Jam-packed with culture and history it’s no wonder this pretty market town constantly tops the list of the best places to live in the country, let alone the county.

It’s not often a town has wallabies and a Willoughby – the daytime TV presenter Holly – but then Horsham isn’t your average Sussex place to live.

Bijou, with incredible transport links – it’s just 60 minutes to London – and jam-packed with culture and history, it’s no wonder everyone wants to move here.

Constantly topping the best places to live in the country polls and surveys, Horsham is a teeny market town with plenty to offer. The charming town centre boasts buildings dating back to the 13th century, the crime rate is practically non-existent, houses are affordable, there’s a plethora of fantastic schools and it’s chocolate box pretty to boot.

No wonder then that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle made it the home of the fictional Openshaw family in one of his shorter Sherlock Holmes stories, The Five Orange Pips.

With great views of the rolling South Downs, and practically on the doorstep of Brighton and Gatwick Airport, it’s not surprising that seemingly half of London have – or want – to move here. It has everything the capital has to offer albeit on a smaller scale, with The Capitol theatre, an abundance of independent shops and a thriving culinary scene. Plus there’s all that fresh Sussex air.

And where else, except Down Under, can you see wallabies wandering free like they do at Leonardslee House and Gardens, where you can watch the brush-kangaroos while sipping champagne and eating dainty sandwiches and cakes at a very genteel afternoon tea.


Horsham has had its fair share of celebrity residents throughout the ages. The fifth of Henry VIII’s eight wives Catherine Howard lived in Horsham and romantic poet Percy Byshhe Shelley was born near here in Field Place, Warnham. There used to be a fountain commemorating him in the town centre until 2006 when it was taken down as it cost too much to run.

Daytime TV star Holly Willoughby went to sixth form at The College of Richard Collyer on Hurst Road as did actor/comedian Harry Enfield. The man behind Doctor Who’s iconic Daleks, Raymond Cusick, lived in Horsham as did the former principal of King’s College London, Hugh James Rose.


When it comes to schools, Horsham is home to one of the country’s most iconic establishments: Christ’s Hospital. Known for its distinctive uniform of a long blue coat, belted at the waist, knee breeches and yellow socks is virtually unchanged since Tudor times. (see more on the history of this school and the important anniversary it is celebrating this year on page XX).

Farlington is an independent day and boarding school for boys and girls aged four to 18 with a nursery, Little Farlington, for babies, toddlers and young children aged from six months to four years opening in September. It will be located on school grounds and will be open 51 weeks per year.

Parens can also choose Pennthorpe School, a dynamic prep school for girls and boys aged two to 13 where the happiness of the children takes precedence and as the head teacher Chris Murray says: ‘dedication to every child’s confidence and success is relentless.’


If it’s the High Street stores you’re after, the Swan Walk Shopping Centre has all the biggest names while there’s plenty of boutiques, independent stores and markets to keep even the most discerning shopper happy.

From the finest jewellery at Wakefields, an independent family-run jewellers that sells watches including Rolex, to Jones & Tomlin, a premium bed and bedding store and Malvern Garden Buildings at Hillier Garden Centre, there’s an array of choice. And if it’s a bargain or something very unusual you’re after head to Denhams Auctioneers to try your luck with a bid or two.


As well as Nandos and all the big name favourites, Horsham has a handful of fine eateries and country pubs that make up the thriving culinary scene.

The Crown Inn, is a dog-friendly pub with a fine dining menu and ethos in the nearby village of Dial Post where you can sip ale while indulging in an exquisite four course meal (see page XX for some of their summer recipes.)

South Lodge Hotel and Spa has something for everyone at their three restaurants ranging from the casual Mediterranean spa eaterie, Botanica through to the Michelin starred experiential dining at Ben Wilkinson at The Pass.

And if it’s golf and grape you’re after look no further than Mannings Heath Estate where The Vineyard Restaurant offers ‘a taste of Sussex’ where dishes using local, seasonal produce are paired with wines from owner Penny Streeter’s South African estate Benguela Cove. (see page XX for more on Mannings and county wine tours.)


From ‘a visit with owls’ at Huxley’s Bird of Prey Centre and Gardens to learning about the town’s history at the Horsham Museum on the Causeway or watching a stage show, or film at The Capitol Theatre, there is always something to do here.

Take a stroll along the town’s waterways on a Horsham Riverside Walk, or venture out into the countryside to explore Knepp Castle.

Pop into the museum over the summer where Horsham District Council are hosting late night talks, music and wine events.

There are festivals galore and events such as Armed Forces Day celebrations on Sunday 25 July along with Food Rocks, a Children’s Parade through the centre which finishes at the Sunday Funday in the park run by the local Rotary club.

The Capitol has a packed programme throughout the summer including Dragons & Mythical Beasts on 26-27 July and a six-day Musical Theatre Workshop for children and teens aged 12-16 starting 21 August run by London actor Jonathan Carlton who played Prince Charming in last year’s Cinderella pantomime (£250 per child).


The perfect blend of historic and modern, quiet but with plenty to do and on the doorstep of the South Downs with its rolling hills and verdant open spaces, Horsham is constantly named one of the best places to live in the country. Safe, stylish and with some of the best schools the county has to offer, it’s ideal for families as well as those who appreciate culture.

And while it tops most people’s wish list, Horsham is still affordable. The average property price in the town was £462,801 last year, according to Right Move. The majority of sales over that period were semi-detached properties, selling for an average price of £494,530. Terraced properties sold for an average of £391,777, with flats fetching £238,860. Overall prices in Horsham were 11 per cent up on the previous year.



Forget flying thousands of miles to Australia – you can see wallabies at Leonardslee House and Gardens. The Grade 1 listed estate is home to these brush-kangaroos. There’s even a special enclosure for breeding pairs but between 12 noon you can feed the wallabies and get up close to the little Joeys.

Afterwards, take in the art gallery, go for afternoon tea and now you can even stay over at the grade II listed 19th century Italianate style house in one of the 10 guest bedrooms. leonardsleegardens.co.uk

Must do

Visit Horsham Museum to learn more about romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley’s early life in Horsham and visit the newly refurbished display about his work until his death in Italy at the age of 29/ horshammuseum.org