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MARKET TOWNS OF SUSSEX (from SDUK Penny Cyclopedia)

Horsham in 1842

Horsham, a parliamentary borough and market-town, in the rape of Bramber, is situated on the Forest Ridge, near the borders of the county of Surrey, at a distance of 35 miles south-south-west from London. The area of the parish is one of the largest in the county, comprising 8,500 acres, exclusive of the portion on which the town itself is built. The name is evidently taken from hurst, Saxon, a wood, and ham, a town, although some have derived it from Horsa, brother of Hengist. who was killed in 457, and said to have been buried in the vicinity of the town.

The town consists of two streets crossing. each other at right angles, with an open space in the centre, in which stands the court-house, a handsome stone building, enlarged by the duke of Norfolk in 1799, for the judges of assizes, who held the spring assize here from that period till 1830 : the Midsummer quarter-sessions for West Sussex are still held in this hall.

In this town also is the county gaol, rebuilt on the plan of Howard in 1775. Each prisoner was to have a separate cell, and the debtors and felons were to be kept separate, with a day-room on each floor, and a chapel and an infirmary. Here was attempted the earliest of the improvements in prison discipline, and here separate confinement was first systematically resorted to with the most beneficial effects. Since the great improvement in the House of Correction at Petworth, there have been few committals to Horsham gaol, and it is now chiefly used for debtors and for persons convicted.

A corn-market, well attended, is held on Saturdays. Horsham is a borough by prescription, and returned two members from the 23rd Edward I, till the passing of a 2 William IV, c.45, when the borough found a place in Schedule B, and has since returned one member. The old right was in the owners of some twenty-five burgage tenements ; the whole parish, is now included : the number of voters in 1832 did not exceed 257 ; but the number increased in 1839-40 to 345 occupiers of £10 houses and six burgage tenants.

The church, dedicated to St. Mary, is a spacious and elegant building, with a lofty tower surmounted by a spire, in the early English style of architecture. The benefice is a vicarage, in the archdeaconry of Chichester and deanery of Storrington, of the annual net value, in 1835, of £651.

The population in 1831 was 5,105. There is a school for 60 children of poor people, to be taught reading, writing, and arithmetic, and, at the discretion of the school-wardens, the Latin language, founded by Richard Collier in 1532, with a good school-house and dwellings for a master and usher. There is also a Lancasterian school for 200 boys and 100 girls, and an infant-school supported by voluntary contributions.