On the hoof

Meet Prissy, a life-size Gypsy cob horse forged in steel by artist blacksmith Jake Bowers, as part of National Trust’s Changing Chalk project, which celebrates the contribution of diverse communities to the South Downs landscape.

For many hundreds of years Gypsies and Travellers have lived, worked and travelled in the South Downs, contributing their bit to one of the most beautiful of British landscapes. Yet look closely and evidence for that past is almost impossible to see.

So, throughout the Spring and Summer of 2023 artist blacksmith Jake Bowers and scores of community members set to work to make a permanent and powerful reminder of that presence as part of the National Trust’s Changing Chalk Project. Their sculpture of a life-sized Gypsy cob will soon find a permanent home in the downs.

“The measurements for the sculpture came from a real-life model – Winnie, the much-loved horse owned by my sister Priscilla Bowers. By taking this lovely mare’s vital statistics we had a life-sized model to that could be made steel,” says Jake.

“After the framework and legs were welded firmly on, we decided it was time to take Priscilla, Queen of the South, as she had become known, on a nationwide tour so that members of our community, the public and public sector workers could each forge part of her massive mane, feathery feet and tail.”

The sculpture was taken on a 1000-mile tour throughout Britain from the National Trust’s property at Devil’s Dyke in the South Downs, via Appleby Fair in Cumbria and the Tilford Rural Life Centre in Surrey.

If you want to be involved, get in touch with Jake Bowers on 07966 786242 Changing Chalk is a multi-partner, multi-project initiative led by the National Trust. Its aim is to restore lost habitats, bring histories to life, and provide new experiences in the outdoors.

This installation is currently hosted at the University of Sussex as part of the National Trust’s ‘Changing Chalk’ project, which is a landscape-scale partnership connecting nature, people and heritage on and around the South Downs. It is supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund and The Linbury Trust

For more information on the Changing Chalk Partnership please visit: