In 1789, having recovered from an acute attack of what could have been porphyria, King George III journeyed to Weymouth for the first time to take in the benefits of the sea air and salt water, which were thoroughly recommended by physicians of the day.

The King was accompanied by Queen Charlotte and their three eldest princesses.

The symptoms of porphyria were said to include aches and pains, as well as blue urine and this became the basis of the film, The Madness of King George which featured the actor Nigel Hawthorne in the title role. (It has since been established that George III did actually suffer from mental illness.)

En route to Weymouth, the regal travellers were to have taken a scheduled break at the White Hart Hotel in St John Street, Salisbury, but it seems that on their arrival things did not go according to plan and the Royal Family members remained seated in their horse-drawn carriages.

A printed account of the event tells the story… ‘a grand triumphal arch was erected near the White Hart, and the Woolcombers, Weavers, Taylors, and all other Trade Companies of the City, characteristically dressed, with banners and bands, had assembled to welcome the Royal party.

In the excessively loyalty which the citizens displayed, such a prodigious crowd pressed round the door of the White Hart, that it was impossible for their Majesties to alight and breakfast, as they had intended; they therefore changed horses and passed on to Woodyates Inn, where they were genteelly entertained and accommodated by Mrs Shergold, at very short notice’.

There are no known pictures of the failed visit, but we can produce a White Hart Hotel trade card from over a hundred years ago which clearly shows what a prestigious status the hotel has enjoyed for centuries past.