Above is The White Horse of Osmington Hill, Weymouth, Dorset.
It can clearly be seen from Weymouth Beach, Jordan Hill Roman Temple and may other local attractions.
The figure is of King George III, who regularly visited Weymouth. There seems to be may stories and versions of what and why this white horse was carved into the side of Osmington Hill to the east of the town, overlooking Weymouth Bay. This horse is the only example of a horse with rider.
One unlikely story is that it was cut by a soldier in the early 19th century to commemorate the visits paid to Weymouth by King George III and his brother the Duke of Gloucester from 1789. But covering almost an acre, could it really be the work of just one man?
Another story says that the work was done by a group of engineers stationed in Weymouth when the fear of a Napoleonic invasion was at its height. This is linked to the mention of the horse in Thomas Hardy's "The Trumpet Major" where it is said to commemorate the Battle of Trafalgar.
Two similar stories, one says that it was commissioned by the people of Weymouth and the other said Mr Wood a book seller directed the construction at the expense and request of John Ranier brother of Admiral Nelson, both stories give the reason as to celebrate the Kings visits to Weymouth, bring with him prosperity to the area. the date is unclear but would look to be early 1800s and it has been suggested the king was added in around 1815. Oh yes, almost forgot to say that it was It is said that a Mr Wood, who created the figure, committed suicide when he realised that he had portrayed the King with his back to his beloved Weymouth!
(above view of Osmington White Horse from road)
Another story says the King was supposedly unimpressed, as the figure was carved pointing away from Weymouth and it was suggested he took this as a hint he was being asked to leave, and never returned. The truth is that the King never saw the chalk figure since it was not cut until after his last visit to the town
Another version of the story stated that unfortunately the king did not like this representation [the horse] and demanded that it be removed! The villagers decided to keep it there, and today, the king can still be seen riding the horse out of Weymouth.
The more I research the taller the tales become, but by now you should have a good idea of the history and legends surround the Osmington White horse.
(above view of Osmington White Horse)
The horse is regularly scoured, most memorably in 1996 when the horse was featured on challenge Anneka when white Portland stone was added to the horse. The horse is looked after by the landowner and English Heritage but Dorset County Council Archaeology Service and Dorset Countryside Ranger Service have become involved in its maintenance.
If you have any pictures of Challenge Anneka at Osmington or any pictures of The White Horse of Osmington, or maybe another twist to the stories already told here then please email them to me - firstname.lastname@example.org and I promise to reply to every email!