Cherhill White Horse

THE Cherhill Horse, or Oldbury horse as it is often known, is the second oldest of Wiltshire's horses. It is situated on the Cherhill Downs, about four miles east of Calne.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Static HTML image It is found to be near the scene of a great battle which was fought between Egbert, King of the West Saxons and Ceolwulph King of the Mercians in 821 AD. It is situated just below Oldbury Castle, an old hill fort, and the Lansdowne monument.

Dr Christopher Allsop, who was Guild Steward of the Borough and lived in nearby Calne, cut the horse in the year 1780.

Known as 'Mad Doctor' he was rumoured to have shouted his instructions for the horse through a speaking trumpet, from a position in Cherhill village, one and a half miles away. A distinguishing feature of the Cherhill white horse was the animal's eye, which in the late 1800s was filled with old bottles that sparkled in the sun from a great distance.

The bottles were donated by a farmer's wife, but were quickly stolen by souvenir hunters. Nearly 100 years later, in 1971, a new eye, (composed of 50 bottles,) was put in place by schoolchildren, but it has now been replaced by a concrete eye. Unlike the Westbury White Horse, the surface of the Cherhill horse is still chalk.

The horse was last refurbished by the Cherhill Parish Council in 2002, at a cost of £18,000.