The face of Horsham has changed a lot in recent years. In the past 25 to 30 years the labyrinth of old streets in the town centre have been redeveloped. The old centre of the Carfax is still there and, carefully preserved in a flower-surrounded compound, is the iron ring used in bull baiting - a sport in which the local inhabitants have not indulged since it was banned in 1814. Beside the old there is the new. The courts and walks of yesterday have been converted to places where shopping is a pleasure and even the rain can be avoided.
Here and there old weatherboarded cottages, their gardens full of flowers in summer, still remain and at the end of the Causeway there is still St Mary's Church with its tall, twisty shingled spire and buttresses built in the 12th century. Inside is a tablet commemorating perhaps England's greatest lyric poet, who was born a few miles away at Field Place, Broadbridge Heath. It says simply: Percy Bysshe Shelley 1792 - 1822. A stone effigy of a noseless knight in armour lies near the altar. He is Thomas, Lord Braose, who died in 1395 and probably lost his nose to the Puritans some 200 years later. They had a rooted dislike of effigies.
The gabled 16th century Causeway House is now a museum with saddlers and wheelwrights shops, a forge and a Sussex kitchen. In the grounds is an 18th century barn where old agricultural machinery and tools are on display. Horsham was at one time the farming capital of West Sussex. People came here to buy their waggons and horses, their ploughs and their produce, and the local blacksmiths did an excellent trade in horseshoes - and in crossbows during the Hundred Years War. It was also famous for its roofing stone - those flat grey slabs so well loved by lichen, which adorn many of the old houses and cottages in the county. It is used no longer because its great weight needs the support of strong Sussex oak. Modern rafters apparently cannot cope.Man's yesterday may ne'er be like his morrow: Nought may endure but Mutability.
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