Reawakening the Maison Dieu
The reawakening of Dover's Grade I Listed Maison Dieu is 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 towards the end of 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 Sponsor: Roger Walton, Strategic Director (Environment & Place)
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
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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.