The old Pewsey white horse
Ordnance Survey grid reference: SU 171 580
Pewsey has had a new white horse since 1937, but it once had a much older one. The horse was on Pewsey Hill about a mile south of Pewsey, to the east of the minor road that leads from the A345 on the edge of Pewsey to the village of Everleigh. The new horse is very close to the site of the old one.
The horse was cut by, or on the instructions of, a Robert Pile of Manor Farm, Alton Barnes, probably around 1785. The Alton Barnes white horse was cut some twenty-five or thirty years later by a Robert Pile of the same address, but it isn't certain whether this was the same man or perhaps his son. The Pewsey horse was scoured in 1789, and this was probably the first and last scouring, as the landowner objected to the festivities which accompanied it and refused to allow it again.
It fell into neglect, and by the mid 1800s was in a very poor state of repair. By the nineteen-thirties, the chalk was no longer visible, but the outline of the head and body could just be made out, both as raised contours revealed by the light of the newly risen sun and as a discolouration of the grass.
From a sketch of the contours still visible in 1939, the horse may have been of fairly good proportions, and it faced left as most Wiltshire white horses do. Local tradition holds that the horse had a boy rider, but there appears to have been no visible rider in the late 1800s when the chalk was still visible, so it is uncertain whether there really was one.
Like the old Devizes horse, the old Pewsey white horse is now no longer visible, but the chalk infilling may still remain under the turf.