Each display area in our museum is called a gallery. Find out more about each gallery on this page so you can plan your visit.
There is no step-free access to the first floor and some steps are involved once you are upstairs. Please bear this in mind when planning your visit.
The Art Gallery is used to display work by local artists and we often run selling exhibitions so you can take a piece home with you.
Crime and Punishment
The world's first revolutionary gaol was built in Horsham in 1775. The display uses the original windows, door, padlock and keys from the gaol and is combined with crime and punishment stories from our archive.
On display here are gardening items in a small display of a potting shed. Objects include a seventeenth century watering can (pictured), 1950s seed packets, rakes, pruning knives, Sussex trugs, cooking items and a sleeping cat.
The gallery centres on the remains of an original fireplace that was discovered during renovations and also displays pottery and porcelain from the 18th and 19th centuries.
The Museum's saddlery and lorinery display gives a flavour of William Albery's West Street shop in Horsham (pictured: Albery in his shop). Albery developed a keen interest in the history of saddlery, collecting examples of the saddler's art and craft dating from the 1850s onwards. He gave his collection to the town in the 1950s.
Items on display range from the state harness used by the Turkish Ambassador at the Coronation of Edward VII to a 1795 harness used on a cart horse. The collection of horse bits are just part of the 1,000 or more bits in the Albery collection.
Discover how shop goods and retail displays have changed between the Victorian era and the 1960s. Our William & Smith chemist's shop front is a real highlight in this gallery - we are lucky to have all the fixtures and fittings from the shop, which closed in the 1970s and was still using the Victorian drug drawers.
Tools and Trade
A gallery dedicated to the local trades in Horsham, including smithing. See the tools and equipment of the Piper family from Southwater, whose business began in the early 1800s and ceased trading in the late 1960s. The display houses an impressive bellows, a tyring iron, and a host of other tools.
Temporary Exhibition Gallery
A space used for our ever-changing programme of temporary art, historical and cultural exhibitions.
Housed in the museum’s late 17th-century panelled room, the Watercolour Gallery will showcase an ever-changing display of watercolours recently acquired by the Friends of Horsham Museum.
Cabinet of curiosities
Cabinets of Curiosity were the forerunners of museums. They were the personal collections of wealthy owners and they eventually developed into museums as we know them today. On display is ours there is a narwhal horn (or is it a unicorn horn?); finds from Latin America; Roman and Egyptian objects; and archaeological finds which would have been mysterious to people in the 16th century.
We have over 3,000 garments dating from the 1670s all the way up to 2000. It's a real treasure trove of outfits, accessories, jewellery and even a cabinet of buttons. A popular visit for students studying fashion and textiles.
The Craft gallery features a changing programme of current work by some of the best of the District's craftspeople, including ceramics, glassware, tapestries and woodworking. This gallery also features a collection of Horsham's long case, or 'grandfather,' clocks.
Flints and Fossils
Horsham was at the cutting edge of Victorian science as two local men, George Bax Holmes and Thomas Honywood, transformed the idea of the past.
Bax Holmes discovered and collected dinosaur fossils, including the remains of the Great Horsham Iguanodon at St. Mark's, while Honywood discovered the material remains of Mesolithic man (from the period after the last ice age, some 8 to 10,000 years ago).
Horsham can trace its origins to a land charter of AD 947 and has seen a number of developments in the thousand years since. The displays trace how Horsham came by its name in Saxon times to the town centre redevelopments of the 1980s and 1990s. The medieval case features a collection of medieval pots known as the 'Horsham Hoard,' found in the 1860s by Thomas Honywood.
In the eighteenth and nineteenth century cases there are guns and watches made by local craftsmen, while the twentieth century case displays collecting tins used for fund raising for the town's War Memorial and the cottage hospital, and shell fragments from WWII bombs that fell on the town.
The books in the Library are available for public use, although as it is not a lending library the books cannot be taken away. The Curators' Library of over 2,000 books covers many of the items featured in the Museum's collections along with a valuable section of local history books.
The Museum holds a good collection of books on local history in the Reserve Collection kept in the Archive Store. If you would like to consult any of the books from the Reserve Collection, please give us three days' notice and we will be pleased to make them available to you.
The Library is also used as a workroom by Museum volunteers and members of the Society, so it can be a lively space and absolute silence cannot always be guaranteed. If you would prefer some peace and quiet please contact us for advice as to the most favourable visiting times.
Percy Bysshe Shelley, the poet and well known political radical, was born at Field Place, Warnham, in 1792. During his short life he wrote some of the most powerful poetry in the English language and promoted radical causes, such as political and religious reform, equality between the sexes and vegetarianism.
Horsham Museum has built up a solid collection of first and early editions of Shelley's works and those of his circle. On display is a very rare bronze bust of Shelley, as well as a model of the 'Ajax,' which saw action in the Battle of Trafalgar captained by Shelley's uncle, Captain John Pilfold.
This bright and lively gallery focuses on childhood and the toys that filled it, ranging from a medieval toy pot to modern day favourites. On show there is a complete Edwardian dolls' house, a moving model railway engine and displays showing toys and objects from several generations of children from the early 1900s to the 1990s. There is also a bookcase with examples of children's literature spanning 200 years.
This small space is in the oldest part of the Museum, dating back to the 1420s.
The landing features items brought back from overseas by Charles and Emma Henderson, who travelled to the Far East in the 1880s and 1890s. They returned with many unusual items to decorate their home at Sedgwick Park, near Nuthurst, Horsham. These include a large earthenware vase and a bronze kylin, or 'Dog of Fo,' from China that eventually joined many other ethnographical items in the Museum's collection. There is also a superbly carved Indian temple.
Also on display there are weapons and shields from Africa. Such objects are not necessarily associated with Sussex, but have a Horsham connection through the many people from the District who have travelled the globe bringing back souvenirs from other cultures.
Garden and Barn
The barn is an original farm building set up at the Museum during 1982 and 1983. It houses displays on the Wealden farmer, Sussex trades and transport and garden equipment. The gallery tells the story of farming from the medieval period through to World War II.
The centrepiece of this display is the 1868 Shand Fire Engine, one of two fire engines used in Horsham in the Victorian era. Along with the engine you will discover fire helmets, axes and other items used by the fire service.
The Museum holds a notable collection of early bicycles such as a 'Boneshaker,' an 'Ordinary,' best known as the 'Penny Farthing,' and a replica of the celebrated 'Hen and Chicken,' or 'Pentacycle,' designed by Horsham architect, Edward Burstow. In all there are over 15 bicycles on display.
Children's Art Zone
Free to use and open daily, the Children's Art Zone provides activities and crafts materials. Find out more about the Art Zone and our other children's activities on our Children's trails and activities page.
The museum garden is a lovely quiet spot for reflection and comes into its own in spring and summer when all manner of colourful plants brighten up the space.
Items from the Museum's collections displayed in the garden include two local milestones used as a seat, two parish boundary stones, a bronze by J G Millais, a lead pump, three stone sinks, two stone food preparation slabs, the plinth of the sundial and the cauldron. Stone pots and the sundial plate are modern.