About Westbury


Westbury is a town and civil parish in the west of the English county of Wiltshire. THe Westbury White Horse is nearby. The most likely origin of the West- in Westbury is simply that the town is near the western edge of the county of Wiltshire, the bounds of which have been much the same since the Anglo-Saxon period. The -bury part of the name is a form of borough, which has cognates in many languages, such as the German -burg and the Greek -pyrgos. It carries the idea of a hill or fortified town. In Wiltshire, -bury often indicates an Iron Age or Bronze Age fortified hill fort, and such a site is to be found immediately above the Westbury White Horse.

Westbury is located in the far west of Wiltshire, close to the border with Somerset. It lies at the northwestern edge of Salisbury Plain, 18 miles (29 km) southeast of the city of Bath, approximately 5 miles (8.0 km) south of the county town of Trowbridge[2] and 4.5 miles (7.2 km) north of the garrison town of Warminster. Other nearby towns and cities include Frome, Devizes, Salisbury and Bristol. Nearby villages include Bratton, Chapmanslade, Dilton Marsh, Hisomley, Edington, Upton Scudamore, North Bradley, Rudge, Standerwick, Hawkeridge, Heywood and Yarnbrook.

There are several suburbs including Frogmore, Bitham Park, the Meads and the Ham (all northside), Chalford, Leigh Park and Westbury Leigh (southside). Westbury Leigh is generally considered as a village separate to Westbury itself, though it has become contiguous with the town. Bodmans came from both Wiltshire town itself and Leigh.

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 north western 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 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 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. 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, a 16th-century clock with no face constructed by a local blacksmith, and a marble bust of William Phipps by Robert Taylor. The west window of the church was donated by Abraham Laverton, who also built Prospect Square (1869) and the nearby Laverton Institute (1873), which he donated to a local charity, known today as “the Laverton”.

Until the 1940s, the Westbury Sheep Fair was an important annual event.