Horsham is, at heart, a traditional English market town. West Sussex is a relatively rural county in southern England, and Horsham provided a focus for people to gather and trade in times gone by.
Horsham has grown significantly because it is a commutable distance from London and Gatwick Airport, and still has the benefits of the countryside.
Horsham is the site for Novartis, the UK affiliate of the Swiss-based company Novartis AG. The R&D here focuses on Metabolic disorders, GI tract diseases and such.
Horsham has been one of the main headquarters for the international firm Royal & SunAlliance which still opens and operates in some of the town's largest buildings.
Traditionally not known for its open mindedness (The film Monty Python's Life of Brian was banned here upon its release, and Horsham was one of the last places in England someone faced the death penalty for homosexuality). Despite this the town does show some signs of moving forward despite being a little 'backward' compared to London or Brighton, perhaps due to the older demographic. Horsham is also one of the last places on Earth to still display its stocks in the town centre.
The closest airport to Horsham is London Gatwick (LGW IATA) which is only 20 minutes by car or train (the station is right in the airport). London Heathrow (LHR IATA) is about an hour by car (depending on traffic) or two and a half hours by train via London - change at Hammersmith and London Victoria. London Stansted (STN IATA) is about an hour and a half by car (depending on traffic) or 2½ hours by train - change at Tottenham Hale and London Victoria.
Horsham can be reached easily by train. There are four trains per hour from London. Two trains from London Victoria via Croydon and Crawley. There is an hourly service (not Sundays) from London Victoria via Sutton & Dorking and an hourly stopping service from London Bridge. There are two trains an hour from the Sussex coast; Bognor Regis and Chichester. Be aware that most coastal trains divide en route so listen carefully to the announcements.
Horsham can also be easily reached by car as it lies on the junction of three main routes. Follow the A24 from London (SW) via Dorking, the M23/A264 from London (SE) via Crawley, the A23/A281 from Brighton via Cowfold, the A24 from Worthing, the A29 from Chichester or the A281 from Guildford.
The town centre is compact and walkable. A small number of bus services are available to the residential areas. All services run via the bus station, the train station and the central square, the Carfax.
Horsham's town centre is its main charm. The town is based around a central square (that isn't square) called the Carfax (said to mean 'where four roads meet'). This is pedestrianised and often features music on the bandstand in the summer. There is also an element of European cafe culture with street cafes and alfresco bars on the square and the historic alleyways running from it. The rest of the centre is no more than five minutes walk from the Carfax.
The Causeway (Nearby, to the South). A conservation area with a real feeling of history about it. Horsham Museum is also on The Causeway. At the bottom of The Causeway is St. Marys church and the River Arun.
1 Site of the former Shelley Fountain. The has been replaced by a small grove of trees.
To the north is a large park, which has a small wildlife pond, a leisure complex with indoor/outdoor (heated) pool and a gym. There's an excellent children's playground alongside with slides and swings: it's very popular at the weekend.
3 Leonardslee Lakes & Gardens, Brighton Rd, Lower Beeding RH13 6PP, ☏ . Daily 09:00-17:00. Extensive Victorian garden restored in 2019, a blaze of colour in early summer with the azaleas and rhododendrons. Adult £13.50, child £6.50.
2 Upper Rapeland Wood (on the north-western fringes of Old Holbrook, 1.2 miles (1.94 km) north of the A264 dual carriageway). A mixed mature woodland in Old Holbrook, a hamlet close to Horsham. It lies on Rapeland Hill, opposite Northlands Copse, an area of ancient woodland and a partially managed plantation in the neighbouring hamlet of Graylands. As the area lies on a steep hill, Upper Rapeland Wood has a relatively high elevation, 350 feet above sea level. Broadleaf trees are prevalent in the moss-covered northern and southern areas of the woodland, with large pine trees and shallow ravines dominating the central areas. Notably, three channels of Northlands Gill flow through the width of Upper Rapeland Wood. The area hosts a network of tracks with varying degrees of accessibility. Although unmaintained, the tracks guide walkers in cardinal directions through the woodland.
The town's main shopping street, the pedestrian only West Street, connects the Carfax to the former Shelley Fountain square. The Swan Walk mall runs off this street.
The Post Office is in the Carfax square.
The most central full scale supermarket (Sainsbury's) is just beyond the bus station, to the south of the centre, though there are smaller 'budget stores' operating near to the Shelley Fountain and a branch of Waitrose in Piries place.
Horsham has a range of restaurants covering most of the various styles found in England, with Italian being particularly common. Most town centre restaurants are on East Street, although there are some in the Carfax and West Street.
- Smith and Western (About a mile from the centre of town). American/Tex/Mex style, which has become a definite destination for special events.
There are numerous take-away food outlets near the town centre. Most are located just to the west, in the Bishopric and Springfield Road.
- Mr Li's. A very popular Chinese restaurant, renowned locally for its food.
- Indian Tree (formerly the Nisam). Perhaps one of Horshams best restaurants, Tudor-style listed building, offers excellent cuisine while maintaining a family atmosphere.
Town Centre Pubs
Horsham has a reasonable selection of pubs in the town centre. Most are tied to the Hall and Woodhouse brewery, generally serving Badger and Tanglefoot real ales.
6 Dog & Bacon, N Parade, RH12 2QR, ☏ .
There is also the locally legendary 'Ambar', popularly known by a former name; 'Shelley's' - Horsham's first and only night club, that draws students, regulars and scum alike.
Some bars also stay open late.
- B52s, a quiet bar in Piries place with a medieval beam ceiling serving food during the day which transforms into a sweaty crush on weekend evenings.
Horsham itself has relatively few hotels, and none at the higher end of the market. Some of the villages surrounding Horsham do have quality hotels however.
1 Public Toilets Piries Place, Piries Place, RH12 1NY (ground floor of multi-storey car park).
There are many possible day trips from Horsham, here are some suggestions:
- Leith Hill and the Surrey Hills, 20 minutes north-northwest via the A24 and B2126, one of the most beautiful stretches of the North Downs, with the highest point in south east England. There is a lot of good mountain biking to be found here.
- Leonardslee Gardens, Lower Beeding, via the A281
- Wakehurst Place, 25 minutes east at Ardingly on the B2028, a nationally important garden maintained by Kew
- Petworth House, 30 minutes southwest at Petworth, a large country house set in acres of parkland
|Routes through Horsham|
|London ← Dorking ←||N S||→ South Downs National Park → Worthing|