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Why Horsham is one of the best places to live in the UK

Base of dragon's teeth war defences in The Causeway (C) Andrew Hasson
Base of dragon's teeth war defences in The Causeway (C) Andrew Hasson

From humble beginnings as a crossroads in the middle of Sussex, Horsham has grown to be named one of the best places in the UK for quality of life.

Great British Life: Base of dragon's teeth war defences in The Causeway (C) Andrew HassonBase of dragon's teeth war defences in The Causeway (C) Andrew Hasson THE CAUSEWAY
One of our county’s most well-known roads is The Causeway, which leads from the old Town Hall to Horsham’s oldest building, St Mary’s Church. Apart from the obvious modern additions like tarmac, and yellow lines, it remains almost exactly as it has for many years. Built during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, the street is lined with London plane trees.

 

Great British Life: Collyer's School (C) Andrew HassonCollyer's School (C) Andrew Hasson COLLIER’S SIXTH FORM COLLEGE
Although the iconic building in Hurst Road that houses Collyer’s Sixth Form College is not the original, it still seems incredible that the school was founded during the reign of Henry VIII in 1532, as evidenced by this carved stone sign above the old main entrance.

 

Great British Life: The former Horsham Union Workhouse (C) Andrew HassonThe former Horsham Union Workhouse (C) Andrew Hasson CRAWLEY ROAD
Now a residential complex, this building on Crawley Road was built in 1839 as the Horsham Union Workhouse, a purpose it served for exactly 100 years, after which it operated as a hospital for Canadian soldiers injured during the war.

 

Great British Life: Bill's Restaurant in the Old Town Hall, Horsham. Andrew HassonBill's Restaurant in the Old Town Hall, Horsham. Andrew Hasson BILL’S RESTAURANT
The extraordinary former Town Hall is now used as a branch of the restaurant chain, Bill’s, but the building itself has a very colourful history. There was once a building called The Market House here on the site, but the structure that we now see was mostly completed in 1721. Downstairs was used as a food market, while upstairs was a courthouse, a function it served until new law courts were opened in Hurst Road in 1974. It was here that the initial stages of the trial of John Haigh, the famous acid bath murderer, who battered to death or shot six people before disposing of their bodies using sulphuric acid, took place.

 

Great British Life: St Mary's Church on The Causeway, Horsham (C) Andrew HassonSt Mary's Church on The Causeway, Horsham (C) Andrew Hasson ST MARY’S CHURCH
Established in 1247, the Parish Church of St Mary’s is the oldest building in Horsham. It has, of course, had things added over the centuries, but it remains substantially the same structure as it was almost 800 years ago.

Great British Life: Statue of William Pirie (C) Andrew HassonStatue of William Pirie (C) Andrew Hasson PIRIE’S PLACE
Pirie’s Place is named after William Pirie, the Headmaster of Collyer’s School from 1822 to 1868. He had built more than a dozen cottages that stood on this site before it was redeveloped as a shopping square. He was well-known in the town for travelling around in a cart pulled by a donkey, hence this bronze statue.

 

Great British Life: Bandstand in The Carfax. (C) Andrew HassonBandstand in The Carfax. (C) Andrew Hasson CARFAX
The Carfax is the centre around which Horsham has built itself. That is not really a surprise, given that the word Carfax is thought to have derived from the French word carrefour, meaning crossroads. Right in the middle is the bandstand, built with public money in 1892.

 

Great British Life: Pavement information stone in East Street, Horsham (C) Andrew HassonPavement information stone in East Street, Horsham (C) Andrew Hasson EAST STREET
In East Street, marker stones have been inlaid into the pavement with interesting little facts about the town for those with the time to read them.

 

Great British Life: The former Police station in Barttelot Road, Horsham (C) Andrew HassonThe former Police station in Barttelot Road, Horsham (C) Andrew Hasson PEEL HOUSE
It looks like an ordinary street in town, but this was once the police station before that was moved to Hurst Road in the 1970s. Peel House was the West Sussex Police Headquarters between 1894 and 1973. Now, it has been made into 14 apartments with an interesting history. Perhaps the most famous resident of the old cells was John Haigh, the acid bath murderer of Crawley. The road itself is named after Sir Walter Balfour Barttelot, an MP in the late 19th century.

 

Great British Life: Martin Turner (C) Andrew HassonMartin Turner (C) Andrew Hasson MARTIN TURNER
This is my home town. I was brought up here until I was about 18. I’ve lived in London and abroad and only came back here when I retired. What’s great about Horsham is that, although it’s changed a lot over the years, it still retains that old market town atmosphere. For example, take The Capitol Theatre. I remember when it was on London Road, but they have called the new one the same thing, so you still get that link to the past. Transport-wise for me, it’s perfect. I have a car, but I don’t use it very much. I use the buses, and Horsham is like the centre of a web. You can go to Crawley, Dorking, Guildford, Worthing and Brighton. We also have the train and it’s only an hour to London, and just 20 minutes to Gatwick Airport.’



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