Reawakening Dover's Neo-Gothic Masterpiece

Maison Dieu conservation studio

Experts from Bainbridge Conservation at work on the Maison Dieu's unique collection of oil paintings and furniture

Conservation Studio offers rare insight into £9m Maison Dieu restoration

A conservation studio giving visitors a rare opportunity to see conservation specialists at work as part of a £9m Lottery funded restoration of Dover’s Grade I Listed Town Hall opens at the Maison Dieu on Saturday, 29 January.

A team of specialist conservators from Bainbridge Conservation will be working in the medieval Stone Hall throughout 2022 conserving important artefacts from the Maison Dieu, including historic portraits and furniture.  The team has previously worked on high-profile projects at the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey.

The Maison Dieu has an impressive collection of oil paintings, including portraits of royalty, Lord Wardens of the Cinque Ports and Dover’s mayors, along with a nationally significant collection of civic furniture designed by acclaimed Victorian neo-Gothic architect, William Burges and his assistant, Edward Pullen.

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.  Older parts of the building date back 800 years when it was originally used as a medieval hospital for pilgrims heading to the shrine of Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral.

As part of the £9m Lottery-funded restoration, Burges’ highly decorative interior schemes in the Connaught Hall and Mayor’s Parlour will be restored.

Tristram Bainbridge, director of Bainbridge Conservation, said: “We’re excited to be opening the conservation studio and showcasing our work to clean, repair and restore the Maison Dieu’s unique collection of fine oil paintings, and William Burges furniture.

“We’re particularly looking forward to meeting the local community and sharing our passion for conservation with visitors to the Maison Dieu.”

Cllr Oliver Richardson, Dover District Council’s cabinet member for community and corporate property, said: “It’s great to see work on the restoration of the Maison Dieu’s artefacts underway ahead of the main works on the building itself which start in the early summer.

“The reawakening of the Maison Dieu provides a major cultural stimulus for the town centre, providing a truly spectacular visitor and community venue.”

To attend the free ‘Meet the Conservators’ event on Saturday, 29 January, book online at

There will opportunities for visitors to see the conservators at work in a series of special events throughout 2022, including talks, demonstrations and opportunities to try conservation techniques. For more information, visit

 Notes to editors:

  • There will be a media preview and filming opportunity at the Maison Dieu conservation studio on Monday, 24 January (10am to 4pm).   For details, please email
  • The £9m reawakening of the Grade I Listed Maison Dieu will see the restoration of internationally significant decorative schemes by the renowned Victorian neo-Gothic architect, William Burges, 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 in 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.
  • Project funders/partners include the National Lottery Heritage Fund, The Wolfson Foundation, The Landmark Trust, Dover Town Council, and the Dover Society.


Posted on 21 January 2022

For media enquiries, Email: