Folkestone White Horse

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The Folkestone White Horse

The Folkestone White Horse is a white horse hill figure, carved into Cheriton Hill in the North Downs, near Folkestone in Kent. It was completed in June 2003.[1]

The horse figure overlooks the British terminal of the Channel Tunnel and was planned as a Millennium Landmark[2] to help regenerate the Folkestone area.[3] The design for the horse was drawn by a local artist, Charlie Newington, inspired by a nearby Iron Age fort in an area known as Horse Hill dating from three millennia ago[1]

Planning permission for the project was first applied for in April 1998, with an illustrative canvas mockup erected in August 1999, but the project was opposed by English Nature due to the site's importance as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.[2][4]

Construction of the horse began in September 2002. The work to build the horse was completed entirely by hand. Directed from afar by the artist via radio, a team of volunteers staked out a second canvas template of the horse, and following this, shallow trenches were then dug into the topsoil, 12–24 inches wide. These trenches were then filled with limestone slabs. The entire figure is approximately 300 feet long, measured from the front to the rear hoof.

The Green Party and Friends of the Earth appealed to the European Union to stop the project based on the site's protection under the European Habitats Directive.[2][5] The European Commission issued a formal notice in May 2003 declaring the work illegal and demanding restoration of the site, by which time however the turf for the horse had already been cut and transplanted.[6]

Nevertheless, over two weeks in May 2003 a team of volunteers including locally based Gurkha soldiers[1] transported, cut and positioned limestone slabs in the trenches, fixing them in place with pins. The limestone laying phase of the construction was completed in early June 2003, with the formal notice from the EU outstanding.[1]

In June 2004 "The Friends of the Folkestone White Horse" was formed, to promote the landmark and look after the site, which requires periodic light weeding. A time capsule was buried on the site on 18 June 2004.

See also

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Folkestone White Horse)


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Beard, Matthew (3 June 2003). "Sign of the White Horse and a Brussels cliffhanger". London: Retrieved 10 February 2009. "At daybreak tomorrow a dozen Gurkha soldiers bearing limestone slabs will put the final touches on a giant white horse cut into a hill overlooking the English Channel... As a result of a complaint by Friends of the Earth, the Government was asked by Brussels to explain the approval given in 2001 by Stephen Byers, who was then Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions. If it fails to do so and the site cannot be restored, it may be liable for fines from the European Court of Justice... The latest version was chosen by the local artist Charlie Newington because of a nearby Iron Age fort in an area known three millennia ago as Horse Hill. The horse is at the centre of a rebranding exercise by the Folkestone and Hythe District Council. The logo is on council stationery and will soon be on all council vehicles." 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "White horse may be halted". BBC News. 8 May 2003. "The white horse is due to be carved into Cheriton Hill, near Folkestone, next month as a Millennium Landmark... A spokesman for the party said Mr Armstrong-Braun had now received a letter from the Commission, telling him Cheriton Hill had been awarded protected status which would make the project illegal... English Nature objected to the planned carving when it was first proposed because it said the hill was a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). After a public inquiry in April 2001, the then secretary of state Stephen Byers ruled the project could go ahead. The work, scheduled to start in April this year, was put back to June because the Gurkhas who are to be involved in carving the figure were needed to cover the firefighters' strike. Folkestone and Hythe District Council has just chosen the White Horse as its new corporate logo — and so faces potential embarrassment if the project is halted." 
  3. "Chalk horse for entrance to UK". BBC News. 28 March 2002. Retrieved 10 February 2009. "Based on the tradition of chalk carvings dating back to ancient Celtic times, the idea is to leave a lasting reminder of England to travellers leaving for the continent... shadow chancellor Michael Howard... [stated]... that the project had "widespread support" in Folkstone... The 300ft long chalk horse was proposed as a millennium project to help regenerate the Folkestone area... Craig Bennett, of Friends of the Earth, said the site was designated for its conservation importance under the European Habitats Directive (1994)... Announcing his decision to approve the project, Mr Byers said the emotional and symbolic value of the white horse outweighed the damage which would be done to nature" 
  4. English Nature (31 July 1998). "Millennium Threat to Important Wildlife Site". Press release. Retrieved 10 February 2009. 
  5. "Europe says UK white horse illegal". BBC News. 13 May 2003. Retrieved 10 February 2009. 
  6. Friends of the Earth (13 May 2003). "Giant white horse illegal claims Brussels". Press release. Retrieved 10 February 2009. 

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