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‘Mad King George’ & a Wooden Leg.

King George III’s favourite holiday destination was Weymouth. Recovering from an ‘attack of madness’, he was advised that ‘taking the water’ was good for the health. During one of his worst moments, it is said, he shook hands with an oak tree believing it was the King of Prussia. Sea bathing was reckoned to be a cure for melancholy, gout and for ‘bad attacks of the worms.’

His first visit to the town in 1789 caused quite a stir but also a problem of etiquette for the Mayor of Weymouth.

Advancing to kiss the Queen’s hand, Colonel Gwynn, a member of the King’s court, whispered: ‘You must kneel sir!’

 Unfortunately, the Mayor took no notice of this advice and standing upright kissed the Queen’s hand. 

The Colonel commented, ‘You should have knelt, sir!’                                                  

‘Sir’, answered the poor Mayor. ‘I cannot…for I have a wooden leg!’

The King bathed  in the sea emerging every day naked from his octagonal bathing machine. Specially created for the Monarch, it had the regal coat of arms above the door. He was met by female attendants who wore bonnets that read, ‘God Save the King.’ No-one was allowed to bathe near him. Apparently, every time he re-emerged from the sea, a band would start playing ‘God save the King.’ 

His visits to the town made Weymouth one of the most popular destinations at the time for the country’s gentry. The Government would regularly visit the Monarch when he was in Weymouth. The King visited Weymouth many times over a 16 year period. He died in 1820.

(Source: Fanny Burney 1798.)


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