Horsham: Sussex town guide 2016
PUBLISHED: 12:34 08 March 2016 | UPDATED: 12:34 08 March 2016
In the first in our series of town guides, Jenny Mark-Bell pays a visit to the historic market town of Horsham, West Sussex
Horsham is a thriving market town that provides a home for commuters, thanks to its proximity to London and Gatwick, and people who work locally. It’s home to the RSPCA’s headquarters and other large, influential companies, as well as the famous independent school, Christ’s Hospital.
In recent years Horsham has become something of a foodie destination, with Michelin-starred Restaurant Tristan and sophisticated Japanese fare at Wabi on the Carfax, and Great British Menu chef Matt Gillan’s The Pass at nearby South Lodge.
This lovely multi-purpose venue was originally a cinema, becoming Horsham Arts Centre in the 1980s. It reopened in 2003 as an arts complex containing two cinemas (one of which is 3D), a theatre, gallery space and refreshment areas. The packed programme of events includes musicals, ballet, live music and children’s programming, with highlights this month including Coppélia and Horsham Symphony Orchestra. You can contact the Box Office on 01403 750220.
Named after local 19th century headmaster William Pirie whose statue, complete with donkey and cart, is a much-loved local landmark, Piries Place is a semi-covered shopping area with independent retailers including a pet shop and a comic/collectibles store. There’s also a range of bars and restaurants.
Indoor shopping centre with a varied selection of well-known high street retailers (Marks & Spencer, WHSmith) and fashion brands (Jones Bootmaker, Accessorize, Fat Face etc).
A lovely, leafy space in the centre of Horsham and close to both the railway station and Swan Walk. There’s plenty to do for families, with a lake, sporting facilities and a good skate park.
An open-air shopping area that is home to several department stores including Beales and TK Maxx. A water feature and sundial sculpture make it a pleasant place to sit and enjoy a coffee. It’s a hub of the Piazza Italia event which takes place over the Easter weekend (25-28 March) and includes thrilling car and motorbike parades, street food stalls and live events.
The town’s museum and art gallery on The Causeway are free to explore and include a range of permanent exhibits, including displays depicting the history of Horsham, a costume room and archaeological discoveries. The Shelley Room pays tribute to Horsham’s most famous son, Percy Bysshe, who was born in nearby Field Place. The museum has a number of his first editions and a rare bust of the poet.
Officially named The Rising Universe, this large water sculpture is known locally as The Shelley Fountain. The work of Angela Conner, it was commissioned to celebrate the bicentenary of Shelley’s birth in 1996. The sculpture uses recycled water but nevertheless some is lost due to evaporation, and it has been switched off a number of times due to water shortages and repairs. An extract from Shelley’s Mont Blanc appears on the sculpture.
St Mary’s Church
The oldest surviving building in Horsham, St Mary’s Church originally dates back to 1247. The structure is still recognisably Early English, according to parish archivist Jane Bowen in her article about the church’s history, despite extensive renovations in the 19th century. The church is part of Horsham Team Parish consisting of five churches and belongs to the Diocese of Chichester.
• Wabi in Horsham - restaurant review - Convert a pub building in a small Sussex market town to a modern Japanese restaurant? It sounds like madness but it’s anything but, as Alice Cooke found out when she visited Wabi in Horsham