VIDEO: Chance meeting unites Horsham with its American namesake

A couple from Horsham in the United States, have been touring the sights of Sussex after meeting a British Horsham couple on a cruise nine years ago.

Bob and Debbie Coppola of Horsham, Pennsylvania, met Dave and Catherine Calvert, of The Green, Dial Post, whilst on holiday. The couples did not believe each other when they said where they were from.

JPCT 090513 S13200001x American visitors to Horsham, from Horsham USA -photo by Steve Cobb

JPCT 090513 S13200001x American visitors to Horsham, from Horsham USA -photo by Steve Cobb

After staying in contact by email for nearly a decade the Coppolas visited their hometown’s UK namesake last week.

Debbie said: “We took a two week tour in the Canadian Rockies by land and we all ended up in Vancouver. We all met in Calgary and were on the same cruise ship around Alaska. Their cabin was right underneath us.”

Catherine said: “We met at Gatwick and it’s just like it was yesterday.”

Here they have enjoyed comparing the two towns. Debbie said: “It’s similar, but different. Obviously our history doesn’t go back as far as yours here, but that makes it so much more enjoyable.

“We had a lovely tea at Amberley. We went to Arundel Castle and we’re going to Brighton.

“Both Horshams are good places to bring up your family and there’s a sense of community. We don’t have a town centre.”

There was one thing that stunned the couple about the Brits though.

Debbie said: “I cannot believe how much tea you drink.

“They stop for tea in the morning, they stop for tea in the afternoon.

“We have coffee shops and coffee breaks in America, but we don’t have tea breaks.”

On their journey together the two couples have learnt more about the history of both towns.

Bob said: “William Penn who founded Pennsylvania was from around here. King Charles II granted a piece of land to him and he named it after his father.”

It was a time when the Quaker movement was disregarding the established church and Penn was influential within it. The King saw it as a the perfect solution to the problem.

In 1682, Penn arrived in America and founded the city of Philadelphia, which translates as ‘the city of brotherly love’.

Having experienced religious persecution in his homeland he wanted it to be a place of harmony between people of all views.

Another Sussex man and Quaker Samuel Carpenter also played a large part in the early colonisation of Horsham across The Pond.

As Penn set up the judicial system, government and schools, all based on his Quaker roots, Carpenter built up his business there.

In 1684 he purchased 5,000 acres covering the part of the state which is now the Horsham township. He died before it was officially established in 1717, but evidence suggests he also gave it the name Horsham.

Catherine and Dave hope to follow in Penn and Carpenter’s footsteps and pay their new friends a visit in America in the future.