Maison Dieu's Reawakening Through a Photographer's Eye

Maison Dieu - Andy Aitchison

Young photographers learn from top professionals as they capture the historic Maison's Dieu reawakening (copyright: Andy Aitchison)

Young adults aged 16 to 25 are learning skills from top photographers and film makers as they document the transformation of Dover’s historic Maison Dieu (Dover Town Hall) as part of the Reawakening the Maison Dieu Heritage Lottery project.

Working with the Positive View Foundation and Maison Dieu engagement team, the photographers are being given special access to the building during a crucial phase of its redevelopment.

Participants will record building work in progress and the conservation of important heritage features, from oil paintings and carved stonework to the re-instatement of Victorian architect William Burges’ Neo-gothic decorative scheme.

Positive View have a great track record of transforming young people’s lives through the power of photography, with several ‘graduates’ going on to high-profile roles in the industry, including as a fashion photographer with Vogue magazine and a photographer with a national newspaper.

Participants will learn a wide range of film and photography skills - from fashion-shoots inspired by the costumes, hairstyles and make-up of the Maison Dieu’s impressive collection of historic portraits to a 360-degree photography masterclass to create a ‘virtual tour.’

There will be training in drone and portrait photography and the chance to build a ‘camera obscura’ to photograph rooftop views. Participants will also become ‘roving reporters’ to document the Maison Dieu’s busy outreach programme.

The workshops will finish with a prestigious exhibition in Dover to showcase the students’ work, which will also feature on the Maison Dieu website and in social media.

Further workshops are planned with a new intake of students in autumn 2023.

Applications are particularly sought from young people in the Dover district who are not in employment, education, or training. For further information, please contact or

Maison Dieu Partners logo strip

Notes to editors:

About the Reawakening the Maison Dieu Project

The £10.5m reawakening of the Grade I Listed Maison Dieu sees the restoration of internationally significant decorative schemes by the renowned Victorian neo-Gothic architect, William Burges, and 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.

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 06 April 2023

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