The corner of Dragon Street and High Street has a long, documented history from the mid 17th century when an Inn was built on the site called The Red Lion. By 1736 it was called The White Hart and in 1776 it was changed to The Dolphin with a large area for stabling horses at the rear.
At the peak of the coaching age in 1828 the Royal Mail coach stopped there twice a day. Within the stabling area was a Tap, known as The Talbot from which beer brewed on site would have been served. With the coming of the railway and the subsequent demise of stage coaches, in 1857 it changed its name to The Dolphin Hotel.
The decline in business continued and by 1914 it had lost its licence and a completely new lease of life began in 1919 when it was turned into Petersfield High School for Girls who continued to use it until 1960.
It was demolished in the mid 1960s in a controversial decision to build a 60s style development of shops with flats above. The land and associated stabling area at the rear were turned into car parking.
In 2020 work began to build over the car park producing more shops with flats above facing Dragon Street.The building is nearing completion, albeit that the developers have now applied for a change of planning to turn the proposed shops into flats as they claim that a change in shopping habits will make the shops difficult to let.
Importantly the highly visible development infills the gap on which no major buildings have stood throughout the long history of the site.
Visit the Petersfield Museum to see some of the archival work PAHS has undertaken.
The Physic Garden is open daily except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s day. Check the website for times. Entrance is free.
Visit People of the Heath for more on the excavation of the Petersfield Heath barrows.