Interesting piece of Yorkshire history to be sold in our May Fine Art & Antiques auction


April 16, 2018

Dee Atkinson & Harrison have been asked to auction an interesting piece of Yorkshire history in their Fine Art & Antiques auction on the 11th May. It is one of the original plans (of a believed three known) for the White Horse of Kilburn as drawn by school teacher John Hodgson in 1857.

Dee Atkinson & Harrison have been asked to auction an interesting piece of Yorkshire history in their Fine Art & Antiques auction on the 11th May. It is one of the original plans (of a believed three known) for the White Horse of Kilburn as drawn by school teacher John Hodgson in 1857. The vendors purchased it in these rooms some eighteen years ago when they owned a farm beneath the Horse.

The White Horse was designed and financed by Thomas Taylor, a Victorian businessman who had made his fortune as a London merchant. He had seen the famous Uffingham Horse in Berkshire and wanted to create something similar for his home village to perpetuate his memory.

The plan was commissioned from artist Harrison Weir (1824 – 1906) and the village schoolmaster, John Hodgson, with the aid of his pupils laid out the plans on the hillside using a grid pattern from this plan. A team of thirty-one volunteers did the actual cutting into the pale limestone which then had six tons of lime added to whiten it and was then also whitewashed; it was completed in November 1857. Today chalk chippings from the Yorkshire Wolds are used.

The White Horse is 314ft long and 228ft high (this has changed a little over the years) and about 20 people can stand on the grass island, which forms the eye, though walking on the horse is now strongly discouraged.

The horse was badly damaged by a storm in 1896 and fell into disrepair after the Great War; the Yorkshire Evening Post organised its resurrection in 1925. All was well until its conspicuousness wasn’t considered a benefit; during World War II the Horse had to be covered over to stop it becoming a target for German bombers. Uncovered in 1946, the Great Storm of 1949 almost destroyed and then local craftsman Robert Thompson took over its care until his death in 1955. Today the White Horse Association looks after its upkeep along with local farmers.