History of the Dolphin Hotel, Southampton

The Dolphin Hotel, Southampton is a true historical gem. The building in which the hotel resides was originally constructed in 1250, and began housing a hotel in 1550. For nearly 500 years this hotel has been a centerpiece in central Southampton. The Dolphin proudly boasts of being the areas oldest inn.

Southampton is a picturesque medieval town that, even today, draws many visitors from near and far. Many historical figures have made their home or vacation spot in Southampton, most staying at The Dolphin Hotel. One of the most famous patrons of the Dolphin was Jane Austen. It is documented that the ball held for her 18th birthday was in the ballroom at The Dolphin, and that she and her family frequented the hotel for dinning and pleasure. The arrangements for the Austen Ball were made by the mother of famed nurse, Florence Nightingale.


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Other famous figures that selected The Dolphin Hotel for their accommodations were: HRH Queen Victoria, Lord Nelson, Orson Wells and author William Thackeray. It is said that Lord Nelson loved The Dolphin so much that he still returns their in his ghostly form. The Dolphin is stated to have the largest bay window in all of England. While unknown if this is actually true, it is here in that Dolphin bay window that William Thackeray wrote his novel Pendennis. Shakespeare and his performers played in the yard of the Inn many times during his illustrious career. Through the years the hotel has been a gathering place for the well-to-do as well as the foreign traveler.

Perhaps the most notable guest to reside at The Dolphin is Molly. Molly is one of the six resident ghosts said to roam the older parts of the establishment. Ghost enthusiasts enjoy trying to capture images of the haunting figures, but so far only a couple of “indistinguishable orbs of light” have been photographed.

The hotel has undergone many changes throughout the years. As time has passed, many upgrades have been added to this historical Inn. However, the charm has not been compromised. Evidence of the buildings original structure is still noticeable and appreciated. It is truly a work of art throughout its hallways and rooms.

The Dolphin has recently been refurbished and renewed again. The new owner is dedicated to maintaining the historical integrity of the 90 room hotel. Remodeling and refurbishing has been done carefully to preserve the hotels heritage, while providing guests all the creature comforts associated with 4 star accommodations.

Copyright Gordon Bright 2009 All Rights Reserved