Thirty-five years ago proposals for the design of a commemorative horse, to be cut in the chalk on the northern slopes of Butser Hill, were galloping around the parish.
The proposals, to produce a permanent celebration of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, were initiated by Prince Michael of Kent who had recently lit the beacon on Butser Hill. The renowned sculptor David Wynne designed the horse and Lord Taylor, of Taylor Woodrow, apparently pledged to provide the constructional input. A model of the design was created, leaflets circulated to gather public reaction and the scheme submitted for planning consent.
The white horse would have overlooked Weston but residents there joined with Buriton Village Association and the Parish Council to oppose the idea. A petition was signed by 85% of the adult population of Weston and a poll of members of the Village Association showed that over 80% were opposed to the idea (with only one person in favour). Fortified by this strength of public opinion, the Parish Council voted unanimously against the scheme.
According to someone who was at the meeting when the proposal was presented to Hampshire County Council and other interested environmental bodies, “there was never the faintest glimmer of enthusiasm”.
Prince Michael said that if the people of Hampshire did not want the horse, then the idea would not be pursued further – and the horse limped away …