A historic chalk figure carved into the Dorset Hillside is disappearing because conservationists have been unable to keep up maintenance during the coronavirus pandemic.
The 320ft Osmington White Horse was carved more than 200 years ago in tribute to King George III, who often visited the town of Weymouth nearby.
The landmark requires yearly spraying and maintenance to stop weed growth and retain shape but, because of Covid-19, the work scheduled annually for March was cancelled in 2020.
Annual maintenance work on the carving was postponed in March 2020 due to the Coronavirus pandemic
The figure, which depicts King George III riding his charger Adonis, was cut into the hills in 1808 but today, just a faint outline can be seen.
According to local legend, the King was so offended by the carving, because it shows him riding away from Weymouth rather than towards it, he never returned.
It has been restored twice since it was originally carved into the Dorset hills; once in 1989 for a broadcast of the TV show starring Anneka Rice, and again in 2012 to mark the London Olympic Games.
Challenge Anneka was criticised at the time when the team added the wrong colour stone to the monument in one of the episodes.
The landmark image in Dorset has faded into the background of the hills due to lack of maintenance
The second restoration was completed in March 2012 after two years of work by local volunteers. The unveiling of a new plaque, made of local stone, was attended by Princess Anne, The Princess Royal.
Over the years, the monument seen its fair share of practical jokes, with pranksters adding a horn made from plastic sheeting in 2011 which made the horse resemble a unicorn.
Dorset Councillor is responsible for the maintenance of the landmark, but according to Councillor Nick Ireland, it has not been possible to carry out work in the last year.
George III and his love affair with Weymouth
King George III first came to know Weymouth through Dr John Crane. In 1788, the King became mentally unstable, causing the Regency Crisis.
Dr Crane was a huge advocate of the benefits of sea air, and felt that drinking sea water could cure most ailments. He quickly recommended his hometown of Weymouth to the King.
The King visited in June 1789 and the whole trip was a huge success. Queen Charlotte declared that the King was much improved.
‘This is now an ad-hoc agreement, but realistically there is nobody else who could do it,’ he said.
‘I’ve had to chase this in the past and did so last year but, as far as I’m aware, disappointingly nothing was done in 2020.
‘The project to restore the monument took a lot of volunteer time and effort plus not unsubstantial funds. We need to keep it looking as good as it was when under the spotlight during the 2012 Olympics.’
Dorset Council has been approached for comment.