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Shelley Sites/Sights

Horsham

The market town of Horsham is rich in Shelleyana. Many sites that would have been familiar to Shelley still exist: among them are Park House, Springfield Park, and the Manor House. South of Horsham along the A24, the West Grinstead Parish Church in which Timothy Shelley and Elizabeth Pilfold were married still holds the eighteenth century pews from which their relatives viewed the ceremony.

In the Horsham town center, one can find Angela Conner's Shelley memorial, "Rising Universe" (it's right next to the McDonald’s; we immediately rechristened it the "McMemorial"). Unveiled in November 1997, it was (according to the KSMA Newsletter of March 1998) immediately dubbed by locals as a "split pea," a "mammoth ice lolly," and a "lychee in a potato skin."

But Horsham offers a good deal more than the memorial. The best local source of information is the Horsham Tourist Information Centre (9, The Causeway, Horsham, West Sussex RH12 1 HE, phone: 01403 211661, fax: 01403 215268, museum phone: 01403 254959), which sells several Shelley-related books and pamphlets, including "Shelley’s Horsham." It is open from 10 AM to 5 PM Tuesday through Saturday, and is housed in a sixteenth century timber framed house on the ultra-fashionable Causeway, where Shelley’s father owned the property shown here.
 
Arun House, the "cottage" that Shelley’s grandfather preferred to his £80,000 Castle Goring, can be found on Denne road, privately owned by the Rooney family. Contemporary gossip hinted that Sir Bysshe must have been a bit mad to live in such relative squalor—although to modern eyes, the snug home seems a good deal more appealing than a drafty fortress. Next to the cottage is the cemetery where Tom Medwin (Shelley’s boyhood friend who turned into an incredibly boring Italian houseguest) is buried.
Another interesting Horsham site is the Church of Saint Mary’s at the foot of the Causeway. The exterior is much as it was in Shelley’s time, although the interior has been completely redone. The family vault of Shelley’s father, mother, and grandfather are here, along with a memorial plaque to Percy Bysshe.
Outside of Horsham, between the A264 and A281 motorways, one can find Saint Leonard’s Forest, one of Shelley’s favorite rambles, and a favorite subject for the wild tales he told his sisters and brother. It is of course the home of the legendary Great Snake, and even today remains rather wild and delightfully Romantic.

Published @ RC

January 2006

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