The former Horsham Union Workhouse is just off the Crawley Road, on the same plot as the Workhouse Infirmary. You can walk in from Crawley Road but if you are coming by car you enter via Oak Tree Way.

The workhouse could house up to 250 inmates and was designed by Hallett and Newman of London. The foundation stone was laid by William Lanham Thomas, the former Assistant Overseer of the Poor, on 19 September 1838. The Horsham Photographer has been unable to find the foundation stone on the outside of the building, please use the comments form below if you know its location. The workhouse was completed in 1839 and remained in service until 1939 although the name changed to the Horsham Public Assistance Institution in 1929.

The workhouse also ran a school for an average of 40 children although in 1846/7 it is recorded that there were 25 children of each sex enrolled. Vocational skills were taught to prepare the child for manual labour.

The Horsham Workhouse differed from others in many ways and were often more leniant with their inmates. As early as 1868 they were allowed visitors, not allowed at other workhouses to as late as 1890. Additional tobacco was allowed to the older inmates for ‘medicinal purposes’ from 1870, elsewhere from 1892.

On Good Friday on March 28th 1902 the Horsham Recreation Band gave its first public performance to raise money for the workhouse.

In 1941 the workhouse and infirmary became the hospital for Canadian soldiers during World War II, designated for casualties of the D Day landings. After being fitted out with some 600 beds it was used for soldiers to recuperate from injuries. It was known as known as No. 9 Canadian General Hospital and had its windows blown out by German bombs early in the war. Canadian troops camped out on Denne Hill were detailed to carry out the repairs.

After the war the Earlswood Hospital Trust took over the buildings and renamed them the Forest Hospital. It was used until about 1990 to care for patients with severe learning disabilities.

In 1992 the some outbuildings were demolished and the main building converted for residential use.

Ian Nairn said of the building:

…1m. out along Crawley Road is FOREST HOSPITAL, the old Workhouse, 1838, Late Classical. Pedimented centre, lower wings concealed by single-storey links. Dull.

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