A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 6 Part 2, Bramber Rape (North-Western Part) Including Horsham. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1986.

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A P Baggs. C R J Currie. C R Elrington. S M Keeling. A M Rowland, 'Horsham', in A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 6 Part 2, Bramber Rape (North-Western Part) Including Horsham, (London, 1986) pp. 129-131. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/sussex/vol6/pt2/pp129-131 [accessed 29 May 2024].

A P Baggs. C R J Currie. C R Elrington. S M Keeling. A M Rowland. "Horsham", in A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 6 Part 2, Bramber Rape (North-Western Part) Including Horsham, (London, 1986) 129-131. British History Online, accessed May 29, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/sussex/vol6/pt2/pp129-131.

Baggs, A P. Currie, C R J. Elrington, C R. Keeling, S M. Rowland, A M. "Horsham", A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 6 Part 2, Bramber Rape (North-Western Part) Including Horsham, (London, 1986). 129-131. British History Online. Web. 29 May 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/sussex/vol6/pt2/pp129-131.


THE TOWN of Horsham, (fn. 1) a medieval borough which later became one of the chief towns in the county, lies near the Surrey border in the middle of what was one of the largest parishes in Sussex. The ancient parish, which includes Roffey and Southwater, comprised 10,967 a. (4,438 ha.). (fn. 2) Its north-western boundary was natural, following a stream. The eastern boundary with Beeding (later Lower Beeding) parish followed in part the outer boundary of St. Leonard's Forest and in part, apparently, the boundary between two of its bailiwicks. (fn. 3) Elsewhere the parish boundary was less certain: in the southwest it was fixed in 1247 by agreement between Rusper priory as rector and the Knights Templar of Shipley, (fn. 4) while in the west, at Broadbridge Heath, it was disputed with Sullington in 1251 and possibly later. (fn. 5) The medieval borough was bounded by the river Arun on the south and the line of the modern Worthing and Springfield roads and North Parade on the west. Roughly opposite the modern Springfield Park school the boundary continued eastwards beyond the site of the modern railway station and then southwards to include the crossroads of East Street with Park Street and Denne Road. (fn. 6) The area of jurisdiction of the lighting and watching inspectors who succeeded the borough administration in 1835 was similar, but included, for instance, the extraburghal area of Bishopric and the area of recent settlement at North Parade. (fn. 7) In 1878 the two detached parts of Sullington at Broadbridge Heath comprising 120 a. were added to the parish. (fn. 8) Meanwhile in 1875 the urban area, of 790 a., had been put under the authority of a local board of health. (fn. 9) After enlargement on the north-west in 1879 to 839 a. (fn. 10) that area in 1894 became Horsham urban district and civil parish, the rest of the parish, of 10,247 a., becoming Horsham Rural civil parish. (fn. 11) The urban district was twice extended at the expense of the rural parish, gaining 438 a. at Roffey in 1901 and 614 a. east and west of the town in 1927. At the latter date it comprised 1,891 a. (765 ha.). (fn. 12) A parcel of Warnham comprising 39 a. was transferred to Horsham Rural civil parish in 1933, (fn. 13) and a small area of Horsham Rural near Warnham railway station was given in return to Warnham in 1971-2. (fn. 14)

Horsham Town Boundery Extenstions 1875-1927

The present article deals with the history of the ancient parish. The history of the modern development of Broadbridge Heath, part of which originally lay in Sullington, is also described; Faygate, however, which lies partly in the northeast corner of the parish, is reserved for treatment elsewhere. (fn. 15)

Horsham parish lies across the junction of the contrasting geological areas of High and Low Weald. The Tunbridge Wells sandstone of the High Weald extends through the eastern central portion, providing the site of the medieval town on well-drained rising ground north of the river Arun, and reaching c. 300 ft. (91 metres) at Roffey to the north-east. (fn. 16) North and east of the town (fn. 17) before the early 19th century lay the sandy open expanse called Horsham common or, more usually in the past, Horsham heath, (fn. 18) which in geographical terms was almost a western extension of St. Leonard's Forest in Lower Beeding, though not under its jurisdiction. The lord of Shortsfield manor hunted there in 1401 or 1402. (fn. 19) Its chief use, however, was to provide rough pasture for the burgesses of Horsham and the tenants of Shortsfield and other rural manors. By the 18th century it was also yielding the raw materials for brickmaking and broom making, and was the site of stone quarries, tanneries, and windmills. St. Leonard's fair, too, was transferred there from the forest before 1794 and held there until inclosure. (fn. 20) In 1676 a fishpond was licensed to be made there. (fn. 21) Among noneconomic uses the common was a place for military gatherings, (fn. 22) executions, and sporting activities. (fn. 23) In the earlier 19th century the 'romantic' seclusion and perhaps also the wide panoramas of the surrounding country which it afforded were beginning to be appreciated, (fn. 24) though it remained dangerous as the haunt of footpads. (fn. 25) It was inclosed in 1812- 13, however, and afterwards largely built over. (fn. 26) In 1982 only one small piece of the former common survived as waste land, near the Dog and Bacon inn in North Parade.

The rest of the parish lies on Weald clay, which contains extensive outcrops of Horsham stone, especially in the south, besides other sandstones, ironstone, and 'Paludina' limestone. (fn. 27) It is drained largely by the river Arun, formerly called Horsham river or Horsham water, (fn. 28) and its tributary the north river, formerly called Boldings brook and earlier Warnham river, (fn. 29) which formed the boundary between Horsham and Warnham. There are gravel soils along the rivers and streams. (fn. 30) The Weald clay country is undulating. South-west of the town a wide, flat area provided the site for Christ's Hospital school, moved from London in 1902. The extensive school buildings, designed by Sir Aston Webb and Ingress Bell, (fn. 31) were described in 1904 as 'an arrogant red-brick town', (fn. 32) and were in many ways selfsufficient, with their own gas, electricity, and water supplies, the water tower forming a notable landmark. (fn. 33) In the west of the parish formerly lay Broadbridge Heath, an area of open common land on the boundary with Sullington detached and Warnham. Alluded to apparently in 1327, when a Thomas at Heath was listed in Warnham vill, and named in 1441, (fn. 34) it was the scene of a burning at the stake for petty treason in 1752. (fn. 35) After inclosure in 1858 it was partly built over. (fn. 36) The highest land in the ancient parish is north and south of the town. In the north Hurst Hill, as it was called by 1538, (fn. 37) in the road to Rusper, attains nearly 400 ft. (122 metres). South of the town the land rises steeply to the plateau of Denne park on the Horsham stone outcrop, from which there is a sharp descent to the south-east as well. The ascent on the modern Worthing road south-west of the town was known as Horsham Hill in the early 16th century, (fn. 38) but in the early 18th century was also called Picts Hill. (fn. 39)

Much of the parish was formerly heavily wooded. Many estates in the Middle Ages were attached to manors in the south of the county (fn. 40) to provide swine pasture, timber, firewood, and charcoal, as Marlpost did, for instance, for Tarring manor near Worthing c. 1285. (fn. 41) In the earlier 16th century timber from Marlpost was still being taken to Tarring, to repair the Old Palace there. (fn. 42) In 1598 Langhurst wood in the north of Horsham parish was said to have 6,000 loads of timber and 11,500 cords of underwood, and Nutham wood in the south 1,200 loads and 2,500 cords; both then belonged to Sir John Caryll of Warnham, (fn. 43) whose son and namesake was selling timber in large quantities from his lands in Horsham in 1634. (fn. 44) Meanwhile the woods at Marlpost and Chesworth had passed to the Crown, which also owned woods at Coltstaple manor. (fn. 45) At Coltstaple in 1604 there were 1,200 timber trees, or 300 loads of timber, (fn. 46) and in 1609 it and Marlpost both supplied timber for the naval dockyards on the river Thames. (fn. 47) There was much woodland, consisting chiefly of young oaks and older beeches, in the south-east quarter of the parish in 1650. (fn. 48) Woodland continued to be important in that area in the 18th century: in 1717 there were said to be 200 or 300 small trees at Amiesmill farm, though no large timber, (fn. 49) while at or near Coltstaple in 1723, although the Surveyor of Crown Woods had recently cut 461 oaks, over 2,000 timber trees were still standing. (fn. 50) On the Hills manor estate west of Horsham town at the same time Arthur Ingram, Lord Irwin, sold over 200 oak saplings in one transaction to a timber merchant of Lambeth (Surr.). (fn. 51)

The parish has remained well wooded. In 1813 timber on the Hills estate was valued at £3,850. (fn. 52) About a ninth of the parish was woodland in the 1840s, much of it in coppices or shaws, i.e. belts of woodland between closes, and 30 years later the proportion was perhaps similar. (fn. 53) Much woodland remained in 1982.

The more important parks in the parish are described individually below, with the histories of the estates of which they were part. In the Middle Ages there were parks at Chesworth and Roffey manors, and perhaps also at Marlpost. (fn. 54) A park mentioned at Hawksbourne in 1335 and 1346 may be the same as Old Park on the Rusper border. (fn. 55) In addition Sedgewick park in Nuthurst extended into Horsham parish. (fn. 56) That park and those at Chesworth, Roffey, and apparently Hawksbourne were part of St. Leonard's Forest in the mid 15th century. (fn. 57) Chesworth was disparked in the mid 16th century, and Roffey in the 19th. The park at Denne which perhaps existed by 1588 still survived in 1982. New parks were created in the 18th century for Hills house west of the town and Springfield and Horsham Park houses to the north. In addition, the first Warnham park, mentioned between 1634 and 1751, and belonging to Warnham Place in Warnham, lay in Horsham, its site being commemorated by Park farm; in 1700 and later the park contained 80 a. (fn. 58) Other new ornamental parks or gardens were laid out in the 19th and 20th centuries at the various houses built or converted as seats of gentlemen's families, for instance Coolhurst, Holbrook, Wimblehurst, Tanbridge House, and Comptons Brow; (fn. 59) the last-named had a notable forest garden with exotic species. (fn. 60) The park laid out for the new house called Roffey Park in Lower Beeding straddled the boundary with that parish. (fn. 61) Although the park at Hills house was destroyed after 1811, while that belonging to Springfield house was largely built over in the mid 20th century, there nevertheless remained much parkland in the parish in 1982.


  • 1. This article was written in 1982 and revised in 1985. Much inf. was supplied by members of the Horsham mus. soc., especially Mr. A. H. Windrum and Mrs. A. F. Hughes, and by Mr. J. Greenwood, Reigate. The two bks. by Wm. Albery, cited as Parl. Hist. and Hist. Horsham, supply much inf. about the town, but the latter is uncritically compiled and its transcripts are often inaccurate.
  • 2. Census, 1881. For rest of para. cf. O.S. Map 6", Suss. II-III, XIII-XIV, XXIV (1874-80 and later edns.).
  • 3. V.C.H. Suss. vi (3), Lower Beeding (forthcoming); cf. Park gate on the rd. to St. Leonard's ho. in Lower Beeding. Forest gate, however, on the Horsham-Colgate rd., is not recorded before 1874: O.S. Map 6", Suss. XIV (1879 edn.). A Simon at Gate was listed at Roffey in 1296: S.R.S. x. 61.
  • 4. B.L. Cott. MS. Nero E. vi, f. 149v.
  • 5. S.R.S. xlvi, p. 376; P.R.O., E 123/17, f. 223v.
  • 6. P.R.O., T 72/9. The boro. bdry. as described in 1611 and 1650 excluded some burgages, and that depicted in 1792, though roughly correct, was arbitrarily drawn: ibid.; Albery, Hist. Horsham, 51, 53; Arundel Cast. MS. HO 2207, p. i.
  • 7. Horsham Mus. MS. 812, f. [297]; cf. below, local govt. and public servs. For Bishopric and North Parade, below (growth of town).
  • 8. Census, 1881; Chich. Dioc. Kal. (1892), App. p. xiv.
  • 9. W.S.R.O., UD/HO 24/2-3; below, local govt. and public servs. The area is calculated from L.G.B. Prov. Orders Conf. (Aysgarth Union, etc.) Act, 1879, 42 & 43 Vic. c. 78 (Local); O. S. Area Bk. (1876); Census, 1901.
  • 10. L.G.B. Prov. Orders Conf. (Aysgarth Union, etc.) Act, 1879.
  • 11. Census, 1901; W.S.R.O., UD/HO 24/10.
  • 12. Census, 1901-31; W.S.R.O., WOC/CC 7/1/4, 11.
  • 13. Census, 1931 (pt. ii); W.S.R.O., WDC/CL 60/2/15.
  • 14. W.S.R.O., WOC/CC 7/3/14A-B.
  • 15. V.C.H. Suss. vi (3), Rusper (forthcoming).
  • 16. Geol. Surv. Map 1", solid and drift, sheet 302 (1972 edn.).
  • 17. Gardner, Suss. Map (1795).
  • 18. e.g. Albery, Hist. Horsham, 209; Arundel Cast. MS. M 279, rot. 4; Westm. Abbey Mun. 4021; S.R.S. iii, p. 35.
  • 19. Westm. Abbey Mun. 4021.
  • 20. Below, econ. hist.
  • 21. Horsham Mus. MS. 1663A (MS. cat.).
  • 22. e.g. Hurst, Horsham (1868), 16; Albery, Hist. Horsham, 512, 517, 537. The muster of Bramber rape ordered at Horsham in 1626 was presumably also held on the com.: S.A.C. xl. 17.
  • 23. Below (town as co. centre; soc. and cultural activities); cf. Albery, Hist. Horsham, 282.
  • 24. Dudley, Horsham, 52-3; Hurst, Horsham (1889), 157.
  • 25. Albery, Hist. Horsham, 247.
  • 26. Below.
  • 27. Geol. Surv. Map 1", solid and drift, sheet 302 (1972 edn.).
  • 28. Wiston Archives, i, p. 85; S.A.C. lxix. 149; E.S.R.O., SAS/DD 365 (TS. cat.); W.S.R.O., Ep. 1/25/3 (1635).
  • 29. W.S.R.O., Ep. 1/25/3 (1635); O.S. Map 6", Suss. XIII (1880 edn.).
  • 30. Geol. Surv. Map 1", solid and drift, sheet 302 (1972 edn.).
  • 31. V.C.H. Suss. ii. 435-6.
  • 32. E. V. Lucas, Highways and Byways in Suss. 122; cf. below, pl. facing p. 192.
  • 33. Horsham Illustrated, 7; O.S. Map 6", Suss. XIII. SE. (1898 edn.).
  • 34. S.R.S. x. 154; P. N. Suss. (E.P.N.S.), i. 240.
  • 35. Albery, Hist. Horsham, 279.
  • 36. Below.
  • 37. Arundel Cast. MS. M 279, rot. 3; cf. S.R.S. liv. 90; O.S. Map 6", Suss. III (1874-9 edn.).
  • 38. Lamb. Pal. Libr., ED 1050, m. 1; Arundel Cast. MS. M 279, rot. 3; W.S.R.O., Add. MS. 19502 (TS. cat.).
  • 39. E.S.R.O., SAS/DD 365 (TS. cat.); cf. 4 Geo. III, c. 44 (Priv. Act); O.S. Map 6", Suss. XIII (1880 edn.).
  • 40. Below, manors and other estates.
  • 41. S.R.S. lvii. 29.
  • 42. S.A.C. lxiv. 177.
  • 43. B.L. Add. Ch. 18883; cf. below, Warnham, manors and other estates (Warnham Pla.).
  • 44. B.L. Add. Ch. 18945 (MS. cal.).
  • 45. S.A.C. xxxviii. 148; P.R.O., E 310/25/143, rot. 23.
  • 46. P.R.O., E 178/4639.
  • 47. B.L. Harl. MS. 703, f. 140v.; cf. Cal. S.P. Dom. Addenda 1660-85, 42.
  • 48. S.A.C. xxiii. 272, 282, 286; xxiv. 230; xxv. 48-53.
  • 49. S.N.Q. xv. 222.
  • 50. B.L. Add. MS. 5705, f. 87.
  • 51. Leeds Dist. Archives, TN/HM 28.
  • 52. Arundel Cast. MS. MD 1109.
  • 53. W.S.R.O., TD/W 68; O.S. Map 6", Suss. II-III, XIII-XIV, XXIV (1874-80 edn.). For shaws cf. W.S.R.O., Hurst MSS., valuation of Pilfolds fm. 1825.
  • 54. Cal. Pat. 1330-4, 391.
  • 55. Ibid. 1334-8, 198; Cat. Anct. D. vi, C 5742; cf. S.R.S. xix. 152; xxxiii, p. 3, which describe Hawksbourne as Hawksbourne or Old Park.
  • 56. S.A.C. xxv. 43-53.
  • 57. V.C.H. Suss. vi (3), Lower Beeding (forthcoming).
  • 58. B.L. Add. Ch. 18945, 18966 (MS. cal.); W.S.R.O., Add. MS. 24963 (TS. cat.); Lytton MSS. pp. 36, 50; Wiston Archives, i, p. 91.
  • 59. O.S. Map 6", Suss. II-III, XIII-XIV, XXIV (1874- 80 and later edns.); below, manors and other estates.
  • 60. Country Life, 26 July 1930, pp. 118-19.
  • 61. O.S. Map 6", Suss. XIV. NW. (1899 edn.).