The Marlborough or Preshute white horse
Ordnance Survey grid reference: SU 184 682
Small but well-maintained, the Marlborough white horse is on a relatively shallow slope on Granham Hill, above the village of Preshute, just southwest of Marlborough. It is just to the west of the A345 Marlborough to Pewsey road.
This white horse was cut in 1804 by pupils of a boys' school run by a Mr Greasley or Gresley. The school was not Marlborough College but Mr Greasley's Academy in the High Street, in what is now The Ivy House Hotel. The horse was designed by a pupil called William Canning, of the Manor House, Ogbourne St George, who also marked it out on the hill. It was scoured every year, and this scouring became a much-loved tradition at the school.
On Mr Greasley's death around 1830, however, the school was closed and the horse was neglected for a time. But by 1860 it was in reasonable condition again; a photograph taken that year of a cricket match shows the horse in the background. In 1873, having been neglected again, it was scoured under the direction of a Captain Reed, a former pupil of Mr Greasley's school, who had taken part in the creation of the horse.
This horse seems to have changed a lot in appearance over the years. In early twentieth century photographs it looks quite solid and naturalistic, but it is now much thinner and more stylized.
The horse is not easily seen from afar due to the many trees which obstruct distant views of it, but it can be seen from parts of Marlborough. The best view is perhaps from the footpath which runs from Preshute House to the A345, near the tennis courts and running track.
Despite the restoration in 2001 (details below) the horse had grass growing over much of the surface when I last saw it in September 2002. The fence around the horse has been replaced, but the horse itself is in need of attention again.
The following information was kindly supplied by Andrew Eastland of 2nd Marlborough Scouts:
This white horse was renovated on Saturday 22nd September 2001. The work was undertaken by the boys and girls of 2nd Marlborough Scout troop with tools and materials supplied by Marlborough College. The renovation included the removal of grass and mosses growing on the figure and the trimming of undergrowth and bushes growing on the hillside below. The figure was then re-chalked to restore it to its original condition. The covering is pure calcium carbonate (chalk) mixed with water and then applied with a stiff brush.
A new roundabout is to be built in Salisbury Road, Marlborough to provide access to the new White Horse Business Park. There is a plan to create two chalk white horses, one on each side of the roundabout, with chalk spoil from the development.
OS 1:50 000 map
This site was last updated on 6th May 2013