Colourful history of the Bishopric

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One prominent street in Horsham was the place for those who rebelled against the establishment, where groups of like-minded people met weekly to preach revolution and dissent against Church and State.

Now it is the scene of multi million pound investment and transformation.

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The remarkable story of that street is told in a new fully illustrated publication: The Bishopric – A Biography, published by Horsham District Council’s Horsham Museum.

The Bishopric has a remarkable history, from princes of the Vatican to pipe-making paupers.

The name the Bishopric, derives from its one time owner, the Archbishop of Canterbury, when that position was part of the Roman Catholic Church.

Even by 1550 the Bishopric was a flourishing market site. It had a medieval market cross, possibly even a market hall, taking the name Lynd Cross from lime wood.

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It was later in the 18th century that the area developed a distinct feature as a place of settlement for religious groups who were not part of the establishment. From Quakers, Roman Catholics, Baptists and Independents, they all settled here.

By the end of the century, the once wealthy area with large houses had slumped in status, developing the name the Rookery; not an area of rooks but an area of low life and crime. Later the name would be adopted by the area’s football team as a remarkable photograph published in the book shows.

Even later still in the 1930s a proper developer was going to call the Davies estate Rookery, until someone told them the real meaning.

By the death of Victoria in 1901 the Bishopric was a flourishing area with a bustling market and two breweries. In the more recent past the area developed a row of shops; one run as a sports shop by the husband of author Daphne De Maurier.

It, though, was still seen as a distinctly different area of Horsham, serving the growing community to the west of the town. Its range of shops and trades explored in detail in the directory drawn up by Friend of Horsham Museum volunteer Julie Mitchell.

The Bishopric - A Biography joins another street biography, West Street, both published and available only from Horsham Museum. It contains a wealth of stories and over 40 images of an amazing part of Horsham that today is undergoing one of many transformations it has seen in its 100 year history.

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