A New Future For Dover's Historic Roman Painted House

Roman Painted House Dover 1

Dover District Council, working with the Roman Painted House Trust, is looking forward to opening the historic Roman Painted House to the public this summer and seeing the attraction play a key role in the regeneration of Dover for the future.

At a meeting last week, DDC’s Cabinet supported proposals to carry out immediate remedial works necessary to re-open the monument and also to develop plans to transform the Roman Bath House and Roman Lawn giving the go ahead to progress applications for grant funding for this key site.

The intention is for the Roman Painted House to be open to the public by the end of July. Once open, it is planned to see the attraction open for free on Saturdays and Sundays until the end of October, with bookable group access at other times.

The Roman Painted House was discovered in 1970 and then excavated by local archaeologists during the following decade.  Built in about AD200, it formed part of the Roman military site in Dubris – the Latin name for Dover. It has been described as the finest Roman house on show in Britain, with unique painted plaster walls (frescoes) and elaborate under floor heating (hypocaust).

Following its excavation in the 1970s, the site was leased to the Roman Painted House Trust, which managed it with volunteers.  In October 2023, the trustees took the difficult decision to hand the property back to DDC, who own the site.

The Roman Painted House is just part of a significant set of archaeological remains in the centre of modern-day Dover, some of which are under the adjacent Roman Lawn and include a Roman bath house.

Plans for the future of the Roman Painted House follow news of a range of major developments for Dover Town Centre, including the multi million pound Dover Beacon project and the £10.5m reawakening of Dover Maison Dieu. This also follows news of a major funding boost to help conserve and regenerate Dover’s Western Heights.  

Cllr Kevin Mills, Leader of Dover District Council said: “We are very pleased to move forward with exciting plans for the Roman Painted House. Our thanks go out to Dr Brian Philp MBE and all the trustees and volunteers who have worked so tirelessly here, and we look forward to continuing to work with the current trustees and to progressing their great work for the future.

“There is a whole range of exciting initiatives coming together for the future of the district. This is another key catalyst for the regeneration of Dover, bringing increased footfall and spend to the town, as we continue to work with partners to make the area a great place to live, work, visit, learn and invest.”

A spokesperson from the Roman Painted House Trust said: “The Trust is delighted to be working in partnership with the District and Town Councils to re-open the Painted House this summer.  There have already been exciting developments with eminent Kent Romanists and archaeologists to re-examine the story of the House and the development of Roman Dover (Dubris).  We look forward to sharing our history with visitors and a new generation of volunteer guides.”

Posted on 16 April 2024

For media enquiries, Email: pr@dover.gov.uk