Horsham! Does that name ring any bells? We invite you to explore a town whose name is believed to have derived from the phrase “horse home”. This is the first hint we are giving you about this small city which is located in West Sussex in England. It is a historical town, so if you have a passion for stories from the good old days, then you have to brace for some good ancient narrative about Horsham.
Another clue about Horsham is that it is a market town. Shopaholics will indeed find it a perfect destination for a weekend break. This town is also about vacationing and sightseeing, and that’s a third fact that you might find interesting about it.
In this article, we will wrap it all up for you so that you can plan an unforgettable trip to Horsham. This handy guide will help you enjoy your holiday in Horsham to the fullest. You will check all the boxes; that’s guaranteed. But first, here are some historical facts about this town!
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How Historical Is Horsham?
However, the first reference to Horsham was made in King Eadred’s land charter in 947 AD. Back then, it was named Horse Home, and that was for a good reason since it was there where horse trading occurred in the medieval era. It was then that Horsham developed as a market town.
In 1239, Horsham was granted authorisation by King Henry III to hold a weekly market, which further thrived during the Tudor and Stuart Periods and later became a commercial centre.
Fun fact: Catherine Howard (1523-1542), the fifth wife of Henry VIII, lived in Horsham. Now, we know why the city has a claim to royalty. Another fun fact: Queen Elizabeth II (1926-2022) visited the town two times: once in 1978 and then in 2003.
Indeed, the history of Horsham is full of development, growth and transformation over many centuries. There are many ancient details about such a small city that make it quite a historical place to visit.
Which Historical Sites to Visit in Horsham?
Are you a history buff? If you define your itinerary by archaeological sites, you will find a couple of exciting places to visit in Horsham and explore the town’s rich heritage.
Visit St. Mary’s Church
Welcome to the oldest existing building in town, St. Mary’s Church. Dating back to the 13th century, St. Mary’s Church is such an impressive medieval parish church that stands as a symbol of architectural brilliance.
Boasting a combination of architectural styles, St. Mary’s Church is seen as a cultural and historical treasure that attracts visitors from near and far to explore its robust Norman square tower and its beautiful spire that is adorned with intricate stonework.
The interior of St. Mary’s Church is also something to behold, featuring a stunning nave with pointed Gothic arches, a magnificent stained-glass window and a sophisticatedly carved wooden altar. All such details make St. Mary’s Church a must-visit.
Visit Horsham Museum & Art Gallery
Located in the picturesque Causeway, the Horsham Museum and Art Gallery offers a glimpse into the town’s past. It houses a diverse collection of artefacts, artworks, and exhibits that tell the story of Horsham’s development from its agricultural roots to its modern-day character.
Entrance to Horsham Museum and Art Gallery is free. It hosts several galleries, such as the art gallery, medieval gallery, craft gallery, and ethnography gallery. The museum also hosts a self-guided heritage trail for visitors to learn about changes in the town. This museum is undoubtedly worth a visit.
Horsham: Such a Market & Such a Town!
A weekend visit to Horsham is highly recommended if you want to attend the market, which is held from Thursdays through Saturdays at the Carfax, the central hub of the town.
The market opens from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., and it boasts many stalls that usually sell local produce, street food, craft items and flowers.
Several streets converge at the Carfax, adorned with a beautiful memorial fountain and surrounded by shops, cafes, and restaurants. It’s a great place to go shopping and soak in the local atmosphere of the town.
If you are a good shopper, you will certainly like it down Swan Walk, which is full of high-end shops, such as Marks & Spencer, Accessorize, Boots, The Body Shop, Fat Face and Thorntons. Besides that, the town centre features high-street brands, gift shops and independent boutiques. You will find your craving!
Parks, Gardens & Wildlife
Horsham is crammed with green landscapes that offer unique walks in the middle of natural beauty, lakes and woodlands. We know that tours around parks are more or less the same, but the experience in this town is unrepeatable. Read on for further insight into Horsham’s green life.
A Stroll around Horsham Park
This spacious and well-maintained park is in the heart of the town and features lush green lawns, a duck pond, a boating lake, a café, and a bandstand. Horsham Park is your ideal spot for picnicking and strolling. It is so peaceful that you can simply unwind in such a serene environment.
Travelling as a family, your little ones will have a blast at the play area for children. They might also find the park’s maze very challenging and competitive. Your kids will definitely like it at Horsham Park.
Athletes will love to hear about the outdoor gym equipment for perfect workouts at Horsham Park. There are also tennis courts that offer a good chance for visitors to kick the ball. At Horsham Park, there is something to enjoy for everyone.
Visit Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens
Just a short drive from Horsham Park, Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens is a botanical wonderland. This historical garden features an array of exotic plants, lakes, and woodlands. It’s particularly famous for its stunning displays of rhododendrons, azaleas, and camellias in the spring.
Home to wallabies, Leonardslee is a Grade I listed garden with many footpaths for an exciting woodland walk. It also hosts a stunning sculpture exhibition and a fantastic Doll’s House exhibition. Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens has a Michelin-star restaurant for visitors to grab a bite while on the go.
Go on a Knepp Safari
The adventure is not over yet! Head south to the Knepp Estate for an unparalleled walking experience, where you can also see ponies and wild pigs.
Stretching over 3,500 acres, the Knepp Estate is home to an impressive castle that served as the family home of the Burrells, who owned the territory for more than 220 years.
The Knepp Estate is the go-to place for an unforgettable safari experience, whether at dusk or dawn. There are huts, yurts, bell tents and treehouses for visitors to stay in and enjoy nature.
Get Up Close with Raptors at the Huxley’s Birds of Prey Centre
Dare to meet birds of prey? You can! Stop by the Huxley’s Bird of Prey Centre on the outskirts of the town. This is a bird-of-prey sanctuary where you can experience close encounters with owls, eagles, falcons, hawks, ravens and kookaburras.
Established by the Huxley family, this centre is dedicated to the conservation, rehabilitation, and public awareness of birds of prey. It offers a range of interactive and informative exhibits that teach visitors about the various species of birds of prey, their habitats, behaviours, and the critical role they play in our ecosystem.
Huxley’s Birds of Prey Centre hosts thrilling flying displays that showcase the birds’ incredible aerial skills. It is surely a captivating and educational destination for bird enthusiasts and nature lovers.
Visit Warnham Local Nature Reserve
Nature enthusiasts will find what they are looking for at the Warnham Local Nature Reserve. Extending over 92 acres, the Warnham Local Nature Reserve is home to diverse wildlife.
The reserve includes 17 acres of millpond, woodlands, boardwalks, and grassland. You have plenty of wildlife to explore, including Grey Herons, woodpeckers and Kingfisher. A Visitor Centre can be found in the reserve, as well as a café serving drinks and snacks to guests. A day out at Warnham Local Nature Reserve will be a day to remember.
Activities to Do in Horsham
You might want to try several activities during your visit to Horsham. Well, this is part of the fun that would make your trip to this town even more exciting.
Roller skating is one thing to do. Grab your skates and helmet and head to the Rec Rink, which is relatively new in the town. The rink is open from Wednesday through Sunday. Don’t miss this chance to glide!
You can also visit the Horsham Golf and take a swing at its heated and floodlit driving range or play on any of its virtual golf courses. Do not hesitate to take this challenge.
How about a swim in a leisure pool? That sounds really nice! Just wear your swimming suit and head to the Pavilions in the Park, which features indoor and outdoor pools, including a 25-metre-long pool for lengthy strokes.
Horsham: A Perfect Vacation Venue
Horsham is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered by travellers seeking a perfect vacation destination. With its historical charm and natural beauty, the town offers a well-rounded and enjoyable escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. So, whether you’re looking for a peaceful retreat or an enriching adventure, Horsham has all the ingredients for your perfect vacation.