The Dolphin House Surgery began in the late nineteenth century when Dr May started a surgery in his own house. His son and grandson then succeeded him. After the war the Partners changed and the Practice moved to 2a East Street.
During the late seventies and early eighties the Practice population grew rapidly due to the extensive new building in and around Ware. The Practice moved to 6/7 East Street in 1982. The new premises were opened in 1982 in an old converted pub, called The Dolphin, hence the name Dolphin House Surgery.
The building is first mentioned in the Ware Manor Rolls in 1599 – the year Shakespeare wrote “Much Ado About Nothing”. At that time, a Robert price paid an annual rent of eight pence to Sir Thomas Fanshawe for “Le Dolphin”.
Over the past four centuries, the Dolphin has had its ups and downs – just like the street in which it was situated. Originally known as “Land Row”, it was ignominiously called “Back Street” for a while before coming East Street in the 1860s. It was a street mainly of Inns, fishmongers and maltsters. The Dolphin was owned by gentry for most of the 17th Century who let it out to tenant innkeepers. But when it was sold in 1740 it was described as “for some years past untenanted and a ruin”.
Like all Ware inns, the Dolphin was used for billeting soldiers passing through the town to war or muster of the militia. Billeting often led to trouble, like drunken brawls or even murder, as happened in other Ware inns in 1678 and 1681. It was by no means a luxury hotel and in 1755 had only five bedrooms and stabling for two horses, while a map of 1825 shows that the Dolphin had a ‘dung place’ right underneath the kitchen window.
The Dolphin prospered as an inn until the 1860s until the publican was jailed for six months for obtaining money under false pretences, this seemed to start its decline and by 1871 the building became a doss house with the grand name of “The Old Dolphin Tramps’ Lodging House”.
By 1876 the Dolphin had been rebuilt and reopened as an inn and before the First World War still was heated by a bath full of ‘Kiln Coals’ that stood in the middle of the bar. ‘Kiln Coals’ came from the Maltings and boys sold them around the town for two pence a kettle load.
The Dolphin finally ceased to be an inn during World War One, through Christie’s Brewery of Hoddesdon did not sell it until 1931, when it was converted initially into two houses and then later back to into one. After 1945, and continuing the theme of inappropriate things for a GP surgery to be associated with, it became a warehouse for wholesale confectioners and tobacconists until in 1981 it started being converted into the current Surgery.
The Practice continued to develop and in June 2010 we were awarded the Royal College of General Practitioners ‘Quality Practice Award’ which “recognises a high standard of quality patient care delivered by every member of the Practice team.” However the surgery was bursting at the seams and we felt it was high time that the Dolphin Inn moves on into a new phase of its history and the practice likewise.
With that in mind and to help all patients in Ware, we took over the running of the Maltings Surgery in 2016 and fully merged the lists into one Practice in 2017. This initially allowed us to develop chronic disease services at the Amwell site until the COVID outbreak and was then used for COVID positive patients.
In April 2021 after 10 years of planning, we finally moved into our new building in Burgage Lane. Part new build and part of Ware’s old fire station, we are now finally in a building fit for 21st Century medical care.
As we are no longer in the old Dolphin Inn there was thought of changing the name, but the practice is proud of the reputation it has built up serving the population of Ware, and in honour of all the patients, doctors and staff who have come through the doors, “Dolphin Inn” will continue to serve the people of ware for years to come.