What's on guide

Spring 2022

Join us for an exciting programme of activities inspired by Dover’s historic Maison Dieu.

Stone Hall Located at Maison Dieu

What is the Maison Dieu?

The Maison Dieu has been at the heart of community life in Dover for over 800 years. It began as a medieval hospital, providing accommodation for poor pilgrims on their way to the shrine of St Thomas Becket at Canterbury. It later became a victualling yard, supplying ship’s biscuit and beer to the Royal Navy, before becoming Dover’s Town Hall in the 1830s.

In Victorian times, the building was extended to include a courtroom, prison cells, council chamber, Mayor’s Parlour and the impressive Connaught Hall.

Today, it’s a favourite building of many local people, who’ve attended an impressive range of functions within its walls - from dinner dances, music gigs and Christmas pantomimes to beer festivals and wrestling!

The Re-awakening

The £9.1m reawakening of this Grade 1 Listed building will see the restoration of internationally significant decorative schemes by renowned Victorian architect William Burges, a new visitor entrance and improved access. In 2024 the Maison Dieu will permanently open to the public, contributing to an exciting new heritage quarter in Dover town centre.

Coming Soon!

An ambitious programme of activities, inspired by the building and its collections, is being developed in partnership with local community groups. Read on to find out more!

UPCOMING EVENTS

Young archaeologists have fun excavating a mini-dig to discover real finds

The History Diggers - Excavating Dover’s Maison Dieu

Multiple dates:

See what’s been uncovered at our live archaeological digs, as a dedicated team of volunteers excavate 3 pits to discover more about the history of the Maison Dieu site. Chat to archaeologists and investigate finds in close-up detail. With a fun mini-dig and craft activities for children. Free drop-in event. Further details to follow. In partnership with Canterbury Archaeological Trust.

A young boy creating a Burges dragon design

Clay Date - Fantastical beasts and how to make them

Multiple dates:

Be inspired by the art and architecture of Dover’s historic Maison Dieu… from gargoyles, grotesques and stories in stained-glass to the fantastical designs of William Burges. Then shape your own response in clay at the nearby Biggin Hall. Including hand-building, throwing, raku-firing and glazing, plus a Ceramic Market exhibition and finds from the recent Maison Dieu archaeological dig. Led by Ceramic Art Dover, Future Foundry and the Maison Dieu project team. Family-friendly drop-in event. All welcome.

Pilgrims in the Himalayas

From the Camino to the Hajj - photos of world pilgrim journeys

19 September 2022 09:30 - 17:00

As part of the Kent Pilgrim Festival Dover Museum are proud to host a selection of photographs representing pilgrim journeys in Kent, the UK and wider world.The photographs represent modern-day pilgrim experiences across all faiths and none. Free entry. Open Mon to Sat 9.30am to 5pm until 31 Dec 2022. And Sun 10am to 3pm until 1 Oct 2022.

Riverside flowers

From the Maison Dieu to the Breakwater Brewery A mini pilgrimage along the River Dour Greenway

21 September 2022 18:00 - 18:45

Join a mini pilgrimage from Dover’s Maison Dieu to the Breakwater Brewery, as we explore a fascinating section of the River Dour. This accessible walk is half a mile long and follows an even, tarmacked footpath. At the end participants are invited to take part in the Dover launch of the Kent Pilgrim Festival at the Breakwater Brewery. Free walk led by Maison Dieu Engagement Officer Martin Crowther and Barry O’Brien of Dover Tales. Meet outside Maison Dieu. No advance booking required.

Pilgrim tile

Pilgrim Ales, Music and Tales - Kent Pilgrims' Festival launch and pilgrim beer tasting

21 September 2022 19:00 - 22:00

Join us for the Dover launch of the Kent Pilgrims' Festival at the Breakwater Brewery beside the River Dour. Enjoy a relaxed evening listening to live music and sampling two newly created pilgrim ales. The event is free and open to all, but there’s a small charge for food and drink (hog roast and vegetarian).

Medieval pilgrim tile

Dover’s Medieval Town Walls and the Trendyll Candle

22 September 2022 18:00 - 19:00

Join Dover Tales storyteller Barry O’Brien and Creative Pilgrim Liz Garnett to explore the route of Dover’s missing medieval town walls and uncover a host of stories. Free entry. Meet outside St Mary’s Church, Cannon Street, Dover, CT16 1BY. No charge. Suitable for age 12 plus. Walk length 1.5 miles around town centre streets. Part of the Kent Pilgrims' Festival.

Medieval pilgrim tile

Meet the Medieval Pilgrims - at Dover's historic Maison Dieu

Multiple dates:

Listen to stories of medieval characters including poor pilgrims, monks, servants and pie sellers as they reveal what it was like to stay at Dover’s historic Maison Dieu. Explore this fascinating 800 year old building and take part in fun crafts including pilgrim badge and tile making. Chat to our paintings conservators as they clean and repair an important portrait of St Martin, the patron saint of Dover. Free entry. Drop-in event for all ages.

The decorated medieval entrance to the ruined St James' Church

In the Footsteps of Medieval Pilgrims - Dover's family-friendly pilgrim trail

24 September 2022 10:00 - 16:00

Follow a fun map through Dover town centre to discover sites visited by medieval pilgrims. Meet medieval characters and hear their stories. Get 3 or more stamps to receive a small prize. Pick up your free pilgrim trail at the Maison Dieu, the Urban Fete in Pencester Gardens or Dover Museum. Suitable for children age 3 to adult. Most of the route is buggy and wheelchair accessible. The trail is about a mile long, and can be completed in any order.

St Martin portrait

Conserving St Martin

Multiple dates:

Chat to a specialist from Bainbridge Conservation as they work on a historic portrait of St Martin, the patron saint of Dover. Find out about this important painting and how it’s being cleaned and conserved. Free drop-in event as part of the Kent Pilgrims' Festival. In partnership with Bainbridge Conservation and Rebecca Gregg Conservation.

Maison Dieu bracket clock with Dover in background

How to Find Us

The Maison Dieu is on Biggin Street, Dover, CT16 1DL. Several buses stop nearby and it’s a short walk from Dover Priory railway station or the Maison Dieu pay and display car park. Walking and cycling routes that pass it include the River Dour trail, North Downs Way, Pilgrims’ Way and Via Francigena.

Access

A small lift (maximum width 775mm) provides access up to the main floor of the building where there is an accessible toilet. Access to the building is being upgraded as part of the current project.

How to get involved

If you’d like to be involved as a volunteer or as a local school or community group, please contact Martin Crowther (Maison Dieu Engagement Officer) at martin.crowther@dover.gov.uk or phone 07596 889 668.

With thanks

The project has been made possible through generous funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, The Wolfson Foundation, The Landmark Trust, Dover Town Council and The Dover Society.