Weymouth-Dorset.co.uk Local History

 King George III and Weymouth

King George the third, King of England 1760-1820

King George III

George the third was the first Hanoverian monarch to be born in England. Born at Norfolk House, London on 4th June 1738 the son of Frederick, Prince of Wales and Augusta of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, he succeeded the throne in 1760 on the death of his grandfather, George II. He met Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz at about 3pm on 8th September 1761 and married her six hours later at the Chapel Royal, St. James's Palace. He was crowned King less than two weeks later on 21st September at Westminster Abbey.

George, even as King, was a man of his people and would often engage in conversations with the farmers of wherever he happened to be. He had a strong interest in agriculture and helped with the running of his own farms at Windsor and Richmond. When he visited the West Country, where agriculture was the way of life for most, he did likewise there. He became a very popular king and was greatly respected.

There were many turbulent times during George's reign. Not least was the unrest caused in the American colonies when George's Prime Minister, Lord North, tried to impose taxes on the colonists in 1765. The colonists not wishing to be under British rule, without representation in parliament, revolted. The American war of Independence broke out, the Declaration of Independence from British rule was declared in 1776 and freedom finally won in 1783.

The King's health was not very robust and in 1788 he suffered his first attack of porphyria. Recovering from this bout of illness, King George made his first visit to Weymouth in 1789. The benefits of the salt water of the sea were being extolled by the physicians of the day.

Using one of the first bathing machines, George took a dip in the bay. The bathing machines were designed as mobile changing rooms and could be wheeled into the water to allow discreet entry into the sea. As George emerged from the water, a band played "God Save the King".

Weymouth was much enjoyed by the King and after a few vacations taken here, he purchased Gloucester Lodge on the Esplanade from his brother the Duke of Gloucester. This was to become his holiday home whenever he visited Weymouth. Gloucester Lodge eventually became a hotel and suffered a fire in 1927. After the fire another floor was added to the top of the building and the porch was built at the front. Gloucester Lodge is now converted to luxury apartments, the views from which are delightful.

Gloucester Lodge, Seafront, Weymouth, Dorset, England

Gloucester Lodge, Weymouth Seafront

King George established Weymouth as a major seaside resort. With its soft, golden sands and sheltered bay it became George's favourite place to be. Before long, Weymouth had visitors rich and famous flocking to the resort and others along the Dorset coast.

The carving of a chalk figure of a horse and rider in the hillside above Osmington overlooking Weymouth bay is said to depict that of King George. Created around 1808, the king was said to be dismayed that it was in the direction of going away from Weymouth. However, 1805 saw the last visit of George to the town.

A monument by way of a statue of George III was erected in 1810 at the junction of the two main streets of the town, St. Mary Street and St. Thomas Street. It remains to this day on an island in the middle of the road along the seafront, a permanent reminder of what Royalty did for Weymouth.

The statue of King George III standing by the seafront at the junction of St. Mary and St. Thomas Street, Weymouth, Dorset

The junction of St. Mary Street and St. Thomas Street with the statue in the centre

Statue of King George the third, known as the King's Statue

By 1811 the king's health had deteriorated so much that his son George was created Prince Regent. King George III died at Windsor Castle on 29th January 1820 aged 81.

 

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George III and Weymouth

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All photographs on this page are my own, with the exception of George III who was not available, and I therefore hold the copyright. Please respect this and if you wish to copy any of them or use them elsewhere, please ask permission first.