Ambitious plans to restore Dover’s Grade I Listed Maison Dieu have taken a major step forward with planning and listed building consent. The £9m plans will transform the Maison Dieu as the heritage centrepiece in the ongoing regeneration of Dover town centre.
The proposals for the Maison Dieu – also known as Dover Town Hall - include essential conservation work to the internationally significant medieval and neo-gothic building, restoring William Burges’ interior decorative schemes in the Connaught Hall and Mayor’s Parlour, creating a new visitor entrance to the Connaught Hall and improving access throughout the building, and making the building more sustainable by bringing redundant spaces back into commercial use, including a holiday let and cafe.
The project will see the Maison Dieu open to the public daily for the first time in its history as a heritage attraction and improve facilities for community and event use.
A decision on a £4.8m bid to the National Lottery Heritage Fund is expected in the autumn which, if successful, would see the project get underway in 2021. Dover District Council, Dover Town Council and the Dover Society have pledged £4.2m in match-funding.
Alice Brockway, Inspector of Historic Buildings and Areas for Historic England, said: “The Town Hall is a large and complex building, but people’s ability to use its important main spaces, the Stone Hall and Connaught Hall is limited by shared facilities and poor step free access. At Historic England we fully support the Council’s aspirations to improve access arrangements so a wide range of people can better use the building’s main spaces. We are also very supportive of plans to bring unused areas of the building back into use.”
“Perhaps the most exciting part of the proposal, which will greatly enhance the building’s significance, is the reinstatement of the Burges decorative paint schemes in the Connaught Hall and Mayor’s Parlour. This element is informed by a thorough understanding of the historic paint scheme and will be transformational, revealing once again the intended architectural effect of the Burges design for Connaught Hall.”
Cllr Trevor Bartlett, Leader of Dover District Council, said: “The Maison Dieu has been part of the fabric of Dover for over 800 years. These exciting plans secure a sustainable future for the Maison Dieu, playing a key role in the economic vitality of the town centre as its most significant heritage asset.
“We’re grateful to our partners at Dover Town Council and the Dover Society, and for the strong support the project has received from Historic England.”
Posted on 15 July 2020