Tag Archives: horsham

Wordless Wednesday: St. Mary’s Church, Horsham, West Sussex

9 May

St. Mary’s Church, Horsham, West Sussex (9th May 2012)

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Confessions of a Bus Geek

24 Mar

The Urban Dictionary defines a bus geek as “someone who rides Public Transportation for purposes of entertainment”. Apart from the American term public transportation (we have public transport in the UK) this pretty much defines how I spent my Saturday.

There was no logical reason for my friend Chris and I spending just over five hours sitting on buses today, it just seemed like a fun idea. It was a coincidence that I was able to visit and photograph one of the places on my genealogy hit list along the way (more about that in a future post).

In fact the whole journey was a bit like a family history tour, passing through so many places in my family tree. Unfortunately we didn’t actually spend time off the bus anywhere other than Tunbridge Wells, but it was good to be travelling through the landscape of my relatives none the less.

The journey itself was a round trip (otherwise I wouldn’t be sitting at home writing this) of about 90 miles, mainly through East and West Sussex, but also crossing into Kent and Surrey.

For the fellow bus geeks reading this the bus routes were:

  1. Horsham to Brighton (17, Stagecoach)
  2. Brighton to Tunbridge Wells (29, Brighton and Hove)
  3. Tunbridge Wells to Crawley (291, Metrobus)
  4. Crawley to Horsham (23, Metrobus)

I have travelled on these routes before, but never the complete routes. I don’t think I have ever been to Tunbridge Wells before, by any mode of transport, but I will definitely be heading back there again. Not least because of the famous Hall’s Bookshop.

I was delighted to find a memorial below to Air Chief Marshall Dowding in Calverley Grounds (the park where we sat and enjoyed a sandwich in the sunshine). This was a perfect piece of genealogical synchronicity because he was born in Moffat, Scotland, the same town as my 3x great-grandfather Thomas Kinghorn.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Who was this Sussex pedestrian?

3 May

I have been reading about pedestrianism recently, I suppose pedestrianism is probably what would be known as race walking these days. My interest stems from the “celebrated Captain Barclay” who once lodged with my GEERING ancestors in Hailsham, Sussex.

It helps that I like walking, however my style of walking is not the same as these pedestrians, less about speed and more about having the time to take everything in and enjoy myself.

I was browsing a copy of the 1813 book Pedestrianism by Walter Thom (available on Google Books) when I discovered the following passage:

Thomas Miller, of Cowford in Sussex, on the 7th of July 1795, walked from the market-house at Horsham to Westminster Bridge-a distance of thirty-six miles-in five hours and fifty minutes, with apparent ease.

I wasn’t sure whether to be pleased or not. I was pleased to discover a Sussex pedestrian, especially one so close to home. Cowford is almost certainly meant to be Cowfold (which is just up the road from me) and Horsham is my closest town, which I pass through every day on my way to work.

I was a little disappointed that Thomas Miller had walked one of the routes I was intending to walk this year, and what is more he had done it in a time that would put my feeble efforts to shame.

The idea came to me last year as I was sitting on the train on my way home from work, watching the milestones at the side of the track. I noticed that we were only about thirty miles from London (or a couple of days comfortable walking). It was then I remembered a milestone in Horsham alongside the park (pictured left) indicating the 36 miles to Westminster Bridge.

At first I thought that with a bit of judicious planning I could probably find a more direct route, following footpaths rather than roads, but then I thought it might be more interesting to try to follow the route of the original road to London.

I have done some preliminary work on the route, but I haven’t finalised my plans yet. In a way the discovery that someone else had already walked the route over two hundred years ago adds more to the story, especially if I could find out more.

Unfortunately my initial efforts at finding out more about Thomas Miller have proved fruitless (no sign of him in the Cowfold parish register transcriptions), but I don’t really have a lot of information to go on. Hopefully I can find another account of the walk which might provide more details.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.

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Wandering: High Weald Landscape Trail – Horsham to Bolney

30 Apr

The High Weald Landscape Trail is a 90 mile route that runs from Horsham in West Sussex to Rye in East Sussex. The High Weald is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and according to the High Weald AONB website its key features are “its rolling hills, scattered farmsteads, small woodlands, irregular-shaped fields, open heaths and ancient routeways”.

The walk begins in the town of Horsham, West Sussex at the railway station in the north of the town. The first half a mile or so of the route is not very inspiring but it soon breaks free of the residential streets of Horsham and heads into woodland. Soon the tarmac gives way to dirt tracks and before long the dog walkers begin to thin out and the town becomes a distant memory.

The dominating feature of the first part of today’s walk was the woodland, ranging from the “small woodland” mentioned above, with narrow paths winding through the bluebells to a larger forest with stacks of recently felled timber alongside the wide tracks.

The dominant industry in this area was iron working, hence the need for timber and also water. There are several ponds/lakes which provided the water, the one below is Carterslodge Pond near Slaugham, West Sussex.

The route had been mainly heading in an easterly direction for about five miles, but it started heading in a more southerly direction as it emerged from the woodland and into a more open landscape and headed towards the village of Slaugham, West Sussex. I have never been to Slaugham before, expect in family history records, and this was one of the highlights of today’s walk.

Despite having several family connections in the village I didn’t really have any specific destination other than the parish church, even then it was just to have a general look around, rather than searching for any specific gravestones.

Both the church and village were beautiful in the sunshine. With the exception of the modern cars and a few other modern trappings it did look like the village could be stuck in a time warp, and I began to wonder whether I had walked onto the set of a period drama.

The route continued southwards another three or four miles through similar landscape, another lake and a few smaller patches of woodland before hitting a quiet country road between Warninglid and Bolney. Not long after a glimpse of a trig point, a separate road branches off to the east and then another footpath heading off south again winds its way onward to the village of Bolney.

The Eight Bells pub (pictured above) provided some welcome refreshment and a chance to take the weight off our feet, whilst we waited for the rather infrequent bus back to Horsham.

Just across the road was Bolney church, which looked glorious in the sunshine and to my surprise and delight it was unlocked. So for the first time I was able to set foot in the church that has been such a prominent feature in the lives of my ancestors and in my own research.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.

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Wandering: Horsham Riverside Walk

22 Apr

It was a very good Friday today, the weather was perhaps a trifle too warm for walking any great distance, bright sunshine and very little breeze. Nevertheless my friend Chris and I ended up walking 11 miles or so around the town of Horsham, West Sussex on what is laughingly called the Horsham Riverside Walk.

It would be better described as the Horsham Circular Walk, without any pretence of it being a river walk at all because for what seems like a large part of the walk there is no sign of the river at all, unless you count streams and ditches as rivers. The south-western and southern parts of the route do follow the River Arun especially near Chesworth Farm, where the photo below was taken.

The walk does pass through a variety of environments and it has to be said that there are some quite nice parts, but I think that is largely down to the fact that it is spring and there are lots of flowers coming into bloom. Some of the stretches of woodland were full of bluebells and further along the route there were large patches of wild garlic.

One major problem with the route is the rather poor waymarking for large parts of the route. The map and directions provided by the local council are not really that helpful either. The route is crying out for a decent guide and I had wondered whether it was something I should take on.

However, having walked the complete route I am not sure that I would recommend anyone actually bother to do the same. It is not particularly difficult once you know where you are going although some parts will obviously get very muddy in winter, but it just lacks any real points of interest to get enthusiastic about. Your time would be much better spent exploring the historic streets of Horsham and it’s museum.

So having said that why did we bother walking it? Well, it was something of a personal challenge. We have attempted to complete the walk twice in the past and on both occasions we have become frustrated by the lack of waymarking (coupled with poor weather on the second attempt) and have given up and wandered off on our own route. I am pleased to say that we completed the route, but probably won’t be bothering again.

Picture Postcard Parade: West Street, Horsham

4 Apr

This postcard shows one of the main shopping streets in Horsham, Sussex and as such is not particularly unusual. The reason I bought it was to do with the message more than anything else.

West Street, Horsham, West Sussex is now pedestrianised and I pass along it almost every evening on my way home from work. Although the shop fronts have changed the upper floors and roofs of many of the buildings haven’t altered a great deal, on the outside at least.

The interest is in the subject of the message, postcard collecting. To save you standing on your head here is the message the right way up.

Mr D. Bryce of East Street, Horsham was sending this to a fellow collector of PPCs (Picture Postcards) with the hope of receiving similar cards in return. Note the request for views only, obviously he wasn’t interested in postcards of flowers or kittens or such like. The address side of the card adds further interest to the card.

Not only is the card being sent to Mademoiselle A. Trabuchet in France and the postmark reveals quite an early posting date of the 7th July 1903, but it also provides an excellent illustration of the postal regulations in force at the time.

For foreign countries only the front of the card could be used for the message and cost of postage was double the usual rate of half a penny. I am not sure whether this was the official rate for France or whether the sender was just being over-cautious. Either way Mr D. Bryce must have been a very keen collector, I wonder if he got any cards in return?

Personal Genealogy Update: Week 34

22 Aug

I don’t know quite what happened last week, I didn’t really achieve a great deal, in fact I am struggling to remember what I did achieve this week. I guess I have been a bit lazy this week, I have had opportunities to do family history but have been distracted by other things.

I did get started on capturing details from the National Probate Calendar, but I didn’t get far. One entry I did look at was the entry for Thomas DRIVER (my 3x great-grandfather) and this illustrated one of the problems of these entries. The names of the two executors, his daughter and son-in-law, lead to tracing them and their children. It is a good problem to have, but it makes it all very time consuming.

One positive thing that I did do last week was join Surrey libraries. My week means that I have the opportunity to visit Horley library during my lunch break and after work, in fact it will probably be easier to visit Horley library than my local library at Horsham. The main benefit of library membership is access to their online library including the Times Digital Archive and Nineteenth Century Newspapers websites.

I need to try and get focused again this week, I suppose I have been spending more time writing about family history than actually doing any research. I guess it boils down once again to being more organised.

I need to order the copies of wills that I said I was going to last week, and I need to process the two BATEMAN certificates that I didn’t get around to working on last week. Apart from that I will probably just work on capturing more probate entries.

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