Features and History
In the past, Westbury was sometimes known as Westbury-under-the-Plain to distinguish it from other towns of the same name. Westbury is nestled under the northwestern bluffs of Salisbury Plain, and it is there that the town's most famous feature can be seen: the Westbury White Horse. It is sometimes claimed locally that the White Horse was first cut into the chalk face as long ago as the year 878, to commemorate the victory of King Alfred the Great over the Danes in the Battle of Eðandun (probably, but not certainly, at the nearby village of Edington). However, scholars believe this to be an invention of the late 18th century, and no evidence has yet been found for the existence of the Westbury White Horse before the 1720s. The form of the current White Horse dates from 1778, when it was restored. In the 1950s it was decided that the horse would be more easily maintained if it were set in concrete and painted white. In recent years, there has been a multitude of calls to clean or paint the "old grey mare" and such a renovation began in May 2006.
The horse's original form may have been quite different from the horse seen today. One 18th-century engraving shows the horse facing to the right, but in its current form it faces to the left.
Westbury centres on its historic marketplace, with the churchyard of All Saints' Church (14th century) behind it. All Saints' has a heavy ring of bells, an Erasmus Bible and a 16th-century clock with no face constructed by a local blacksmith. The great west window of Westbury's All Saints parish church was donated by Abraham Laverton, who also built and donated in 1869 and 1873 Prospect Square and the Laverton Institute known today as the Laverton.
Until the 1940s, the Westbury Sheep Fair was an important annual event.
In the early part of September 1877, there was found on Bremeridge Farm, in the parish of Dilton Marsh, Wilts, belonging to Charles Paul Phipps, esq. of Chalcot House, a hoard of 32 gold coins. They were found during repairs and improvements of the homestead, about a foot and a half below the surface, in the courtyard, piled, one above another, without any appearance of a purse or box.
The Lafarge cement production plant lies directly north of the town, including the 122m (400ft) chimney, the tallest unsupported structure in southwestern England.