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 Horsham: a brief cameo

Modern Horsham can trace its ancestry back to Saxon times when a settlement was built at an important north-south east-west crossroads in what was then a much forested part of the Weald.

Horsham Town with its population of some 51000 is still at a junction of five main roads linking it to Worthing, Guildford, Dorking, Crawley and Brighton.

Horsham from Denne Hill

Although now bypassed to its west and north by modern dual carriageways, the town centre still celebrates this meeting of five routes in its name “Carfax” (only two others exist at Oxford and Swindon).

The Town is also a junction for two railway routes from London to the coast and has fast and frequent electrified services to the capital from its stations in North Street and at Littlehaven.

Carfax - Kings Head HotelAround the Carfax and the immediate connecting streets are some of the oldest houses and shops in Horsham. Much archaeological research has revealed sixteenth century timber frame buildings nestling behind their more recent facades. In particular, mention must be made of the Causeway, a tree-lined road leading to the 900 year old Parish Church of St Mary’s.

Other Churches abound and together meet the spiritual needs of the population in a variety of architectural styles.

The Town boasts a reassuring mix of individual retail units and major stores and shopping mall. Additionally it offers a wide range of restaurants and public houses to suit all tastes and pockets.

The Forum Horsham has a rich tradition as a market town and this is reflected in the number of weekly open air markets which complement the adjoining outlets and add colour to the shopping experience.

Located in the northern part of the district, Horsham Town is the administrative centre of the 206 square miles of this largely rural area of West Sussex. The Horsham District Council is organised on the cabinet system of local government and provides environmental, leisure and waste services to the whole district.

The Council’s offices are situated at the edge of Horsham Park, a large area of parkland near the town centre and host to a new swimming and leisure complex, night club and within a short distance of the refurbished Capitol arts theatre.

Whilst a significant number of its citizens commute to London or work at nearby Gatwick Airport, Horsham itself does have major employers in Novartis (pharmaceuticals) and Royal & Sun Alliance (insurance) as well as modern industrial and factory units.

Development pressures on the Town are intense and the challenge for the foreseeable future is to balance the housing needs of an increasing population with the understandable desire to maintain the ambience of this old town which makes it so popular with its own citizens and visitors alike.

Peter Tobutt