Celebrating everything English in Horsham

IT is the time to celebrate all things English as Horsham steps back in time on Saturday May 7 to celebrate its roots as a thriving, bustling medieval English market town.

Horsham received a Borough Charter in the 13th century and Horsham’s long history is still in evidence today with the narrow, paved twitterns, tree-lined streets and plenty of medieval buildings.

However, the town is also very lucky to have retained its markets and proudly boasts two thriving Saturday markets - the Local Produce Market on the Carfax and the General Market on the Bishopric (that also has a presence on Thursdays).

In a bid to celebrate their heritage, on Saturday May 7 Horsham’s town markets will be stepping back in time with a special medieval market serving all things English.

Apart from some wonderful and unusual costumes amongst the stall holders, some of the produce is not so far removed from what their medieval ancestors would have peddled.

Fresh fish was a staple for those living near water and local fisherman Chris and his father make the trip every Saturday to Horsham.

Chicken and fowl was only affordable to the Lord and his family – nowadays it’s affordable to us all and is another regular at the Local Produce Market.

In fact, pretty much everything you find today on both the Carfax and Bishopric markets was on the menu hundreds of years ago.

Even bees were playing their part back then. Look out for the Central Sussex Bee Keepers Association who will be demonstrating how valuable bees were back then, providing us with wax and honey, and how important it remains today. And, so no one misses out, both markets will be hosting a hog roast.

This special day of serving English local produce, arts and crafts is part of a special free festival celebrating all things English which takes place every year in the first weekend of May.

The medieval market will complement the well-established Day of Dance which is now in its 18th year.

Organised by the local Broadwood Morris Men the Day of Dance is a popular free event which always draws the crowds with dances at locations across Horsham town centre throughout the day, performing traditional English dances such as Morris (Cotswold, North West and Border), Step Clog and Sword.

One of the main features of the day is the Carfax Ceilidh (Bandstand Barn dance) from 3pm which enables members of the public to join in the dancing.

For those wanting to continue enjoying the historical theme of this day a visit to Horsham Museum and Art Gallery is recommended as the perfect place to celebrate the English Festival on May 7.

Hand carved and crafted from the honest toil of English craftsman in the reign of the Virgin Queen Elizabeth I, not only is there the magnificence of the building to admire, from Tudor English oak timbers through to polite pine Georgian columns and Victorian varnishes, but there is a wealth of exhibitions and displays taking place that symbolises the best of England.

Look out for the stunning botanical watercolours from the award-winning former colonist and Anglophile, Suzanne Merrikin.

One of the great English institutions, the Royal Botanical Society, has recently awarded her silver gilt for her watercolours.

Suzanne will be available throughout the day for a chat - a rare opportunity.

Walter Crane, a friend of William Morris, illustrated books that symbolise the golden age of Englishness: the late Victorian and Edwardian eras.

To mark the Museum’s new range of gift cards, there is a display of some of his works.

And don’t forget to pay a visit to the Visitor Information Centre in the museum.

The centre provides a wide range of information about local Horsham district attractions as well as places further afield.

This year sees the launch of five new guides promoting the best that the district has to offer, from gardens to bluebell walks.

This event is organised by the Broadwood Morris Men and the Horsham Local Produce Market with support from Horsham District Council.

Information about the English Festival and Day of Dance can be found at www.horshamentertains.co.uk or by visiting Horsham Visitor Information Centre, 9 Causeway, Horsham. RH12 1HE. Tel:(01403) 211661. Email: visitor.information@horsham.gov.uk. On Sunday May 8 visitors to Horsham can look forward to the St George’s Day Parade throughout Horsham town centre from 12–5pm.