Thank you to guest poster Shakaz
Historically, Persia has flourished in the industry of carpet making with the largest production centres being Tabriz (between 1500 and 1550), Kashan (between 1525 and 1650), Herat (between 1525 and 1650) and Kerman (between 1600 and 1650). The Persian rug is perhaps the greatest cultural contribution by the Persian people to the world of art. These rugs are woven in Persia which is the modern day Iran.
Persian rugs represent some of the finest textile products that have been ever produced. Each piece represents beauty and uniqueness due to the complex nature of the art involved as well as the quality of the materials used. Oriental rugs on the other hand represent those rugs that have been created elsewhere in Asia. The production region for oriental rugs ranges from Cyprus to East Asia (China, Turkey and Vietnam). It also includes India in the South and Caucasus in the North.
Persian Rugs are or were made by skilled artisans in Iran using a single looping knot. The Turkish people also make Turkish rugs, but in their case they use a double looping knot. These rugs are mostly made from wool. The most common wool types used are Kork wool, camel hair wool and Manchester wool. Consider yourself lucky if you get a silk Persian rug. In fact, take good care of it as they are quite rare.
Many new rugs today are made from silk blends, synthetic fibres and mercerized cotton. So that you don't confuse these other rugs with the Persian rug, you should locate the label at the back to ensure it is made in Iran. These rugs are made using specific design layouts that have lasted many generations. The four typical patterns include the allover layout, the one sided layout, the compartment layout and the centered medallion. They also come with a motif which has a meaning or relates to the region it was made.
Rugs made from other parts of Asia exclcuding Iran are referred to as oriental rugs. Authentic oriental rugs are usually hand knotted. You should be able to differentiate them from the hand tufted rugs made in Middle Eastern countries. The difference between the two is that the hand knotted rugs are much prettier than the hand tufted ones. The design of the hand tufted rug is placed on a canvas with the worker filling in the patterns using a hand operated gun. This gun tool pushes the strands of wool right into the canvas. The canvas is then glued with a backing at the back to ensure it doesn't come apart.
Making a single piece Persian or oriental rug can take months or even years depending on the size and quality of the rug. The finer the rug, the more the KPSI it contains and hence the longer it will take to create. In most cases, many people will work together on the same rug side by side. This is one of the reason these rugs come with a very deep appeal and quality that is unrivalled. When planning to acquire either a Persian rug or oriental rug, it's wise to know the features to look out for so that you get value for your money. These products are of higher value and quality when compared to other rugs.
Situated in the top right-hand corner of West Sussex lies East Grinstead. The name means Green Place and this ancient town is close to the East Sussex border.
It evolved from a Saxon village, can be found in the Domesday Book, and by the 13th century the village had grown substantially until it was granted its town charter in 1247. From that date a weekly market was conferred and East Grinstead was allowed a yearly fair. Within the next 300 years, visitors and traders were flocking from far and wide to attend the two fairs that were now held annually.
The population of East Grinstead grew over the years from a few hundred during Medieval times to 1,500 by early in the 18th century. The town had an MP from the 14th century until 1832. By 1800 the population had almost doubled to 2,700 and thereafter the area continued expanding until there were over 6,000 residents by 1900. Today there are about 25,000 residents in the town.
The early growth of East Grinstead came about because it was situated on the main road from London to Lewes. Now in East Sussex, the county was just Sussex in those days and Lewes was the county town. Stage coaches stopped off in East Grinstead and disembarked their passengers at the local inns. This allowed the town to become prosperous and attracted new residents.
During the 19th century the railway arrived in East Grinstead and that drew new residents who wanted to work in London yet still live in the beautiful Sussex countryside. Today the town is still very much in the commuter belt.
Later in the 19th century, East Grinstead adopted modern conveniences that we now take for granted. Piped water and sewers arrived and the installation of gas lights must have been another big step forward.
In 1913 a cinema was built in the town centre and brought much excitement. Sadly, during the second World War the cinema was bombed, killing 108 people.
There are many ancient buildings in East Grinstead, not least in the High Street. It’s renowned for its timber-framed 14th century buildings amongst other historically noteworthy houses and St Swithun’s Church where John Mason Neale is buried.
East Court Mansion is an important local historic house, set in beautiful parkland. The house was built in the 18th century and is Grade II listed. It is now home to the East Grinstead Town Council, having been restored by them in the 1980s, and is a popular wedding venue. The Greenwich Meridian runs through the grounds.
The famous Guinea Pig club began at the East Grinstead Victoria Hospital. Set up to offer support to burns victims, the club enrolled aircrew who were treated by plastic surgeons at the famous hospital unit. It was here that many plastic surgery procedures were perfected.
It’s ironic that the railway brought such prosperity to East Grinstead, because one of its famous residents was a certain Dr Beeching. One of the victims of his cuts was the line between Three Bridges and Tunbridge Wells in the 1960s, meaning that East Grinstead became a railway terminus, which it remains to this day.
It's that time again. Is the sun is shining into your home, showing off your dirty windows and lurking cobwebs? Here are some ideas that might make things easier.
Spring cleaning is a revered rite of home ownership. However, for some people, spring cleaning conjures mental images of housewives in aprons scrubbing every nook and cranny with a toothbrush. While this deep cleaning has always been an arduous task, modern homes are a lot larger and have many more appliances than traditional homes. Therefore, as a proud home owner, you have to employ a few smart tactics to make spring cleaning a breeze. The following are some tips to follow to leave your house gleaming without making the process a drag.
Choose an approach
Depending on the amount of time and energy you have, you can choose an approach to take when spring cleaning. If you have a lot of time on your hands, you can create a specific block of time to clean your entire home. This could be a weekend or an entire week. This approach is beneficial because you can put spring cleaning behind you within a short amount of time. However, it can be straining, and you may be too tired to finish it!
The second approach is ideal for people who do not have enough time to clean. If you are in this category, you can break the process into smaller steps to be completed within a longer period of time. You can schedule different tasks for different weekends with the purpose of completing the entire project within a month or two. This process is more manageable, but you shouldn't stretch your cleaning schedule too much. It isn't spring cleaning if it takes you six or more months to do it.
Decide which areas you want to outsource and book appointments. For example you may want to call in a professional carpet cleaner to ensure your carpets and upholstery get the best attention.
Make a list and gather supplies
Create a list of all the things you have to do when spring cleaning, and group similar tasks. Create a schedule based on the available tasks to make it easier to transition from one cleaning job to another. With your list in hand, gather all the supplies you need to complete the various tasks. Plan in advance and purchase any supplies you do not have at home. If you do not like using chemicals to clean you house, you can spend time making simple and natural household cleaners using ingredients such as baking soda and vinegar.
Enlist help from family
Spring cleaning is more fun when more people are involved. If you have a partner or children, assemble a team and assign tasks to each individual family member. If you live alone, you could ask some of your friends to help.
When you have too much to do, you may find yourself jumping from one task to another without really completing anything. Try to avoid the temptation to do this. Instead, focus on completing one task at a time. Focusing on single tasks helps you manage your time more efficiently. When you have completed a specific task or room, tick it off your list to give you the motivation to tackle the next task.
Be realistic and take several breaks
It is important to realize that spring cleaning is no mean feat. It is going to take several days to clean your entire house properly. Ensure you have plenty of breaks and plan snacks and meals beforehand. Never skip meals, as you need the fuel when cleaning. A great tip is to make some meals on your crock pot the night before you start cleaning so that you don't have to prepare dinner the evening after you scrub your home.
Scrub to music
Make cleaning more fun by listening to your favorite playlist. An upbeat tune is ideal, as it will help you move faster. You can even use the cleaning sessions to squeeze in some exercise.
When cleaning specific rooms and appliances, it is important to start from top to bottom and from the inside to the outside. The following are some no-sweat ways to clean different areas in your home.
The bathroom can be quite grimy, and you may need a lot of elbow grease to get rid of stains here. A pumice stone can get rid of stubborn mineral deposits from your toilet. You can also mix baking soda with acidic vinegar to help you get rid of stubborn stains in your bathtub. To get rid of contaminants from grouted surface, use your usual cleaners and run a wed/dry vac to suck out all the dirt from your grout. This is also the time to get rid of old makeup and cosmetic products and restock your first aid kit and medicine cabinet.
Start by de-cluttering your kitchen to get rid of expired products and items you no longer need. Invest in a good old-fashioned microfiber cloth, which picks up dust and dirt easily. Since the kitchen is where you prepare food, consider using green and natural products as opposed to chemicals when cleaning surfaces. A mixture of baking soda and vinegar can help clean and disinfect most surfaces. Unplug your refrigerator and vacuum the coils to get rid of accumulated dirt. Do not forget to clean the dishwasher. Empty your dishwasher, pour some acidic vinegar into a cup, and place this cup on the top rack. Run a full cleaning cycle on the hottest setting. This helps keep your dishwasher free from bacteria and fungi.
Start by decluttering your closets and donating some of the clothes and shoes you no longer wear. Flip your mattress and clean your bedding and curtains. You should also wash your pillows and comforters and dust the ceiling fan. Use a lint roller to get rid of dust on fabric lamp shades. A hose attachment on your vacuum cleaner can get rid of dust particles on curtains, baseboards, and under your bed. A great way to clean your mattress is to go over it with a garment steamer to get rid of dust mites. Use your vacuum's upholstery attachment to get rid of particles and contaminants in your mattress. Sprinkle baking soda and rub it in to get rid of any funky smells before vacuuming again.
Use a clean microfiber to wipe down your ceiling fan shades, windows, mirrors, and shelves. You can also take the time to rearrange your furniture to make it easier to move around. Depending on the material of your couch, use a shampoo to clean the upholstery or consider getting it professionally cleaned.
There's no denying that spring cleaning is a lot of work. However, with the right schedule and the right tips, you can manage this process and make your home as fresh as spring.
Upgrading the look of any living room requires the selection of a good sofa or couches. Sofas and loveseats are complimentary and necessary additions to any home. Over time, loveseats have evolved into natural additions to most living rooms across the globe. It might come as a surprise to most people that the settees or loveseats were at one time innovative and new pieces of furniture. They have come a long way since that time. To me this is an interesting subject so following is a brief history of sofas, settees, armchairs, couches and even upholstery.
The terms settee and sofa are currently virtually synonymous. However, sofa is the term that is commonly used to refer to any kind of upholstered seating meant for 2 or more people. Both terms are relatively new additions to the English language as they were not very common prior to the 17th Century.
The sofa was originally used as a dais that Grand Viziers sat on. It is because of such that there are still suggested connections with daybeds and couches. This is to say that sofas were as much intended for reclining as they were for seating. On the other hand, the settee was initially designed as a double chair and was furnished with cushions. As fashion changed, they rapidly evolved until there was little difference between the two.
During the period after the 17th century, settees were not frequently upholstered. Thereafter, they were made similar to other upholstered seating. This is because they were paralleling each and every major style. Settees that are relatively narrow and necessitated closer seating are what came to be known as loveseats or courting settees. Today, the loveseat is a term that implies a type of settee that accommodates two people sitting side by side, but normally facing opposite directions.
Contrary to what most people believe, loveseats were not invented so that 2 lovebirds could comfortably sit close to one another and consequently gaze into the eyes of each other. Instead, the invention was aimed at helping women sit and arrange their fashionable gowns in a comfortable manner. This is because the dresses women wore in the 17th as well as the 18th centuries involved a significant quantity of fabric and hoops.
The loveseat’s extra wide seat was designed to accommodate one woman and her dress. Furthermore, they had armrests and high backs incorporated to them. This type of sofas was primarily designed with fashion in mind rather than comfort. The size of loveseats grew as the seating craze caught on and this saw manufacturers increase the size to accommodate 2-3 people.
Fresh ideas for living room fashion have altered the loveseat into the form it has adopted today. Despite the fact that a significant number of loveseats are still made from fabric and wood, many modern ones utilize metal instead of wood for both the legs and frame. And loveseats are available in an array of upholstery like cotton, vinyl, twill, corduroy, leather and microfibre.
The addition of upholstery has the effect of changing the look and feel of a whole room. It revolves around style and comfort. Upholstery got its beginnings early with society’s upper classes. Skills in upholstery consequently spread throughout Europe’s tradesmen and mechanization and technology allowed it to thrive. The same happened in Italy and Europe. Upholstered seats were a rare find until sometime in the 17th century when only the wealthy had access to them. The first armchair that was fully upholstered was seen in 1705, characterized by wool moreen and silk damask. Upholstery cleaning in those days must have been a delicate and difficult task.
The Age of the Designer saw upholstery being heavily integrated into the furniture making process. The steam powered engine and steel coil spring were the 2 main inventions that lead to modern style being popularised and dropping all its associations with specific groups of people. Afterwards, upholstery began to increasingly become the buyer’s choice because of the availability of different fabrics and individual shops springing up to promote variation.
Sofas and armchairs were revolutionized with the use of moulded fibre glass, moulded foam cores, plywood and bent steel. Modern designs have seen the creation of several iconic custom textiles that are still heavily used.
In conclusion, through quite a journey sofas, settees, armchairs, couches and upholstery developed over the years have become what we recognise today.
Modern beds come in different forms, shapes, and varieties, offering a far greater level of comfort than has ever been obtainable in the past.
Since the beginning of time, man has been known to look for various way to make life more comfortable for himself; and one of the most urgent of these includes getting a good place to sleep after a hard day’s work. The earliest humans are likely to have made use of a collection of grasses, or straw as beds, where they could safely lay down and sleep.
Conversely, the bed in modern day terms can be regarded as a complete furniture unit, which includes the mattress, where one can relax in comfort. As civilization and technology advanced, so did the desire to exploit a better and more suitable material to sleep on and get a good night’s sleep.
This has taken us from the era of having to sleep on grasses to that of having a huge choice of different types of beds such as sprung beds, divans, air beds, waterbeds, memory mattresses, etc.
The modern-day bed has gone through many transformations and taken thousands of years to become what it is today.
The Neolithic Period, also known as the New Stone Age period: The history of beds cannot be said to be complete without making adequate reference to what it occurred during this time. This era spans a period of 6,000 years between 9,000 B.C and 3,000 B.C. Men at this time were known to use straw, and grasses to make beddings for themselves. This offered them warm, and protection from dirt.
200 BC - 3000 B.C: During this period, in Persia, humans started using goatskins filled with water to sleep upon. In the same period Egyptians were using palm boughs for bedding in their homes.
15th Century – Mid 18th Century: A lot of innovations were made during this period. People at this time were beginning to show a greater sense of belonging, coupled with a zeal to make things better. The mattress was invented during this period, though it was mostly made up of feathers, and straw, and enclosed with silk, or velvets.
18th century: At the beginning of the 18th century, mattresses were further improved, with cotton wool being used instead of feathers or straw. And by the middle of that century there was a remarkable improvement in the quality of the materials used for the production of the mattress cover. The covers were then made of good cotton material, allowing for proper and efficient mattress cleaning.
Mid 18th Century – late 19th Century: New innovations that could make the beds a better sleeping place offering greater comfort were introduced. Some of these include the invention of the steel and first coil spring. Also, Mr. Heinrich, a German invented the innerspring mattress. The waterbed was also invented and recommended by Neil Arnott for the prevention and treatment of pressure ulcers.
This period brought about the introduction of the metal bedsprings that give greater rigidity and strength to the body of the bed, thus offering more support to its frame. It is said that the springs were made of heavy-gauge metal wiring formed into a mixture of shapes. The wire had the ability to be interwoven in a lattice pattern, thus providing what can be called complete total head-to-foot and side-to-side support. It could equally be shaped in what can be called a continuous S-shape, or serpentine pattern, though this method appears to be a bit more sophisticated.
Early 19th century – Mid 19th Century: Technology was gaining ground all over the world, and this impacted on the quality of the beds that were being produced. A lot of remarkable innovations took place during this period. The box spring bed was invented during this era and there was a great improvement on the quality of the mattresses produced. It reduced the tendency of the mattresses to swell. It was during this period that Kingsdown, a global leader in bed production opened its first factory.
20th Century: The innerspring mattress mostly in use today was invented during this period. The spring was integrated completely into the mattress, thus providing an additional level of support due to its rigidity, and being considerably less lumpy.
Memory foam mattresses were first introduced by Temper-Pedic Inc in 1992 in in the United States. These mattresses are viscoelastic in nature, thus providing adequate support for each sleeper regardless of their body and needs.
Beds in the 21st Century: There has never been a time when we have more options, and choices as regards the type, style, shape, size of bed we want.
A lot of interesting changes have taken place right from the early days of man to this age where technology has affected everything that we do. Comfort plays a crucial role in one’s choice of a bed to sleep on, especially in this age, where we are constantly bombarded with newer options each day.
Reflecting on these changes and how fast they have happened, especially in the last hundred years, makes one wonder what our beds might look like in the future.
Disclaimer: These are “facts” according to the internet. Some may be classified along with “Fake News” – who knows? But we include them for an interesting read. Please do your own research before relying on them for serious purposes!
1. The oldest carpet in the world is called the Pazyryk carpet. It was discovered in Southern Siberia around 1940. It is more than 2,000 years old, and is noted for its intricate design and beauty.
2. Once in a while you may have randomly uttered 'carpe diem' to your friends. Carpe diem and 'carpet' share a common Latin origin.
3. Despite the symbol now being associated with Nazis, carpets have been sporting the swastika logo for thousands of years. Ancient Indian, Chinese and Western civilizations adopted the pattern and for them swastikas were associated with good luck.
4. Carpets have been named as one of the dirtiest and most contaminated objects in a home. That’s why frequent vacuuming and regular professional carpet cleaning are recommended.
That’s a plug for Horsham Carpet Cleaners
5. In 1963, the phrase 'to sweep under the carpet' was coined-meaning to deliberately take attention off something.
6. Carpets in bedrooms and living rooms could harbour bedbugs and parasites. In addition, they’re a hiding place for harmful bacteria which can survive for up to a month inside the fibres.
Another reason we recommend regular professional carpet cleaning!
7. Persia is considered the bedrock of carpet-making since the reign of King Cyrus. When he conquered Babylon, the beauty of the new city inspired him to start the art of carpet-making.
8. Rug-making is the most popular craft in Iran. Iranian carpets are known for their high quality, durability and yes, high price.
9. During the Civil War, the term 'carpet bagger' was coined to refer to the much-hated Northerners who conquered the South. This term came from their tendency to carry their possessions to and from the battlefield.
10. Some years ago, people were so obsessed with their carpets that they did not think they could get dirty. Due to this, newly-launched Hoover vacuums were initially a very hard sell!
I wonder what made them think that? Well we know better these days – we just have to look at the water after cleaning a carpet!
11. The red carpet - is not as modern as the people on TV would like you to think. It was already in use in 458 BC by Aeschylus for welcoming leaders and important personalities.
12. In the Middle Ages, Europeans had great reverence for oriental carpets. When crusaders returned from their wars of conquest, they brought back with them these rugs, together with wild tales of faraway lands inhabited by new peoples.
13. The name 'carpet' has its origin in the Latin word 'carpere' which means 'to pluck'.
14. If you have £100,000 or more to spare, you could grab yourself a carpet woven with gold and silver strands. Further, you could have precious stones of your choice stuck on the fabric.
That’s not conducive to wandering around in bare feet!
15. The Clark-Sickle Leaf carpet from Persia is the world's most expensive floor covering. It was auctioned for an eye-watering $43.8 million in 2013.
Now we love carpets, but that’s plain ridiculous!
16. The Ardabil Carpets are the most famous carpets in the world. They are of Iranian Azerbaijani origin, popular with such notable personalities such as Hitler and the British Prime Minister.
Not often you see those two in the same sentence!
17. The 'Spring Time of Khosroe' was a carpet considered so valuable that nobody could be allowed to own it alone. It was eventually stolen and cut up to be given to kings as a trophy.
Hmmm – strange reasoning there.
18. Carpets can be used for emotional symbolism: red denotes wealth, green denotes renewal and life, yellow is for royalty, blue is for honesty while white stands for peace, gentleness and tranquility.
19. Carpets rank as one of the most common items of trade throughout history. Rare rugs were given as gifts between kings.
20. Every hour, the human body shed around 1.3 million skin flakes. Most of these end up – you’ve guessed it – on our floors.
21. The Qasr al-Alam holds the record for the world's longest carpet. It is a whopping 5,625 feet long and took 1,200 women working 16 months to complete it.
22. 'Norovirus', the virus that causes stomach flu, can live on a dirty carpet for more than a month.
Yikes – is this true??
23. Sprinkling salt on a carpet and letting it stand for one hour has been found to be a way to leave a carpet shinier and brighter.
Please note: we don’t recommend you try this but include it as a fun “internet fact”
24. Every year, a carpet can gather more than 1 pound of soil.
This we can believe!
25. The first vacuums ever created were so big and heavy that it took 3 people to carry and operate one. They were coal-operated and had to be used outside the building. Large hoses had to be passed into the house through the windows.
Well thank goodness technology has simplified carpet cleaning!
26. When Edmund Hemming invented a street-sweeping machine in 1699, he had unknowingly created a vacuum cleaner.
Hope you enjoyed this assortment of fun facts. If you have any more you’d like us to add, please email us.
Thank you to David for this guest post.
Humans have used rugs and carpets in our homes for a long time. However, most of us don’t really know the history of these two items; where they originated and how they were first made. I found it interesting to learn about the history of how rugs and carpets came into being.
A rug is a essentially a piece of thick cloth, usually made of wool or animal skin meant to cover a specified floor area for decoration or for warmth. In the past rugs were used extensively by travellers to keep them warm as they drove around in horse-drawn vehicles and later in open-top cars before the days of heaters and air conditioning!
The weaving and making of rugs can be dated back to ancient Egypt. Fragments of rug remains were found in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. These pieces of rug were discovered by historians in places like tombs and what could have been temples. In Asia and parts of the Middle East, weaving of rugs can be dated back to 2000BC. The nomadic wanderers in Asia had the ability to make many rugs due to the fact that they had readily available wool from their large flocks of sheep.
However, the oldest existing rug was discovered by a Russian archaeologist called Sergei Rudenko during the unearthing of a burial site in Serbia. It dates back to the 5th century. This rug was made with a knot called the Ghiordes knot, intertwined at an average of 200 knots per square inch.
Making rugs in Europe started around 1000AD, most likely in Spain due to its proximity to Egypt and Mesopotamia.
As far as we know, rugs were first made in England in 1255 when the art of rug making was borrowed from Granada, Spain. After World War II, a Belgian invented a machine to produce large numbers of rugs, which have been sold and used by consumers across the globe. In more recent times, many countries have developed industries to produce rugs for domestic use and export. The art of mass production has been aided by technology in that processing hides, colouring and shaping is now easier than before.
Carpets on the other hand are bigger than rugs. They are used to cover a bigger floor area, to keep one’s feet warm and to keep the entire floor of a room decorated.
According to archaeologists and experts in carpet production, the art of making carpets may have been extended from rug making. They argue that carpets were merely large pieces of rug. Making of carpets can be dated back to the 2nd-3rd century in the Middle East and Asia.
Travelers and merchants learned the art of carpet making because they were in need of woollen pieces of cloth to sleep on. Due to the nature of their adventurous travels, these groups of people would spread the carpets on any flat surface on the ground and have a nap, then continue with their journey. In addition, archaeologists have discovered the remains of carpets which they dated back to 7000BC.
The key countries from where the history of carpets is associated are Egypt, China, Turkey and Mongolia. Carpet making started spreading to other countries in the 6th and 7th centuries. Recent technological advances have enabled the use of different materials in carpet making. Even materials such as pieces of pine wood and plastic are being used to make carpets.
Carpets have had a very interesting history which can even be dated years before Christ. However, it’s worth noting that the production, sales and use of these items has impacted humanity.
Here are a few interesting facts:
The material used to make rugs matters a lot especially in regards to the rug’s lifespan. Visitors are usually impressed by quality items in one’s house. Nonetheless, who wouldn’t want to be complimented by guest for the quality of their rugs or carpets? Best materials for a long-lasting and beautiful display can be silk or wool; with a great combination of color and patterns.
Hand woven rugs are somewhat more durable than machine produced ones. In Africa, most rugs are handmade, where women expertly make rugs using cotton strings and sometimes woollen hides. Most of them make rugs and carpet to sell to tourists.
Traditionally designed rugs and carpets remain ever popular. Their patterns produce a unique display of art that can last generations. Some of our most beautiful stately homes display ancient rugs and carpets as decorative wallhangings - the posters of their day!
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As anyone who lives in the beautiful Sussex town of Horsham knows, it’s an endearing place, lively, individual and beloved by its inhabitants and visitors alike.
Horsham is an ancient market town, with much of its history still on show when you stroll around away from the centre.
There’s a great Facebook group called Memories of Horsham to find out more and to see some wonderful historic photos, with many of the members having spent 70 or 80 years in the district.
Horsham District Council covers over 132,000 people, though most of the population live in the outlying towns and villages. The town itself has far fewer people, but some of the local villages are growing rapidly as Sussex is bombarded with demands for more housing.
As I write, Southwater is adding a huge new settlement and the same thing is happening with Billingshurst. These two villages lie to the south of Horsham and are taking the brunt of more rural development, with their boundaries bursting into the surrounding countryside. It’s sad to see for those of us who love the rural nature of the district, but housing needs fuel all and large building companies benefit at the expense of local residents who’d like to add an odd house here or there. But that’s a subject for another day!
Horsham itself is expanding rapidly too. Currently there is a planning application for a large new settlement to the north of the town, the other side of the A264 bypass. That proposal includes new schools and even a railway station. It will lie between Horsham and Crawley, further narrowing the strategic gap between the two.
Then there’s massive building to the immediate south of the town, effectively merging Horsham into Broadbridge Heath. The latter used to be a small village with its own character, but the building of dual carriageways and hundreds of houses on former farmland has destroyed its individuality and sucked it into the growing urbanisation of Horsham. It's hard to see an area that has such a rural nature becoming so much larger and losing much of its character, but somehow Horsham has managed to retain much of its charm.
At the heart of the town is the Carfax – meaning the meeting of 4 or more roads apparently. It’s pretty-much pedestrianised these days, though there is still a one-way road around the edge. It’s a delightful area housing the war memorial and bandstand and hosts regular farmers markets, occasional French markets and the annual fair. It’s a meeting place, somewhere to sit and watch the world go by on the lovely afternoon. And although many shops have disappeared, you can still buy cheeses, ice creams and antiques from the little shops around the Carfax.
The best-preserved ancient area of Horsham is The Causeway. A stroll down this lane to the beautiful St Mary’s Church will take you back in time. Fortunately it’s not a through-way so there’s little traffic and it remains a calm and peaceful area, away from the bustle of the Carfax. The Causeway also houses Horsham Museum, which is full of interesting artefacts and a great place to start if you wish to find out more about our town.
Part-way down the Causeway, on the opposite side of the road from the museum, is a twitten to take you past some newish flats through to Sainsbury’s. A twitten – for those of you unfamiliar with Sussex dialect – is simply our local word for a passageway. This particular walkway links the old with the new, past those delightful flats that have been well-designed to fit in with the surroundings. You arrive at the other end of the twitten to the supermarket carpark, but around the edge have been retained some wonderful old trees and the area is just about as pleasant as a car park can be!
Turn right and you’ll end up at The Forum, another relatively recent (within 20 years) addition to the town that adds another dimension. A new arrival in this area is Dunelms, who have just moved into the large unit vacated by Beales. Next door is TK Max for those who like a bargain – and who doesn’t? There’s a lovely round café where you can sit outside on a sunny day and eat ice cream or a cake and at the other end of the square is one of those ground fountains with little shoots of water popping up at random. I’ve no idea what they’re called, but children love them. And while we’re in that area, walk a little further, down the steps and you’re at Horsham Library, opposite the modern bus station.
The Bishopric is another historic part of the town, albeit these days choked with traffic from dawn to dusk. You can still see, though, some of the old cottages and imagine how it must have looked when there were no cars and the local cattle market was housed here. It’s a very broad street, but somehow it doesn’t give that impression these days with a broad pavement on one side and cars parked along both sides of the carriageway. You can see some revealing old postcards of this area and the market at the aforesaid Facebook group.
The latest large retail arrival has been Waitrose and John Lewis, who built on the site of the old Ford dealer (I believe) and opened up that side of town. It’s not an unattractive addition, but it has further divided up what has become a town of different parts. Somehow it doesn’t all mesh together in my view to give a coherent whole, but at least we still have some great history and have retained many of the small and individual shops that add to the character of Horsham.
Horsham district is a great place to live, but unfortunately house prices have driven out many of our younger generation. It’s very difficult to buy a house locally unless you’re a high-earning couple or have a large sum to invest. Even the new houses, wedged in as they are on top of each other, sell for ridiculously high sums. It’s probably our proximity to London that provides much of the attraction, since on a good day it’s just a 45 minute train ride to Town. Mind you, with all the recent train strikes and hold-ups, your journey may take considerably longer!
However, with all its shortcomings, we still think the Horsham area is beautiful and a wonderful place to live.