The Maison Dieu website showcases the £10.5m restoration of Dover's Town Hall
A new website (www.maisondieudover.org.uk) showcasing Dover’s historic Town Hall has been launched as the £10.5m Lottery-funded restoration of the Maison Dieu gets underway in earnest in January 2023.
Designed to be viewed on smartphones, tablets and desktop computers, the website is accessible for a range of user groups and is screen-reader friendly.
The website tells the 800-year history of the Grade I Listed Maison Dieu, from its foundation as a medieval pilgrims’ hospital, to Royal Navy victualling yard, through to its Victorian re-modelling as a civic and judicial powerhouse, to today’s much-loved community and cultural venue.
Online project blogs and news features will allow people to follow progress of the restoration and learn more about the work of a team of heritage conservation experts at work on the building and its rich collection of artefacts.
An on-going programme of events will allow people to visit the Maison Dieu at certain times to see the building’s transformation, along with outreach events at other local venues.
Once complete in late 2024 the Maison Dieu will be permanently open to the public for the first time in its 800-year history.
Future development of the website will include an online box office and ticketing for events with the Maison Dieu expected to become a major venue in the town.
Cllr Oliver Richardson, Dover District Council’s cabinet member for corporate property, said: “Helping more people to appreciate the history of the Maison Dieu is a key aim of our Lottery-funded restoration. The new website is a great way to showcase the history and restoration of this remarkable building.”
Notes to editors:
Reawakening the Maison Dieu
The restoration 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!
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.
Posted on 12 December 2022