LETTER: Mistaken in town name’s origin

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Helena Croft deputy leader of HDC must have got her information about the name of Horsham from modern authorities on place names and not from historians of Horsham listed from the year AD947.

When the Romans left Britain in AD420 the southern area was in anarchy. As such Vortigen Prince of Devon and Cornwall was elected as governor of the southern provinces, but not having sufficient forces to keep the the Picts and the Scotts from invading the southern area of Britain, he got consent from the other states to invite a body of Saxons from Germany to strengthen his own authority and forces against the Picts and Scotts.

Two famous brothers Prince Hengist and Prince Horsa landed in AD449, they divided their forces into two bodies, Hengist marching west and Horsa marching east. (Note marching not riding of horses.)

Harassed by the enemy who had taken up position at the now named Picts Hill by Denne Hill, a fierce battle took place and the Picts and Scotts retreated thus leaving Britain at that time without a enemy.

Vortigen was delighted and to commemorate victory induced Horsa a superb residence for himself and a town was ordered to be built bearing the name of horsa now named Horsham.

Horsa the town retained its name until the late 1700AD when it was changed to Horsham.

Horsa was not mentioned in the Domesday Book but the name of Horsa was on the map. Horsa is also mentioned in two Saxon charters dated AD947 and AD963.

There is no mention of horses relating to the name of Horsham that I have researched on any records in Horsham or Sussex. Perhaps Helena Croft could change the theme before it’s too late as £500,000 spent on false information is not the right way to promote our heritage of Horsham.

Roy Gasson

Pondtail Road, Horsham

Footnote: Jason Semmens, curator at Horsham Museum, explained that while this is a well-known story about the derivation of Horsham, it has ‘all the elements of a myth’ and there is no solid evidence to back it up.

He said: “Horsham is a name of two parts, both Anglo Saxon in origin – hors meaning horse and ham meaning homestead or enclosure. Horsham literally means a place of horses.

“In earlier times the area was known to have been used by herdsman from the more southerly manor for grazing livestock.

“It became a favoured place for grazing horses, and for breeding and trading them, due to its position in the High Weald, where the ground was drier during the winter and at a point where the river could be crossed. Eventually the area was settled permanently and Horsham was born.”