The Wolfson Foundation Commits £130,000 for Maison Dieu Restoration

Maison Dieu (Matt Emmett)

Plans for the comprehensive restoration of the Grade I Listed Maison Dieu in Dover have taken another major step forward with a funding commitment of £130,000 from The Wolfson Foundation.

The restoration project includes essential conservation work to the internationally significant medieval and neo-gothic interiors of the Maison Dieu, creating a new visitor entrance to the Connaught Hall, improving access throughout the building, and making the building more sustainable by bringing redundant spaces back into commercial use.

The Maison Dieu can trace its history back to the 13th century when it was founded as a medieval hospital and used by pilgrims journeying from continental Europe to Canterbury Cathedral to visit the shrine of Thomas Becket.  It saw subsequent use as a naval victualling yard and was extensively remodelled in the 19th century by the prominent Victorian architects Ambrose Poynter and William Burges. The works included the development of civic offices, a court room and gaol, and a concert hall. The building is a very rare example of William Burges’ civic work and an important landmark in the Gothic revival style.

The Wolfson Foundation is an independent charity that supports and promotes excellence in the fields of science, health, education, and the arts and humanities. Since it was established in 1955, over £900 million (£1.9 billion in real terms) has been awarded to more than 11,000 projects throughout the UK, all on the basis of expert review. 

Paul Ramsbottom, Chief Executive of the Wolfson Foundation said: “Maison Dieu plays a pivotal part in the life of those living and working in central Dover, and reflects the rich history of this important town. We are pleased to support the interpretation work for such a fascinating building.”

Cllr Trevor Bartlett, Leader of Dover District Council, said: “We’re delighted to be working with The Wolfson Foundation on this exciting project to secure the future of the Maison Dieu as one of Dover’s most significant historic buildings. 

“Restoring the Maison Dieu at the centre of community and cultural life in Dover is a key part of our strategy to support the wider regeneration of Dover town centre.”

Dover District Council is currently completing a second round application to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for £4.7 million that will be submitted in June 2020.

Posted on 13 January 2020

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