Friday, 18 October 2013

Walking at Alton Barnes White Horse with a Friend and a Dog.

 Maxi heads towards the white horse.

Wiltshire is famous for its White Horses carved through the grassland into the white chalk.  This one at Alton Barnes faces to the left, looking towards the "Millenium White Horse" carved in the downs above Devizes, which faces, unusually, to the right.  The originator was a Mr Robert Pile, of Manor Farm, Alton Barnes, who, in 1812, paid twenty pounds to Mr John Thorne, a journeyman painter, to design the white horse, which he sub-contracted for excavation to a Mr John Harvey of Stanton St Bernard.    

Before the work was finished however, Thorne disappeared with the money, and Mr Pile was left to pay out again.   Thorne was eventually hanged in Portsmouth dockyard in 1776,  although for an act of arson carried out there, and not for theft.

The horse is well looked after, with scouring at regular intervals.  In 2010 it underwent major renovation overseen by the landowner Tim Carson and Alton Barnes Parish Council.   A helicopter delivered 150 tons of fresh chalk by air,  and volunteers replenished the surface of the figure.  There is a tradition of lighting the white horses to mark special occasions, and in recent times this horse was lit by candlelight  at the winter solstices in 2001 and 2002, and then every year from 2004 until 2011.  It was also lit on June 30th 2012, to mark its 200th birthday.

 The cows stand guard on top of a bell barrow.

Over the hills and far away at Alton Barnes in Wiltshire.

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