Kilburn White Horse, Yorkshire
Featured Location Guide
It is known by various local place names,
and this has caused some confusion, leading to claims that there is more than
one white horse in the area. A cliff nearby known as White Mare Cliff may have
contributed to this confusion.
This large horse, on a steep SSW facing slope,
near the top of the southern flank of Sutton Bank, near Roulston Scarn the Hambleton
Hills, just north of Kilburn village.
Clearly visible from some distance,
particularly from the East Coast main railway line south of Thirsk and from the
A1 near Kilburn. The best ground view is from two benches situated just inside
the village boundary, marked by a sign near Stockings house on the road from
Balk. This elevated position allows the best overall view of the horse although
slightly further than ideal.
A car park is provided below the white horse
and there is a footpath ascending past it and crossing immediately above it. The
view from the footpath is said to be magnificent. The car park is located on a
steeply graded minor road between Kilburn village and the Visitor Centre on the
Scarborough main road, and the best view of the white horse itself is from the
road on the Bagby, and benches are provided at the best vantage point to allow
Created by removing soil to expose limestone
rock underneath. The image is now formed of off-white limestone chips, but the
steep gradient of the hillside, especially at the horse's breast and forelegs,
have led to slumping and retention boards have been fixed to restrain this.
There are three versions to how this horse
It was created in
November 1857, and some accounts state that it was done by school master John
Hodgson and his pupils, together with local volunteers. A tablet erected at the
car park below it reads, "The Kilburn 'White Horse' -- This figure was cut in
1857 on the initiative of Thomas Taylor, a native of Kilburn. In 1925 a
restoration fund was subscribed by the readers of the Yorkshire Evening Post and
the residue of £100 was invested to provide for the triennial grooming of the
Morris Marples in his 1949 book gives Thomas
Taylor the credit for being the prime mover: a native of Kilburn, he was a buyer
for a London provision merchant, and he seems to have attended celebrations at
Uffington White Horse in 1857, and he was inspired to give his home village a
similar example. Thirty-three men were involved in cutting it, and 6 tons (6.1
metric tonnes) of lime were used to whiten the exposed rock.
The third, version perhaps tells the full
It was finished on 4th November 1857 by local
volunteers. School master John Hodgson (A friend of Thomas Taylor) and his
pupils marked the horse. Thomas Taylor who was obviously influenced by the
Wiltshire horses on his business travels south organised and paid for the
construction of the horse. The original drawing was drawn by the artist Harrison
Weir, and a copy with Hodgson's notes and measurements are still available, 31
men cleared the horse, the exposed scree was
then whitewashed. There was no endowment to scour the horse and public funds
were used to renew the horse after his death. The horse was badly damaged by a
hail storm in 1896 and fell into disrepair after the First World War. It was
renewed in 1925 following a campaign in the Yorkshire Evening Post which is
commemorated by the memorial in the car park. The horse was kept in reasonable
condition until it was covered in 1939. It was uncovered and whitened in 1946, a
storm in 1949 almost destroyed the horse yet again. Local house furniture maker
Robert Thompson was prominent in keeping the horse well groomed until his death
in 1955. A white horse restoration fund was setup and later this became the
White Horse Association, which looks after the horse today in conjunction with
local farmers. The future of this horse has been secured but during its life it
has nearly been lost many times like so many of the other figures.
Designed at 314’ long and 228’ high it is
however currently 318’ and 220’ high
Click on images to see larger versions, on
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Kilburn White Horse, Yorkshire
To visit the horse, leave Kilburn village
towards Bracken Hill, and follow the road up the steep hill, pass the first
car park, carry on up the hill to the second car park from which the horse
can easily be seen.
There is a memorial to the renovation of the
horse in 1925 here next to the path that leads up the steep slope to the top
which is about 250m above sea level. There is also easy access from the
Cleveland Way which passes by the horse.
Car park on hill - see above
Things To Do,
See and Photograph:
White Horse, Views
What to take:
Open all the time
Special Needs Access:
Can be seen from the road, climbing to the
horses may be more difficult.
Special Needs Facilities:
Ideal site for children
No known restrictions
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