forum, 2007
Rising-universe
The Rising Universe water sculpture in action.

At the west end of the town centre formerly stood a kinetic water sculpture called the 'Rising Universe', colloquially known as 'The Shelley Fountain'. It was designed by Angela Conner, and erected to commemorate the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley who was born at Field Place in Broadbridge Heath, near Warnham, two miles west from Horsham centre. The fountain was designed to release a torrent of six and a half tons of water periodically, it was 45 ft across at its base, standing 28 ft high. It carried a plaque bearing one of his poems 'Mont Blanc'.

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 13 November 2006, its tenth birthday but was turned off again after that Christmas. In May 2008 the fountain was turned off again due to the failure of its main hydraulic cylinder. On 19 January 2009 the fountain was fenced off for repairs. It was reopened without the fountain functioning. The fountain was again repaired at the start of March 2011 at a cost of more than £30,000 and was removed altogether in June 2016 with cost of upkeep being cited as the main reason.

St Mary'sChurchHorhsamSussexEnglandcirca1910
St. Mary's Parish Church and the River Arun in Horsham circa 1910.

The Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin is the oldest building in Horsham, having been in continuous use for nearly eight centuries. It is located at the end of the Causeway in Normandy, the oldest extant part of Horsham. It has a peal of ten bells.

The earthworks of the eleventh century Horsham or Chennelsbrook Castle can be found near Chennells Brook.

Horsham town hall 2009
The Town Hall

The Town Hall in the Market Square is a much adapted building originally dating from circa 1648 when it was referred to as a 'Market House'. In 1721 a new construction of Portland Stone was built containing a poultry and butter market. The building fell into disrepair and was substantially rebuilt around 1812. In 1888 it became the property of Horsham Urban District Council and was again largely rebuilt. The present building is essentially of late Victorian construction, though preserving some aspects of the earlier buildings. It has been used as council offices and as a magistrates court and more recently housed the Horsham Registry Office on the upper floor. The ground floor was still used as an occasional market place until the Town Hall was closed to be let as a restaurant.

Transport

Road

Horsham lies at the junction of three main routes with the dual carriageway A24 running north to south route from London and Dorking to Worthing. The A264 links Horsham to Crawley and the M23 to the east by modern dual carriageway and to the A29 to the west. The A281 runs between Guildford and Brighton.

Bus services are provided by Metrobus, Stagecoach Group, Arriva Southern Counties and Compass Travel.

Railway

Horsham bus station
Horsham's recently developed bus station.

The railway station, Horsham, is on the Arun Valley Line from Chichester to Crawley, Gatwick and London Victoria. Trains on this line start from Bognor Regis or Portsmouth and Southampton Central, and are coupled at Horsham. Southbound ("down") trains divide here. Other services ("stopping" during the off-peak period) leave Horsham for London Bridge. Sutton & Mole Valley line services go north to Dorking, Epsom, Sutton and London Victoria. In 2012, work finished expanding and modernising the station. Littlehaven Station (previously named Littlehaven Halt), in the north east of the town on the Crawley line, and Christ's Hospital station serving the west of Horsham.

Air

Horsham is 20 km (12 mi) from Gatwick Airport and 65 km (40 mi) from London Heathrow Airport.

Other

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.

Community facilities

Pavillions horsham
Pavilions in the Park

Horsham Park immediately to the north of central Horsham is 24 hectares of open space for the use of the people of Horsham. It contains an 18th-century country house used in part by the Horsham District Council, formal gardens and a maze. At the eastern side is The Pavilions in the Park leisure centre with a gym and a 25m swimming pool run by a private company for Horsham District Council. A BMX and Skate park is located on the Hurst Road side of Horsham Park. The remaining space is used extensively for leisure pursuits such as tennis, football and rugby.

Horsham Museum is located on the Causeway in a half-timbered medieval house. It has local history objects displayed in twenty-six galleries. Situated on North Street is 'The Capitol', the venue (formally Horsham Arts Centre) features a theatre, 2 cinema screens, a studio and gallery. On Lower Tanbridge Way is two storey modernised library run by West Sussex County Council.

Cultural references

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 The History and Antiquities of Horsham has been reproduced in full to enable research online.

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

Comments

Arriva Guildford & West Surrey 3082 emblem
An emblem on the side of an Arriva bus celebrating Horsham's win of the Britain in Bloom contest.

In October 2006, Horsham was pronounced the second best place to live in the UK, only beaten by Winchester. This was claimed by a Channel 4 show, The 10 best and worst places to live in the UK.

The programme mentioned that:

  • Horsham was in the top 15% for low crime;
  • about 70% of students gained 5 A* to 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.

In 2007, a Reader's Digest poll put Horsham as the 25th best place in mainland Britain to bring up a family.

On 27 September 2007, Horsham was awarded as the overall winner of Britain in Bloom in the large town / small city category 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.

Horsham is placed number 27 in the book Crap Towns: The 50 Worst Places To Live In The UK. The satirical book describes Horsham as "a No Fun Zone run by new conservatives for old conservatives."

Twinning

Horsham District twinnings:

  • France St Maixent L'Ecole, Poitou-Charentes, France
  • Germany Lage, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Horsham Town twinnings:

  • Italy Lerici, Liguria, Italy
  • Australia Horsham, Victoria, Australia

Images for kids


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