the history of yeovil's pubs





dolphin inn

Belmont / Park Street


The Dolphin Inn was in Park Street which was laid out and built by Peter Daniell between 1825 and 1834 in the grounds of his Penn House grounds, so the Dolphin Inn building dates from after this time. It was first recorded in 1835 and was a beerhouse, created in the wake of the Beerhouse Act 1830.

There is very little information on the Dolphin Inn, other than it was later widely recognised as one of the multitude of Park Street pubs and had a really quick turnaround of licensees.

The notice of sale (from 1907, after the license had been refused), described the accommodation of the house as follows "Containing on the ground floor four rooms, on the first floor four rooms, and in the basement four rooms, adjoining are two outhouses, WC and a yard. The premises are very roomy, well adapted for the purposes for which they have been used for many years, viz, a general and grocery shop and lodging house."

The Dolphin still had its beerhouse license in 1906, at which time it was owned by Mitchell, Toms & Co of Chard, but the Western Daily Press reported on the meeting of the Somerset County Licensing Committee in its edition of 19 October 1906 "The Dolphin Inn, Park Street, beerhouse, licensee Amos Bowditch, owner Mitchell, Toms & Co Ltd, Chard.... After hearing evidence on both sides, the committee retired to consider their decision, which on their return they announced.... with regard to the Dolphin Inn, the license is refused." With the Licensing Act of 1904 (the Balfour Act) the intention of the government was to reduce the number of licensed premises and the standard of those remaining to be improved. To achieve this the grounds on which a license could be refused were extended. The justices could now refer cases which they considered to be outside their remit to the quarter sessions who could refuse licenses on almost any grounds, including the fact of there being more premises than required to suit the needs of custom. The act made provision for compensation of licensees deprived of their licenses based on the difference in value between the the house having a license and the value without one. The Western Daily Press reported on the meeting of the Somerset County Licensing Committee in its edition of 4 January 1907 ".... The Committee then determined the persons entitled to compensation in the following cases.... Dolphin Inn, Yeovil: Licensee, Amos Bowditch; owners, Mitchell, Toms & Co Ltd; compensation, £1,749 3s."

The Dolphin Inn was put up for sale in 1907 (see sale notice below) together with three adjoining cottages. Amos Bowditch bought the ex-inn for £260 (about £150,000 at today's value) and Mr Watts bought the three cottages for £240.

The Dolphin became one of the two 20th century lodging houses in Park Street (the other being the Cross Keys) - Leslie Brooke noted that the Dolphin "became a doss-house in the 1930's". The building that had once been the Dolphin Inn was demolished, along with nearly all of Park Street's buildings, in the 1960's.



The first licensee of the Dolphin Inn, John Hamblin, was one of many beerhouse keepers that had another trade or business, in this case it was the most common combination of grocer and beer retailer. It appears to have been common for small grocery shops to have a barrel of ale and a couple of chairs in one corner of the shop. John was born in Yeovil around 1810 and is first recorded as licensee in Robson's Somerset Directory of 1840. He appears with his wife, Hannah, in both the 1841 and 1851 censuses living in Belmont and is described in both as a grocer and beer retailer. They had no children. Hannah died in the summer of 1860 and by the time of the 1861 census John had moved to Rotten Row (today's Market Street), with a housekeeper, where his occupation was described as grocer. At this time Reckleford was the name of today's Market Street and Rotten Row was an alternative, more colloquial, name. In 1866 he was listed in the Post Office Directory as the licensee of the Nag's Head in Reckleford and was listed as a beer retailer and grocer.

William Cross was born around 1810 in Nine Elms, Wandsworth, London and his wife Jane, some 15 years his junior was born in Chippenham, Wiltshire. In the 1851 census the couple were listed as living in Bedminster, Bristol, where William was a Railway Policemen. He is noted just once as a beer house keeper at the Dolphin Inn in the 1861 census. Jane died in early 1869 in Yeovil but I could find no further trace of William.

The next licensee, Robert Bennett, was mentioned in the 7 September 1866 issue of the Western Gazette as follows "Robert Bennett, of the Dolphin Inn, was summoned for selling beer at improper hours on 29 August. Sergeant Holwell proved that about twenty minutes before one he found several persons in the house drinking. Defendant said all the people in the house were friends of his, who he had invited to take supper with him. Fined 10s including costs."

In September 1869 James Baulch "of the Dolphin Park Street" was summoned under the new Beerhouse Act for having his house open for the sale of drink during prohibited hours, on Sunday 8 August. He was fined £1.

Thomas Morgan was born in Beaminster, Dorset, around 1825. In the 1841 census he was living with his widowed mother, Susannah, and three siblings in Beaminster. By the time of the 1851 census he was living with his older brother, John, and his small family in Beaminster. Thomas' occupation was given as carpenter & joiner journeyman. He was still a carpenter in Beaminster ten years later but by this time he was married to Ellen. In 1871, of course, as seen below he was the licensee of the Dolphin Inn in Belmont, listed in the census as a carpenter & innkeeper, with Ellen who was described as a milliner. It is not known how long Thomas was licensee of the Dolphin but he was another one-reference landlord since by the following census he and Ellen were living in Lambeth, London.

Although the 1881 census lists William Harding as the licensee of the Dolphin Inn, in the column indication his birthplace is stakes 'NK' for not known. However William was actually born in Ilchester, the son of plasterer William Harding and his wife, Catherine. In the 1871 census William, listed as a plasterer and slater, was aged 39, single and living with his parents in Ilchester. Five years on and he was listed as the licensee of the Dolphin in Kelly's Directory of 1875 and five years further on was still a plasterer and slater but had added innkeeper to his list of occupations. He had also gained a wife, Jane, who was born in Seaton, Devon. William was listed as a beer retailer in Kelly's Directory of 1889, but by 1891 William, now just a slater and plasterer, had given up the license of the Dolphin Inn, although he and Jane were still living in Park Street, at Belmont Cottage.

Henry Spearing was licensee of the Oxford Inn for over thirty years. He was born in Hardington Mandeville, five miles southwest of Yeovil, the son of farm labourer Henry Spearing and his glover wife, Harriett. In 1871 Henry was living with his parents and five siblings in Barry Lane, Hardington, and the only thing that changed in the next ten years was that the family moved to Hill End, Hardington. In July 1890 Henry married Elizabeth Carletta Hawker of Odcombe and in the 1891 census Henry and Elizabeth were running the Dolphin Inn in Park Street. 24-year old Henry was employed as a gardener and, presumably, ran the pub in the evenings while Elizabeth managed it during the day. At this time they also had four lodgers. In 1895 Kelly's Directory listed Henry as licensee of the Oxford Inn where he lived with Elizabeth, their two daughters; Lily and Ivy, and baby son Reginald. Henry appeared as licensee in a range of trade directories through the following years and was still licensee of the Oxford Inn when he died on 16 January 1927 aged 63. Probate was granted to Elizabeth with the effects totaling £798 14s 4d.

The next licensee, John Hawkins, was listed in Kelly's Directory of 1895 but it is not possible to glean any details from the censuses as there were at least four men called John Hawkins living in Yeovil at the time and it is not possible to distinguish one from another as none were publicans either before or after 1895.

It is just the opposite situation with G Bowditch, other than the 1898 mention in the Yeovil Directory listed below, I could find no further information. It was a similar situation with the following licensee, Andrew Mason McCouchie - I was surprised that with such a distinctive name that I could find no further information.

It was, sadly, a similar situation with Amos Bowditch. I found him in the 1901 census with his wife, Gertrude, and their daughter, Ethel, who had been born about 1897 in Enfield, North London. According to the census Amos was born in Morcombe, Dorset and Gertrude hailed from Lyme Regis. But most interesting of all, a note in the address column in the census stated "83 Park Street, Dolphin Inn - Common Lodging House" and for the first time there were lodgers at the Dolphin - eleven of them!




An item from the 2 October 1885 edition of the Western Gazette. The landlord in question, although not named in the report, was William Harding.


The notice of sale of the Dolphin Inn in the Western Gazette's edition of 6 December 1907.




1835 – Licensee not named (Robson's 1835 Somerset Directory) listed as Dolphin, Park Street
1840 – John Hamblin (Robson's 1840 Somerset Directory) listed as Dolphin, Park Street
1842 – John Hamblen – Retailer of Beer (Pigot’s 1842-4 Directory)
1850 – John Hamblin – Beer Retailer (Hunt & Co 1850 Directory) listed as Belmont
1851 – John Hamblin – Grocer & Beer Retailer (1851 census) not named
1852 – John Hamblin - Retailer of Beer (Slater's 1852 Directory) in Park Street
1859 – William Cross – Spirit license refused (Petty Sessions) as Chough’s Tap
1860 – William Cross – Spirit license refused (Petty Sessions)
1861 – William Cross – Beer House Keeper (1861 census) listed as Dolphin Inn
1861 – William Cross – Beer Retailer and Shopkeeper (Kelly's 1861 Directory)
1866 – Robert Bennett - fined for selling beer at an improper hour (Petty Sessions)
1868 – Robert Pretty - fined for selling beer at an improper hour (Petty Sessions, August)
1869 – James Baulch - fined for selling beer at an improper hour (Petty Sessions)
1871 – Thomas Morgan – Carpenter & Innkeeper (1871 census) listed as Dolphin Inn, Belmont
1875 – William Harding – Beer Retailer (Kelly's 1875 Directory)
1881 – William Harding – Slater Plasterer & Innkeeper (1881 census)
1889 – William Harding – Beer Retailer (Kelly’s 1889 Directory) listed as Dolphin
1890 – William Harding – License transfer (Borough Petty Sessions, September)
1890 – Henry Spearing – License transferred (Borough Petty Sessions, September)
1891 – Henry Spearing – Gardener (1891 census) listed as Doulphin Inn
1891 – Henry Spearing – License transfer (Borough Petty Sessions, January)
1891 – Richard Pinney – License transferred (Borough Petty Sessions, January)
1892 – Richard Penny – license transfer (Borough Petty Sessions)
1892 – John Hawkins – license transfer (Borough Petty Sessions)
1894 – License transfer from John Hawkins to John Williams (Borough Petty Sessions)
1895 (sic) – John Hawkins – Beer Retailer (Kelly’s 1895 Directory) pub not named
1898 – G Bowditch (1898 Yeovil Directory) listed as Dolphin Inn, Park Street
1900 – Andrew Mason McCouchie (Whitby's 1900 Yeovil Almanack Advertiser) listed as Dolphin
            Inn, 85 Park Street
1901 – Andrew McCouchie - license transfer (Petty Sessions, July)
1901 – Amos Bowritch of Lyme Regis - license transferred (Petty Sessions, July)
1901 – Amos Bowietch – Innkeeper (1901 census) listed as Dolphin Inn at 83 Park Street
1906 – Amos Bowditch Iicensee, Mitchell, Toms & Co, Chard, owners. License refused.