Highways and Byways in Sussex - online book

An illustrated appreciation, of the most interesting districts in Sussex.

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Horsham was the last place in which pressing to death was practised. The year was 1735, and the victim a man un­known, who on being charged with murder and robbery refused to speak. Witnesses having been called to prove him no mute, this old and horrible sentence, proper (as the law considered) to his offence and obstinacy, was passed upon him. The exe­cutioner, the story goes, while conveying the body in a wheel­barrow to burial, turned it out in the roadway at the place where the King's Head now stands, and then putting it in again, passed on. Not long afterwards he fell dead at this spot.
The church of St. Mary, which rises majestically at the end of the Causeway, has a slender shingled spire that reaches a great height—not altogether, however, without indecision. There is probably an altitude beyond which shingles are a mistake : they are better suited to the more modest spire of the small village. The church is remarkable also for length of roof (well covered with Horsham stone), and it is altogether a singularly com­manding structure. Within is an imposing plainness. The stone effigy of a knight in armour reclines just to the south of the altar: son of a branch of the Braose family—of Chesworth, hard by, now in ruins—of whose parent stock we shall hear more when we reach Bramber. The knight, Thomas, Lord Braose, died in 1395. The youth of Horsham, hostile invincibly, like all boys, to the stone nose, have reduced that feature to the level of the face; or was it the work of the Puritans, who are known to have shared in the nasal objection ? South of the churchyard is the river, from the banks of which the church would seem to be all Horsham, so effectually is the town behind it blotted out by its broad back. On the edge of the churchyard is perhaps the smallest house in Sussex: cer­tainly the smallest to combine Gothic windows with the sale of ginger-beer.
Horsham seems always to have been fond of pleasure. Within iron railings in the Carfax, in a trim little enclosure of
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