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A Brief History

There are no accurate records that establish the exact date when the first White Horse was cut but it is generally accepted that the date was around 1863. It was begun by a Mr William Simmonds (born 22nd May 1818, died 1919) of Little Town Farm. This of course, is the farm, which lies at the foot of the White Horse. Some local knowledge suggested it may well be 50 years older but this has not been substantiated.

There are further accounts of scouring and restoration work taking place in 1896 instigated by a Mr Horsey of Brewery House but by 1936 the Horse was in very bad condition. During the Second World War the Horse was concealed by hedge cuttings covered with soil and turf as it was thought that it could be a marker for German aircraft, however by the end of 1945 it was visible once more, but not properly cleaned.

In 1992, following a Village Appraisal, over 90 per cent of the village indicated a willingness to support its cleaning and restoration. Over 180 tons of chalk was put on the Horse and it was limed. Metal stakes were required to hold the chalk in place because of the very steep sided position. The initial restoration received wide local coverage including both Press and television.

The actual dimension of the Horse are approximately 78 feet in length and 57 feet high, its shape being more like a natural horse, unlike some of the of older stylised horses to be found in Wiltshire, and is cut in a characteristic trotting attitude. Now the Society intends to make sure that the Horse is always well maintained, so that it will remain a well-known local landmark. Money from Community Grants and funds raised by the Society and Village meant that the restoration and annual cleaning now takes place on a regular basis. This recently including a substantial donation from the Big Gig for costs towards the liming of the horse in 2007. The team visits the horse on two planned work days a year and makes some strimming expeditions when needed.

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