Over the last 50 years there has been considerable change and expansion in North Horsham, but it is still possible to stumble across structures and places that existed over 1,000 years ago. At that stage in our history the land was owned by either the king or the church with important families being their tenants. The area was mainly used for hunting deer and rabbit, which is where the name of Roffey is derived.
A 900 year old fortified hunting lodge.
On the corner of Rusper Road and Lemmington Way is a hidden historical gem. Chennelsbrook Motte and Bailey Castle is Horsham District’s only listed Ancient Monument and yet many people drive past it on their way to join or leave the A264 every day without realising the importance of this unique site. In fact the site is so well hidden that the Motte and Bailey lay undiscovered for many years until it was recognised by Hugh Braun when travelling past on the train in 1935.
Motte and Bailey castles are mediaeval fortifications introduced into Britain by the Normans. They comprise a large conical mound of earth or rubble, the Motte, surmounted by a palisade and a stone or timber tower. The Bailey is a enclosure containing additional buildings adjoined to the Motte. Chenelsbrook Castle was built in the twenty years after 1066 and is thought to be the northern most of a chain of fortified sites built by the De Braose lords of the Rape of Bramber. It has a raised Motte and Bailey surrounded by an oval shaped ditch. There is evidence that the ditch was originally dry, but then became filled with water by diverting the nearby stream. It would seem that the whole site was abandoned after 1150.
The De Braose lords had their main home at Bramber Castle with additional castles at Knepp (West Grinstead) and Sedgewick (Nuthurst) It is believed that the De Braose family liked this area for its hunting, a sport that the Norman aristocracy were passionate about. It is thought that Chennelsbrook could have been built out of timber in an unusual continental design as a hunting lodge and occupied by William de Chernella.
The destruction of Chennelsbrook Castle could be linked to the Treaty of Wallingford in 1154 when, in order to obtain peace in the civil war between King Stephen and the Empress Matilda, a number of smaller castles were destroyed. Soon after this a farmhouse was built near the site of the castle, which still exists today.
It has been registered with Historic England (list entry 1014389) and is protected for future generations.
The first toll road to Crawley was completed in 1830 followed by the railways in the 1870s. Housing development which started along Crawley Road centred on the Star Inn and the Union Workhouse and Infirmary. The latter has now been turned into stylish residences.
More Recent History
Early in the 20th century Roffey became urbanised with 1,000 acres joining the Horsham urban area. Change continued during WW2 when an armaments research establishment was built in Langhurstwood Road.
In 1954 electric street lighting came to North Horsham followed in the 1960’s by an upsurge in house building and the industrial developments around Parsonage Road and Redkiln Way.
Many people may recall the Renault dealership, Harold Lines, on Crawley Road that was demolished to make way for Roffey Millennium Hall and the garage higher up Crawley Road towards Roffey Corner on the right which was knocked down around ten years ago.
Until recently Novartis dominated the Parsonage Road area, but that is now under development.
A History of North Horsham Parish to Celebrate the Millennium by Dr. Annabelle Hughes has been the source of much information within this page.