|One of the earliest references to the Dolphin is found in a document
of 1454, but it certainly existed before then. 'Le Dolphin' can be shown
to correspond with the south part of the modern Dolphin Hotel. It was
often frequented by foreign merchants, and Italian seaman, whose ships
were anchored in the harbour. Public entertainment was a regular feature
of the Elizabethan period, and the yard at the Dolphin was a regular
venue. Town records show payments being made to minstrels and other
|Many alterations have been made over the centuries, so it is not
surprising that Molly, one of the hotel's six resident ghosts, walks the
corridors with her legs below floor level. Remnants of the original
medieval timbers, and stone vault remain within the core of the
|The Dolphin had been a famous coaching inn since the 17th century.
However, it was during Southampton's Spa-town period of 1750- 1820 that
it also became a fashionable social centre for those who came to take
the waters, both by bathing on the western shore, and by drinking the
health-giving chalybeate spring. In 1768, Collyer's 'machines' regularly
ran between London and Southampton leaving the Dolphin at 5.45 o'clock
in the morning. The fare was 16 shillings for insiders and 10 shillings
for outsiders. It was in the late 18th. century that the Dolphin was
substantially rebuilt with its handsome Georgian front, coaching
entrance, and magnificent bow windows, which are believed to be the
biggest in England.
|The Dolphin was patronised by the 'nobility and gentry' and
occasionally by royalty. Most famous guests include Admiral Lord Nelson,
and Jane Austen celebrated her 18th. birthday there in 1793. Jane Austen
lived in Southampton between the years 1806-1809. At this time the
winter assemblies were being held at the Dolphin Hotel, once a fortnight
on Tuesdays. It was at one of these functions in that Jane Austen
scornfully commented that she regretted, " That so many young women were
without partners, and each of them with two ugly naked shoulders."
|As well as being a coaching in and venue for the winter assemblies,
the Dolphin also contained genteel shops, and a subscription coffee room
called Brimyard's, where gentlemen could read both national and local
newspapers. William Makepeace Thackary, an astute observer of human
behaviour, wrote part of his novel, 'Pendennis', while sitting in the
Dolphin's magnificent bow windows. Another guest who frequented the inn
was Edward Gibbon, the historian, while serving as a major in the
|In WW2, the Dolphin narrowly escaped destruction by enemy bombers. A
bell-boy later described how he heard the church bells of the adjacent
Holy Rood ring-out as the church was consumed in fire.
|The Dolphin is closely associated with the history of Southampton.
This wonderful hotel has recently been refurbished and renewed again.