Medieval building lies at the heart of today’s bookstore

Chart and Lawrence, Horsham
Chart and Lawrence, Horsham

Today, with the size and scale of the buildings, it is difficult to imagine how West Street in Horsham actually started.

However this picture taken around 1890, does just that as it shows the Carfax end of West Street when the buildings were basically shops housed in large but domestic scaled buildings. Around 1206 the De Braose family of Norman lords were given permission to develop their lands without any interference from the king. So in Horsham they laid out plots of land around a new market place and these two buildings sit on two of those plots, either side of what would become West Street.

At the very heart of Waterstones remains a late medieval building, which by 1611 was known as The Red Lion.

Over the years the Inn has changed use and had many owners becoming home and offices for the late 18th century solicitor/town clerk Thomas Charles Medwin who appears to have painted it white. His son Thomas Medwin, who was born here, became in 1824 a European literary sensation when he published his Conversations with Lord Byron. Later the house would have a change in fortune and become Dukes Emporium, later being turned in to Chart and Lawrence.