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  Columnist: Keith Pattison de Bellasis

Image credit: Mark Sebastian

The haunting of the Dolphin Hotel

Posted on Sunday, 27 April, 2014 | 6 comments
Columnist: Keith Pattison de Bellasis

Not one, but at least 6 otherworldly spectres from different ages are widely believed to be haunting the medieval Dolphin Hotel situated on the High Street of the old quarter of Southampton in Hampshire, England.

The Dolphin Hotel dates back to at least the 13th Century, with other parts reputed to date back to the 11th or 12th centuries. It was originally built for a rich merchant and then later converted to a tavern and coaching inn. Now a 4 star hotel, the list of previous landlords proudly hangs in the hotel lobby stretching back to 1432.

“Tom and the Apprentice” story:

Beneath the oldest part of the Dolphin Hotel, stalking the medieval vaults built during the early 13th century, are two ghosts. The first is an older man known as ‘Tom’ who, from the clothes he is described as wearing, was possibly a cellarman who tended the barrels of wine that have been stored there since the time the hotel was a Merchant building ( Southampton being the historic centre for imported wines from France ). Accompanying Tom in all reports is a young lad, who remains nameless, but could have been an indentured apprentice learning his trade.

Could they have been victims of the Black Death that struck down 50% of the population in medieval England, as testified by the many plague pits around Southampton and throughout Hampshire ? Was the Dolphin Hotel the place where they finally succumbed to this most dreaded of curses whilst tending to the barrels in the vaults ?

“Beau’s” story:

A somewhat corpulent gentleman described as wearing Georgian attire known as “Beau” has been reported since at least 1750 staring out of the large bay windows of the first floor assembly rooms. The rooms’ greatest claim to fame is that the renowned author Jane Austen celebrated her 18th birthday there. Although the earliest reported sighting of “Beau” pre-dates Jane Austen by some decades, it is possible that he was also attending a soiree when he was taken by some unrecorded ailment and died there. Of interest to the curious is that this phantom is often observed from the street outside of the hotel, looking out of the windows with a sad demeanour in his eyes as though he has been waiting down the centuries for a loved one to arrive.

Molly’s story:

Molly has been seen by many people over the years, but a notable sighting was made by an American Serviceman in the mid 1990s who unnervingly saw her top half gliding across his room in the new building (her lower half presumably being below the floor).

Molly was a chamber maid and like many servants would have lived in the hotel. She fell in love but that love was spurned leading her to take her own life in the old stable block of the inn.

To explain the fact that only her top half was visible it is noted that there were extensive alterations to the hotel in 1890 which saw the old stabling block demolished and replaced with new bedroom accommodations with higher ceilings than the stabling block in which she took her life.

The “Grey Lady’s” story:

Seen gliding through the first floor bedroom corridor since the latter half of the 19th century, a woman described as wearing Victorian dress is the ghost that has most often been reported by hotel guests and employees alike. Most recently in June 2004, she was seen and ‘felt’ by Kerry James, then the hotel’s marketing manager, wearing ribbons in her hair. Why does she haunt the Dolphin Hotel ? Was it her last place of sojourn in England before taking one of the many transatlantic liners to the New World or beyond?

The unknown Poltergeist’s story:

This ghost has never been sighted but makes itself known by its actions. More mischievous than threatening, it is not restricted to any specific part of the hotel and seems to find amusement in making visitations to guests by slamming doors or opening closed wardrobes in the bedrooms whilst they are sleeping.


This has been a brief history of the hauntings at the Dolphin Hotel, but what does it all mean and do such phantoms truly exist ? Are these “trapped souls” looking for release, or is their very “essence” imprinted in the fabric of the building where their owners lived and possibly died; like a recording that is eternally on “replay”?

Article Copyright© Keith Pattison de Bellasis - reproduced with permission.

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