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Restoration Project FAQs

Maison Dieu interior - back wall organ

Is it the Maison Dieu or is it Dover Town Hall?

It's both!

The earliest parts of the building date back to around 1203 when it was founded as a Maison Dieu which means House of God. It was constructed as a place for pilgrims to stop, rest and worship whilst travelling from mainland Europe to Canterbury Cathedral to visit the shrine of Thomas Becket.

After being used for a wide range of activities, Dover Town Council bought the building in 1834 and began to renovate and extend it. It was opened as the new Dover Town Hall in 1861.

Today the building is owned by Dover District Council. Dover Town Council are located next door, confusingly in Maison Dieu House!

What is the restoration project?

The project aims to restore the Maison Dieu to its former glory and make sure that it can continue to play a vital part in the life of Dover for many years to come.

Despite continuing to serve the community for a range of uses, parts of the building are in poor condition and in need of repairs and upgrades. Anyone who has used the building for a function will know that the position of toilets, storage spaces, entries, exits and disabled access create a whole host of problems. The building also operates at a significant annual loss that is currently met by Dover District Council.  With increasing pressure on Council finance, this position is not sustainable and ways need to be found to help the building cover its  costs.

Will it still be a community building?


The Maison Dieu was built for the community and has played an important role in the life of Dover ever since. Initial proposals for the building will keep the Connaught Hall, Stone Hall, Council Chamber and Court Room for community use. The plan is simply about making them work better for the community with new entrances, toilets, disabled access routes, cloak rooms and  storage.

Other parts of the building that are currently not used will be given sensitive new uses. These include a new café  and self-catering accommodation. There is much more research and consultation to be done on these ideas so things may  change.

What about the furniture?

The Maison Dieu that you see today is largely the result of a renowned Victorian architect called William Burges. The major overhaul that Burges led for the Town Council back in the 1800s was so extensive that the commission included lots of bespoke furniture designed specifically for the building.

The furniture is truly unique and arguably as important as the building itself. The aim is therefore to retain and restore as much of the original furniture as possible so that people can see it in all its splendour.

Who is behind the project?

The project is being led by Dover District Council, Dover Town and the Dover Society. This core team will be supported by a range of independent specialists such as architects, cost consultants and business planners.

Have you secured any funding for the project?

Yes! In 2018 we were lucky enough to secure a first round pass from the National Lottery Heritage Fund (HF) for £4.7m to restore, introduce new uses and improve accessibility for the Maison Dieu.

The HF operates a two stage application process that can take two years from start to finish. We are now half way through this process having secured a first round pass. The HF now provides funds for us to develop our ideas in more detail and we will have to submit a second round application in spring 2020 before being awarded all of the funding and restoration can begin.

During the next year the project team will be working hard to secure the match funding that is necessary for the bid to be successful. 

How long will all of this take?

The project will take time to deliver. Restoring historically important buildings correctly takes time and needs to be done carefully.  There will be much going on behind the scenes to make sure all of the necessary consents are in place and that the right repairs are carried out before you see any changes.

What is an activity plan?

An Activity Plan is a set of projects that are specifically designed to engage and educate a wide variety of people about heritage and in turn, hopefully ensure that the heritage is better understood and protected in the future.  An Activity Plan complements the physical work being undertaken and helps to ensure the legacy of HF investment goes beyond standalone buildings.  It should include a range of opportunities for local people and local businesses to get involved in heritage through education, training and leisure activities.  Projects could range from stone masonry courses to photography workshops or a Victorian music hall event, the limit is our imagination!

Community workshops to develop ideas for the Activity Plan were held prior to the submission of the round one application. Over the next year we will be developing these ideas in more detail and working closely with the community and local groups to do this, so watch out for further information. We are keen that all the Activity Plan projects for the Maison Dieu are developed with the community and link where possible to existing initiatives. If the second round funding bid is successful then the HF will fund these activities.

Can i find out more about the history of the building?

Yes, a comprehensive Statement of Significance document has been produced and is available from the link on our main project page.

How can I find out more?

For more information and project updates


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