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Westbury, Wiltshire facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Westbury old town hall.JPG
Old town hall
Population 14,709 (in 2011)
OS grid reference ST868511
Unitary authority
  • Wiltshire
Ceremonial county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town WESTBURY
Postcode district BA13
Dialling code 01373
Police Wiltshire
Fire Wiltshire
Ambulance Great Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK Parliament
  • South West Wiltshire
List of places
WiltshireCoordinates: 51°15′36″N 2°11′28″W / 51.260°N 2.191°W / 51.260; -2.191

Westbury is a town and civil parish 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. 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 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. Leigh Park is a district developed since the late-1990s that is contiguous with Westbury Leigh, and incorporates a large medical centre, a community hall and a Tesco Express store.

Features and history

All Saints' Westbury
All Saints' Church
Chalk Horse
Westbury White Horse viewed from the hillside

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 northwestern 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".

In the early part of September 1877, there was found on Bremeridge Farm, in the parish of Dilton Marsh, Wilts, belonging to Charles Paul Phipps, esq. of Chalcot House, 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.

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

The town has been home to the Army Officer Selection Board and the Cadet Force Commissioning Board, located at Leighton House, since 1949; its closure was announced in 2016.

A former Lafarge cement production plant lies about 1.3 miles (2.1 km) northeast of the town centre; production ceased in 2009 but the site remains in use as a distribution centre. From 1961 until its demolition in 2016, the plant's 400 feet (120 m) chimney was the tallest unsupported structure in southwestern England.

Sport and leisure

Westbury has a Non-League football club Westbury United F.C. who play at the Meadow Lane ground in the Western League Division One (English football's tenth tier). The non-league Rugby Football Club (RFC), Westbury RFC, has both male and female teams who play at White Horse Country Park.

The Leighton sports field at Wellhead Lane was laid out as a cricket field by the mill-owning Lavertons. In 1890 W. G. Grace played in W. H. Laverton's XI against a team called the Australians.


Road transport

Westbury First 66945
A First Somerset and Avon bus on route 264 (Bath to Warminster) picks up a passenger at the railway station

The A350 road passes through the town and a controversial Westbury Bypass was once proposed which would have reduced traffic in parts of the town but would have had a negative effect on the landscape on the east of the town. The eastern bypass scheme was eventually rejected after an Independent Planning Inquiry recommended against it in 2009. The town remains a bottleneck on the A350 route.

Railway transport

The town is an important junction point on the railway network, as it lies at the point where the Reading to Taunton line, formng a link from London Paddington to Penzance, intersects the Wessex Main Line, linking Bristol and Bath Spa to Salisbury and Southampton. Westbury railway station is on the west of the town.

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