White Horse Street, hill figures, and a dragon

thestreetnames

John Rocque, one of London’s most famous cartographers, had a print shop near White Horse Street in Mayfair. The street takes its name from a royal emblem used in tavern signs; this was from the royal house of Hanover, which adopted a galloping white horse, dating from the accession of George I in 1714. The sign itself, however, was in use long before that as the emblem of ancient Saxons and, later, the emblem of Kent.

There are several chalk figures – mainly horses – in the UK, carved into hillsides; although they are not uncommon, only a handful have been dated before 1700. One of the oldest (possibly the oldest) and most famous is in the Vale of the White Horse at Uffington in Oxfordshire.

The age of this horse is uncertain: it was once said to commemorate the victory of King Alfred over the Danes in 871, but…

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