During the last three hundred years that have been several royal visits to Bath. Queen Elizabeth I came in 1574, on one of her progresses through the western counties. In 1688 Princess Anne, later to become Queen Anne, visited the city, and returned with her husband, Prince George of Denmark, in 1692; they lodged at the old Abbey Church House, which stood just to the south of the Abbey, and was demolished in 1755.
Anne was seriously affected by gout throughout her life, and at her coronation in 1702, she had to be carried to Westminster Abbey by Yeomen of the Guard. Later that same year she came again to Bath with her husband, hoping to gain some relief from a course of the waters. The royal party was met outside the city by a mobile guard of honour, consisting of grenadiers and ‘two hundred virgins, richly attired like Amazons with bows and arrows’ and ‘all of the them with a set of dancers who danced by the side of her Majesty’s coach, and waited upon her Majesty to the West Gate of the city, where they were received by the Mayor and corporation in their formalities’. On that occasion Queen Anne performed the ceremony of ‘touching for the King’s Evil’; thirty poor people suffering for scrofula were touched on the neck by the Queen, in the belief that a cure would follow. She was the last English monarch to perform this ceremony. Macaulay, writing about the custom many years later, remarked that ‘there is nothing more credulous than misery’. Her gout, unfortunately, was not assuaged. But there can be no doubt that her patronage of Bath in 1702 and 1703 was chiefly responsible for the remarkable increase in the number of fashionable visitors to the city during the years that followed.