Why Is Horsham Called Horsham?

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Updated: June 24, 2015
Horse in Horsham

Picture the sound of clicking hooves and the whinny of horses, the blowing of soft winds and the chinking of time-forgotten coins, Horse Ham, as it was known then, was a place where horses were bred and sold many years ago. First noted in King Eadred’s land charter of 947 AD, it is unclear when ‘Horse Ham’ became ‘Horsham’, but the former Anglo-Saxon village represents one of the rare cases where a place name has remained largely unchanged since its inception.

Another theory suggests that the name ‘Horsham’ originally derived from ‘Horsa’s Ham’, Horsa being the name of a successful Anglo-Saxon warrior and Ham being the Saxon’s word for Village. However, Horsham’s prime trade location between London and the coast, and the fact Horsham was provided with royal licence in the 1200s to hold an annual market suggests humble beginnings as a horse dealership is more likely, although there’s no reason why both can’t be true!

By the 1200s Horsham could be defined as a small town and from this point grew into a bustling marketplace, to where people from all over Sussex and Surrey would come to trade their valuable, and not so valuable, goods. The Middle Ages even saw Horsham Castle built under the ownership of the powerful de Braoss family at the time, the earthy remains of which can still be seen at Chennels Brook.

Horsham remained mainly a market town for much of its history until the 20th Century, albeit with a slight dalliance in iron works, but by this time a rich brewery tradition was taking hold among the locals. Brewery companies had settled in Horsham and a few still operate within the area. Of course Horsham Town is part of a much larger district of the same name, but forever has Horsham been at the centre of this thriving community – the town continuing to grow past 55,000 residents, with a few horses still around too.

Ever wondered why Crawley is called Crawley? Replace horses with crows and you’re some of the to finding out why.