WELCOME back to a great name of the past, The Star & Garter.

It is fascinating to learn that this cornerstone of our High Street was once called The White Hart! Yes it’s true! History confirms.

Jane Marcer was the landlady of The Bell public house, which stood on the site now occupied by Poundland.

In 1772 her husband Richard changed the name of The Bell pub to The Star & Garter. Two years after his passing, widow Jane traversed the lower High Street and took over the imposing White Hart Hotel and immediately changed its name to The Star & Garter having taken the name along with her departure.

I well remember the huge badge motif that was so impressively displayed on the side wall looking straight along Winchester Street.

I would like to see that back in place.

Being one of Andover’s oldest inns it has enjoyed world famous and royal patronage down through the ages.

In 1644 inbetween leading his men and doing battle against Oliver Cromwell’s forces the tyrannical Charles I would take up residence at The Star & Garter.

“Mad” George III frequently journeyed down from London to his favourite resort of Weymouth. Half way into the tiresome journey he would rest up overnight at this old coaching inn.

Five years prior to his well recounted death Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton enjoyed Christmas there in 1800.

There are many renowned patrons, who have stayed there, including the theatrical entertainer General Tom Thumb. Circa 1860 sawhim arrive in his own miniature coach, drawn by dwarf ponies and attended by dwarf footmen.

He held a banquet in the Guildhall before adjourning to The Star & Garter.

If only we could lay our hands on the ancient, dogeared, dust-covered visitors’ books. Oh what tales they could tell!

John Porter, Millway Road, Andover