Is Historic Horsham The Best Place to Live in Sussex?

Living in Horsham

Horsham dates back to the Middle Ages and has more history and quirky characteristics than you could shake a stick at. But it also has everything you could desire for 21st century living!

This pretty market town has a beautiful Victorian bandstand and market square called the Carfax, a Grade II listed town hall, and the picturesque and tree-lined Causeway. Snaking between an array of beautiful period buildings which include everything from Tudor to Art Deco, you’ll find narrow alleys known as twittens and hidden courtyards.

Horsham Bandstand

A few quirky facts

Horsham has a long brewing history that dates back to 1800. King and Barnes, perhaps its most famous brewery, finally closed in 2000 but the town’s brewing heritage continues with local breweries like Firebird Brewery in Rudgwick and Hepworth’s Brewery run by the former head brewer at King and Barnes. Both are worth a visit for craft beer connoisseurs!

Horsham also has the unenviable reputation for being the place of the last execution by pressing and the last execution for homosexuality. More positively, Michael Caine started his acting career at the Westminster Repertory in Horsham, and the town also inspired Harry Enfield!

Beer Britain Day

Living the dream

If it’s green space you crave, you can stretch your legs in the centrally located park and feed the ducks, grab your binoculars and head to Warnham Nature Reserve just on the edge of the town (to spot one of their kingfishers), walk a section of the riverside walk, or grab your bike and explore St. Leonard’s Forest. 

Horsham

The forest is part of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and has 714 acres of walking, cycling and horse riding … and a whole heap of legends and folklore! Just ask the locals about the dragon, the hermit and the mysterious Indian princess. And for more local history, look no further than nearby Knepp Castle and its estate, which is also home to wildlife safaris.

Knepp Castle and Estate

Both the North and South Downs are only a short drive from Horsham and open up a wealth of opportunities for walking, biking, and discovering some of the best views in the south east, while Leechpool Woods is a 53-acre site of ancient woodland right on the edge of the town that has five signposted walking trails and includes a sculpture trail.

The South Downs Way

Getting social

As for the night owls amongst you, Horsham may not have a nightclub anymore, but they do have two cinemas including an Everyman with a roof terrace overlooking Piries Place. You can also enjoy an ever-changing programme of live music and comedy at The REC Rooms and the town has an abundance of pubs, bars, restaurants, and cafés.

In the summer months, Horsham Festival hosts a number of eclectic events including music, dance, drama and the visual arts, and the town even has its own annual Beer Festival. It’s also fast becoming the epicentre for Sussex wine with a number of vineyards in the surrounding area including Kinsbrook Vineyard, House Coren and Villa Elena.

Sussex sparkling wine

For a night out, you can Sit and Sip gin at the Sit and Sip, slurp up noodles at Wagamama’s, or go for some posh nosh at The Chequers at Rowhook or Interlude at Leonardslee. While for good coffee, you’re spoilt for choice with everything from Swedish and Italian coffee shops and the eclectic Kaya in the Park with its beautifully decorated and slightly bohemian conservatory.

The shops are open

If it’s shopping you’re after, Horsham also has a whole heap of independent shops and a weekly market in the square which includes a regular vegan market. Head to La Vida for fashion, Sakakini’s for diamonds and jewellery or to the new Love It Again shop for retro and pre-loved.

Horsham market

The school run

The town does pretty well when it comes to private schools too. Farlington School and Christ’s Hospital are both just on the outskirts of town and are co-ed, and it’s not too far from Cranleigh School either. For prep schools, there is nearby Penthorpe School, Cottesmore Preparatory School and Handcross Park.

Private schools from the wider area also provide minibus services from various pick-up points.  There are four state secondary schools serving the town one of which is only a couple of years old and just moving into state-of-the-art new premises.

Christ's Hospital School Horsham

Do something different

Unusual things to do in Horsham include a visit to Huxley’s Birds of Prey Centre or an afternoon spent at Horsham Museum which is packed to the rafters with curiosities. At nearby Leonardslee Gardens they also have a year-round programme of events which includes their stunning Christmas illuminations (imagine a giant moon suspended over a lake in the darkness and reflected in the water) and their Enchanted Woodland Trail in the summer which features mermaids, faeries, mythical creatures and a touch of magic!

Horsham Museum, West Sussex

Spoil yourself

For a dash of self-care (and who doesn’t need that) try a luxurious tea at nearby South Lodge or a wellbeing membership at Warnham’s Yogida Yoga and Pilates studio. Or, depending on your definition of self-care, you could head into the Carfax for wine tasting at The Horsham Cellar accompanied by a platter of Italian meat and cheese from the nearby delicatessen, before heading to Beauty Secrets for a relaxing treatment. Their rooms are rather sumptuous.

Horsham cafes

Home is where the heart is

With a great mix of old and new, you may be wondering whether Horsham is a good place to put down roots, and the good news is, you’ve got lots of choice when it comes to places to live and house styles. The suburbs surrounding the main town nearly all have their own pub and primary school, such as bustling Holbrook, a modern suburb that also has a parade of shops, a post office, a café, a beauty salon, a doctor’s surgery, and a fitness centre. Whereas the Causeway has some of the most beautiful old houses in the county in a quiet road that is just steps from the town centre.

Horsham Causeway

There are also a couple of really attractive new developments on the edge of Horsham, like Highwood Village. This is a quiet and secluded development that is still within walking distance of the local school and large Tesco store and has housing from one-bedroom starter apartments to spacious 5-bedroom homes.

Horsham West Sussex

And if you want all the advantages of a great local town but some of the perks of village life and community spirit, there are also a number of pretty local villages nearby like Warnham, Slinfold and Rusper which all have bus services back into town. There you’ve got a choice of some older, period homes or smart, modern housing. Take your pick.

Historic Horsham

Getting here and there

From Horsham, you can hop on a train to London, East Croydon, Gatwick or the coast and apart from the main station, there are two other smaller stations, namely Littlehaven and Christ’s Hospital. You’re also not far from the A23 which takes you directly to the M25 as well as the A281 to Guildford, the A272 which stretches all the way across the county, and the A24 to Dorking and the coast. So friends and family have no reason not to visit.

Community spirit

And how do the locals feel about Horsham life? Well, they have a number of community Facebook groups and pages so that you can keep up with what’s going on and find out what it’s like to live in this great little market town.

The Chequers at Rowhook

So why wouldn’t you want to move to Horsham?

 The average rental cost of a property is £1,703 (Spring 2022) and there are also limited properties available to rent

  • The cost of commuting to London is £140 / week plus parking (an extra £30)
  • It only has a small hospital and for serious emergencies, you have to travel to Redhill, Guildford or Brighton

Brighton

And why would you move to Horsham?

  • You can be in London in 52 mins!
  • The town is an entrepreneurial hub and there’s a great small businesses community
  • It’s strong on sport with its own cricket ground, football and rugby clubs, and a successful swimming club, Atlantis.

Anton smit Sculpture Leonardslee

So, is Horsham the best place to live in Sussex? Well, come and have a look around and decide for yourself.

If you like this post about Historic Horsham or if you are thinking of moving to Sussex, you may also like:

Why Move to Brighton?

Thinking of Moving to Petworth?

The 20 Best Places to Live in Sussex

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