- Westbury, Wiltshire
infobox UK place
country = England
region= South West England
Westbury is a
townand civil parish(population 11,135 in the 2001 census) in the west of the English county of Wiltshire, most famous for the Westbury White Horse.
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. For a fuller explanation, see borough. In Wiltshire, "-bury" often indicates an Iron Ageor Bronze Agefortified hill fort, and such a site is to be found immediately above the Westbury White Horse.
Westbury is located 18
miles (29 km) south east of the city of Bath and about 4 miles (6.5 km) south of Trowbridge. Other nearby towns and cities include Bristol, Frome, Salisbury, Swindon, and Warminster. Nearby villages include Bratton, Chapmanslade, Dilton Marsh, Edington, North Bradley, Rudge, Standerwick, Semington, West Ashtonand Upton Scudamore.
The town is an important junction point on the railway network, as it lies at the point where the main line railway from
Londonto the Exeterand the West Countryintersects the cross country line from South Wales, Bristol, Bath and Chippenham to Salisbury, Southampton, Portsmouthand Brighton.
Features and history
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 King Alfred the Greatover the Danesin 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 Westbury White Horsebefore 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. In recent years, there has been a multitude of calls to clean or paint the "old grey mare" and such a renovation began in May 2006.
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 Market Place, with the churchyard of All Saints' Church (fourteenth century) behind it. All Saints' boasts the third heaviest
ring of bellsin the world, an Erasmus Bibleand a sixteenth century clock with no face constructed by a local blacksmith.
The town has been home to the
Army Officer Selection Board, located at Leighton House, since 1949.
In the early part of September 1877 there was found on Bremeridge farm, in the parish of Westbury, Wilts, belonging to
Charles Paul Phipps, esq. of Chalcot, a hoard of 32 gold coins. They were found during repairs and improvements of the homestead, about a foot and a half below the surface, in the courtyard, piled, one above another, without any appearance of a purse or box. [http://treasurehunting.tv/?p=25 Coin Hoard Article]
The most significant local government functions (including schools, roads, social services, waste disposal and emergency planning) are carried out by Wiltshire County Council. Together with the neighbouring village of
Dilton Marsh, Westbury is divided into two county council divisions, each electing one member. At the elections in May 2005, one Independent, Christopher Newbury, and one Conservative, Miss Fleur de Rhé-Philipe, were returned. Prior to 2005, Westbury had elected only one county councillor and had returned Newbury as an Independent since 1997.
The town also falls within the area of West Wiltshire District Council, which deals with housing and leisure services, development control, refuse collection and street cleaning. At the last district elections in May 2007, it elected five members, of whom two are Conservatives, two Liberal Democrats, and one Independent.
Westbury is a civil parish with an elected town council of sixteen members. This has an almost wholly consultative and ceremonial role, and the chairman of the town council has the title of Mayor of Westbury.
Representation in Parliament
Westbury was formerly a
rotten borough, which led to gifts from the owners of the parliamentary borough, including the magnificent Town Hall in the Market Place donated by Sir Manasseh Massey Lopes.
At present the town falls within the Westbury parliamentary constituency and is represented by Andrew Murrison M.P., but as a result of boundary changes it will form part of the new constituency of South West Wiltshire, with effect from the next General Election.
Members of Parliament for Westbury
* Richard Chaloner (1895-1900) Conservative
Geoffrey William Algernon Howard(1911–1918) Liberal
George Llewellen Palmer(1918-1922) Coalition Conservative
* Charles Darbishire (1922-1924) Liberal
* Captain W. W. Shaw (1924-1927) Unionist
* Major Richard Long (1927-1931) Conservative
* Sir Robert Grimston (1931–1964) Conservative
* Sir Dennis Walters (1964–1992) Conservative
* David Faber (1992–2001) Conservative
* Dr Andrew Murrison (2001– ) Conservative
Westbury currently has one secondary school, two primary schools, a junior school and an infants school.
Matravers SchoolThe secondary school, Matravers School, is designated a specialist Arts and Technology college. It has a sixth form offering a range of subjects. It serves both the community of Westbury and several of the surrounding villages, including Chapmanslade, Bratton, Dilton Marsh and Edington.
*Westbury Leigh School [http://www.westburyleigh.wilts.sch.uk/] is a primary school serving mainly the Leigh Park estate.
*Bitham Brook School [http://www.bithambrook.wilts.sch.uk/] is a primary school mainly serving the western part of the town.
*Westbury C of E Junior School serves the central part of the town and takes children from Year 3 to Year 6.
*Westbury Infants School [http://www.westbury-inf.wilts.sch.uk/] is the feeder school for the above and takes children from Reception to Year 2.
Westbury is served by its own weekly free newspaper, the [http://www.whitehorsenews.co.uk White Horse News] , named after the famous and defining feature on the edge of the town. The newspaper is free and delivered to all homes in the town and the surrounding villages of Bratton,
Dilton Marshand Edington, amongst others. Westbury is also served by the popular weekly the Wiltshire Times, and a radio station, 3TR FM.
Notable Westbury residents
Arthur Merric Boyd
Ruth May Fox
Alexander Heriot Mackonochie
Charles Paul Phipps
John Lewis Phipps
Charles Nicholas Paul Phipps
William Austin Zeal
List of places in Wiltshire
List of civil parishes in England
List of towns in England
Richard Bethell, 1st Baron Westbury
* [http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/community/getcom2.php?id=240 Wiltshire County Council Website page on Westbury] , retrieved 18:50 Oct 29, 2004 (UTC)
* [http://www.thisiswestbury.co.uk ThisisWestbury.co.uk: Westbury's history website]
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/wiltshire/content/image_galleries/historic_westbury_photos_gallery1.shtml Historic Westbury photos] at [http://www.bbc.co.uk/wiltshire BBC Wiltshire]
* [http://www.treasurehunting.tv/?p=25 Coin Hoard Article and Photos]
* [http://www.westbury-wilts-bypass.info All about a Westbury bypass]
* [http://www.bypassnow.info Westbury Bypass NOW!]
* [http://www.westburytownforums.com Westbury Town Forum]
* [http://www.westburytownforums.co.uk Westbury Town Forums v4]
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