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

Conservators working on a gilded picture frame

Conservation in Action - Dover's Repair Shop

Multiple dates:

See conservators from Bainbridge Conservation at work as they clean and repair historic oil paintings and neo-Gothic furniture by acclaimed Victorian designer William Burges. Free drop-in event. No need to book. Including creative activities for all ages.

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.

Coronation mugs with 1953 Queen Elizabeth II mug centre.

Royal Portraits and Jewelled Crowns - Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

Multiple dates:

Drop into the Maison Dieu to enjoy a host of fun, free activities for all the family. Chat to our conservators as they clean a historic royal portrait. Make a sparkly crown inspired by examples in the stained-glass windows. Find out about Dover’s 1953 Coronation festivities and royal visits to the building from Henry III to Elizabeth II. Explore a fascinating collection of Coronation memorabilia and listen to the royal memories of local people. Free drop-in event. No need to book. Age 2 to adult.

The gilded crown from the picture frame of a Maison Dieu royal portrait.

Lunchtime Bites - Conserving a royal portrait

3 June 2022 12:30 - 13:00

Discover how a Maison Dieu royal portrait is conserved with a specialist from Bainbridge Conservation. Free drop-in talk between 12.30pm and 1pm. Bring a sandwich or a drink to enjoy as you listen. No need to book in advance. Part of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

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.