Reawakening the Maison Dieu
Book launch: 'The Bees Tale', Friday 16 September (7-8pm)
Join the buzz at Dover’s historic Maison Dieu this Friday 16 September at 7pm for the launch of The Bees Tale, a charming concertina book, by Creative Pilgrim, artist and illustrator Alexandra Le Rossignol, inspired by bees and pilgrim sites and stories on the pilgrim route from Dover to Canterbury, including the medieval Trendyll Candle, the Maison Dieu, historic parish churches and Canterbury Cathedral.
Meet the Conservators at our drop-in sessions
Dover’s very own Repair Shop - our conservation lab in the Stone Hall of the Maison Dieu - provides the public with a unique insight into the conservation of the Maison Dieu's unique collection of oil paintings and William Burges inspired furniture.
Get involved! Events at the Maison Dieu
We have an exciting programme of free to attend events and activities as we get ready for the reawakening of the Maison Dieu in 2022! Find out how you can get involved, from drop-in events to see conservation experts at work, take part in a community archaeological dig, or find out about the science of painting conservation.
Calling the History Hunters!
Interested in history? Enjoy discovering fascinating stories? Want to learn new research or oral history skills?
Join our friendly volunteer research team at Dover’s historic Maison Dieu! We’re looking for people of all ages and backgrounds, from academics and experienced researchers, to complete beginners. Your mission: to uncover the fascinating history of this 800-year-old building which has been a pilgrim hospital, Royal Navy victualling yard, town hall and much-loved events venue.
Training and expenses will be provided, plus an opportunity to be actively involved in a nationally significant heritage restoration project. Special research visits are also planned to Dover Museum, Canterbury Cathedral Archives and the National Maritime Museum.
Restoration to start in 2022
Plans to reawaken the Grade I Listed Maison Dieu in Dover town centre are underway thanks to a £4.27m grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.
The project sees the recreation of internationally significant decorative schemes by the renowned Victorian neo-Gothic architect, William Burges (1827-1881), a new street-level visitor entrance to the Connaught Hall, along with improved access throughout the building.
The project creates a sustainable future for the Maison Dieu by bringing redundant spaces back into commercial use, including restoring the Mayor’s Parlour as a holiday let in conjunction with The Landmark Trust, and a unique new café in the space once occupied by Victorian gaol cells!
Once complete in 2024 the Maison Dieu will be permanently open to the public for the first time in its 800-year history and contributing to the creation of a heritage quarter in Dover town centre.
Thank you to our funders and project partners...
Project Champion: Cllr Trevor Bartlett, Leader, Dover District Council
Project Sponsor: Roger Walton, Strategic Director (Operations & Commercial), Dover District Council
Community Engagement Officer: Martin Crowther
Project Co-ordinator: Ingham Pinnock Associates
Principal contractor: Coniston Ltd
Technical Project Manager: Artelia UK
Lead Architect: Haverstock LLP
Conservation Architect: Rena Pitsilli-Graham
Quantity Surveyor: D R Nolans & Co
Specialist Conservators: Bainbridge Conservation, Hare & Humphreys, Hirst Conservation, Holy Well Glass
Interpretation Consultant: Design Map UK
Latest Project News
You can register for email updates on the Maison Dieu restoration with Keep Me Posted and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
The Maison Dieu is the oldest and most prominent public building in Dover town centre. It is Grade I Listed and a Scheduled Monument.
The building is owned by Dover District Council and offers an important opportunity to connect people with heritage. The Maison Dieu today comprises a complex range and sequence of spaces including two large halls, a disused court room and Victorian gaol cells, council chamber, civic offices, meeting rooms, kitchens and numerous ancillary spaces.
History of the Maison Dieu
The Maison Dieu (House of God) was founded in the early 1200’s by Hubert de Burgh and passed to King Henry III in 1227, when the earliest surviving part of the building, the Chapel (later the court room) was consecrated in his presence.
It was built as a place of hospitality for pilgrims journeying from continental Europe to Canterbury Cathedral to visit the shrine of Thomas Becket. Following the Dissolution in the 16th century, the Maison Dieu was subsequently used as a victualling yard supplying ships of the Royal Navy.
In the mid-19th Century, the prominent Victorian architect Ambrose Poynter (1796-1886) extensively restored the Maison Dieu aided by the up-and-coming Gothic Revival architect, William Burges.
Burges later went on to further remodel the building and design an assembly hall (the Connaught Hall) and civic offices, including a range of bespoke furniture and interior schemes.
The Maison Dieu is the only civic commission by William Burges, and the only intact building in England still containing his decorative scheme, furniture, and fittings.
The Maison Dieu has been in some form of community or civic use over its entire 800-year history and remains much-loved by local people today.
Other notable buildings by William Burges include Cardiff Castle, Castell Coch, Knightshayes, Saint Fin Barre's Cathedral, and The Tower House in London.