IT'S always good to hear from Portland historian Stuart Morris, who has shared his wealth of knowledge with us over the years.

Stuart wants to verify the date of the formation of the White Horse on Osmington Hill, Weymouth, after some speculation.

This follows on from a recent article we published based upon an extract from a diary written by Elizabeth Pearce, which claims that the horse was created in two years earlier than the accepted date of 1808. Elizabeth wrote that she was out on a walk in October 1806 and saw the following:

"And then my eyes turned slowly round, from the Nothe to Preston Hill, to King George, our Royal Manor's Lord, God bless him, clean-cut and clear in the chalk, standing out from the bright green bed of turfs."

Stuart got in touch to say: "Unfortunately the information given in the book Old Portland by Jean Edwards and Rodney Legg is not reliable. (It’s a lovely read, but historical facts are embellished with speculative fiction).

"The White Horse was definitely created in 1808 and not before. I have verified this with various contemporary accounts, including newspapers.

"The event attracted national interest as articles appeared in no less than 15 papers from all over the country.

"For example, the Bristol Mirror 15th October, 1808 said:

“An equestrian figure of his Majesty has lately been formed in chalk on Osmington hills, the property of Mr. Wood, opposite the bay of Weymouth. Although its length is 280, and its height 320 feet, yet the likeness of the King is well preserved, and the symmetry of the horse is complete. It forms a novel and pleasing object to the pedestrians the Esplanade, but more especially those who are fond of water excursions, as from the Bay its view is more complete. It has been carried into effect under the direction of Mr. Wood, bookseller, at the particular request and sole expense of John Rainier, Esq. brother the late Admiral.”

"Credit was also given to celebrated Weymouth Architect James Hamilton “under whose guidance it has been executed”."

Stuart added that the 1808 date has also been confirmed by numerous historians over the years, including Professor Ronald Good (Weyland, 1944), and the late Doug Hollings (Weymouth Esplanade 2002).

He added: "Incidentally, although much research went into the re-cutting of the figure in recent years, from early descriptions and illustrations I believe the original shape of both horse and rider was much more lifelike than the rather pinched and distorted outline we see today."

Thanks to Stuart for clearing that one and provided rather conclusive evidence that the horse's creation was October 1808, not earlier!