The ‘white horse’ is one of the most remarkable sites for any visitor to ‘Thomas Hardy’ country. Located on Cherhill Down, 3.5 miles east of the town of Calne in Wiltshire, the White Horse dates back to the late 18th century and is the third oldest of its kind in the country. The figure is also known as the ‘Oldbury White Horse’. It can be clearly seen from the A4 and the best viewing point is the westbound lay-by which lies just below the figure.
Monuments and Famous People
Nearby stands the ‘Lansdowne Monument’ reaching 125 feet in height. This obelisk was erected by the Third Marquis of Lansdowne, Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice, to commemorate his ancestor, Sir William Petty in 1845. Sir William Petty was an English economist, scientist and philosopher. He first became a prominent figure when he served Oliver Cromwell and the Commonwealth in Ireland. It is thought the Cherhill horse might have been inspired by the Westbury horse figure located on the escarpment of Salisbury Plain. This is the oldest white horse carved in Wiltshire and one of eight from still visible although at one time there were 13. The Cherhill White Horse has been restored on many occasions and in 1935 it was dressed with a mixture of concrete and chalk.
In 1937 it was floodlit and the letters GE illuminated in red above the horse to mark the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. A major restoration programme was carried out in 2002 by the ‘Cherhill White Horse Restoration Group,’ when the horse was resurfaced using 160 tonnes of new chalk.
In the 19th century a glass eye was made for the horse by pressing bottles into the ground neck first, this was carried out by a farmer and his wife. By the late 19th century the bottles had mysteriously disappeared and in the 1970s, a project run by a local youth centre added a new eye made from glass bottles but these too mysteriously disappeared. The horse’s eye now consists of stone and concrete standing proud of its chalk surface. Some people will know the White Horse from The Timelords music video for ‘Doctorin’ the Tardis.’
Crop Circles and UFOs
The area around the Cherhill White Horse is known for its Crop Circles. This strange phenomenon is documented throughout Wiltshire as are many UFO sightings.
Wiltshire is a ‘spiritual’ part of the country and has strong Pagan connections. It is an area noted for its paranormal and unexplained activity.
Camping and Caravanning Club Site
Spout Lane, Nr Seend, Melksham
Wiltshire, England, SN12 6RN
+44 (0)1380 828 839
- Address: A4 (road), Calne, Wiltshire, England, United Kingdom, SN11 8XY
- GPS: 51.42493889,-1.929569444
- Part of UK: England
- Sat Nav Postcode: SN11 8XY
- Entrance Fees: Free Access
- Disabled Access: None – but best visible from A4 road layby (see Map)
- Visibility from Road: Excellent
- Image Credits: Header Image: Emily Goodwin