Westbury white horse to be cleaned for Queen's Jubilee

Westbury white horse
Image caption The landmark underwent a £20,000 refurbishment in 2006.

A greying white horse hillfigure in Wiltshire is to be cleaned in time for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

The Westbury white horse has "deteriorated substantially over the last 12 months" and is a "matter of local concern", said the local council.

It is maintained by English Heritage and last underwent a £20,000 refurbishment in 2006.

A £10,000 grant has been awarded by Westbury Town Council and Westbury Area Board to clean the "grubby" horse.

Area board chairman, Julie Swabey, said the horse had become "so grey and dirty" it was "hard to distinguish it as a landmark".

"It is sad to see her in such a poor state," she said.

"But, hopefully working together with the town council and groups who have offered to help with its brush up will see the horse finally white again."

'Natural weathering'

English Heritage was originally approached, and whilst appreciating the landmark had been affected by "natural weathering" said it was "not at risk of serious damage or disrepair".

"English Heritage continually monitors its condition and regularly removes graffiti from it," said Stuart Maughan, property manager for Wiltshire.

"We care for over 100 historic sites in the South West alone and, therefore, funding is limited.

"So we are delighted that Westbury Town Council has offered to raise funds to repaint the white horse. We are working closely with them to share our expertise to ensure this much-loved local landmark is continually cared for."

Once restored, the town council is planning to illuminate the carving with searchlights as part of Westbury's Jubilee celebrations.

Westbury's horse is said to be the oldest in Wiltshire. It was restored in 1778, but many believe it is far older than that.

It is thought to have been originally carved in 878 AD to commemorate King Alfred's victory over the Danes at the Battle of Ethandune.

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