About Us

What is the restoration project?

The project will restore the Maison Dieu to its former glory ensuring it will play a vital role in the life of Dover for many years to come.

Despite continuing to serve the community for a range of uses, parts of the building were in poor condition and in need of repairs and upgrades. Anyone who has used the building for a function will know that the position of toilets, storage spaces, entries, exits and disabled access create a whole host of problems. The building also operates at a significant annual loss that is currently met by Dover District Council. With increasing pressure on Council finance, this position is not sustainable and ways need to be found to help the building cover its costs. 

Find out about the history of the Maison Dieu on our dedicated page.

Read about the progress of the Reawakening the Maison Dieu project so far here.

For further information please follow this link to the design consultation boards. 

Who is behind the project?

The project is being led by Dover District Council, Dover Town Council and The Dover Society. This core team will be supported by a range of independent specialists such as architects, cost consultants and business planners.

The project team is:

  • Project Champion: Cllr Trevor Bartlett, Leader, Dover District Council
  • Project Sponsor: Roger Walton, Strategic Director (Operations & Commercial), Dover District Council
  • Community Engagement Officer: Martin Crowther, Dover District Council
  • Project Co-ordinator: Ingham Pinnock Associates
  • Technical Project Manager: Artelia UK
  • Lead Architect: Haverstock LLP
  • Conservation Architect: Rena Pitsilli-Graham
  • Quantity Surveyor: D R Nolans & Co
  • Specialist Conservators: Bainbridge Conservation
  • Interpretation Consultant: Design Map UK

Is it the Maison Dieu or is it Dover Town Hall?

It’s both! The earliest parts of the building date back to the 13th Century when it was founded as a Maison Dieu which means House of God. It was constructed as a place for pilgrims to stop, rest and worship whilst travelling from mainland Europe to Canterbury Cathedral to visit the shrine of Thomas Becket. After being used for a wide range of activities, Dover Town Council bought the building in 1834 and began to renovate and extend it. It was opened as the new Dover Town Hall. Today the building is owned by Dover District Council. Dover Town Council are located next door, confusingly in Maison Dieu House!

Will it still be a community building?


The Maison Dieu was built for the community and has played an important role in the life of Dover ever since. The proposals will keep the Connaught Hall, Stone Hall, Council Chamber and Court Room for community use. The plan is simply about making them work better for the community with new entrances, toilets, disabled access routes, cloak rooms and storage.

Other parts of the building that are currently not used will be given sensitive new uses. These include a new café and self-catering accommodation.

Have you secured any funding for the building?


In 2020 the project secured £4.7m from the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) to restore, introduce new uses and improve accessibility for the Maison Dieu. Alongside this the team has also secured £130,000 from the Wolfson Foundation and Dover Town Council and the Dover Society have also pledged funds. We are very grateful to our funders for helping us to deliver this project.

How long will all of this take?

Restoring historically important buildings takes time and needs to be done carefully. Work will start in 2022 and will conclude in 2024 with a grand opening. Events and activities funded by the Lottery will continue until the end of 2025.

What about the furniture?

The Maison Dieu that you see today is largely the result of a renowned Victorian architect called William Burges. The major overhaul that Burges led for the Town Council back in the 1800s was so extensive that the commission included lots of bespoke furniture designed specifically for the building. The furniture is truly unique and arguably as important as the building itself. The aim is therefore to retain and restore as much of the original furniture as possible so that people can see it in all its splendour. During the project you will be able to come and see the conservation in action or even get involved with restoring it – look out for press announcements and on our social media pages.

What is happening to each of the rooms?

Connaught Hall

A new entrance is being installed in the High Street façade of the Maison Dieu (roughly below the Zeebrugge Bell) to provide a much-needed accessible entrance. This will lead into a light and spacious atrium with a welcome desk and accessible toilets.

An accessible lift and redecorated stairwells will provide separate access to the Connaught Hall and Stone Hall, a much-improved situation to the current one, where all visitors enter via the Stone Hall.

The 1883 William Burges decorative scheme will be reinstated by heritage paint specialists to bring this room back to its former glory.

The three blocked-up arches at the High Street end of the room will be opened and glazed, offering a spectacular view from the Atrium into the Connaught Hall.

Sadly, the conservation and repair of the organ is too expensive to be included in the current project. Unless a private benefactor can be found, its repair will feature in a future funding bid. 

Stone Hall

There are no major changes planned for this space, although some of the paintings and furniture will be conserved and the new entrance will mean much better access to this space. The Stone Hall will be open* on a daily basis to the public for the first time and the room will have new interpretation for visitors to explore.

*when not in use for an event


As part of the transformation of the building a new drinks bar will be installed at the opposite side of the room to the magistrate’s court, but otherwise it will remain unchanged. Interpretation will be improved and there are plans to deliver exciting activities in this space including debates, mock-trials, drama and theatre productions.

Council Chamber

No major changes are scheduled to this room as part of the current lottery project, although some of the paintings and furniture will be conserved. However, adjacent to the Council Chamber there will be new toilet facilities and a new access, so the room will be able to be used independently from the Stone Hall and Connaught Hall. 

Mayor’s Parlour

As part of the current project, Burges’ original decorative scheme is to be re-instated by a team of heritage paint specialists.

The restored Mayor’s Parlour and adjacent suite of rooms will then become a prestigious holiday let for The Landmark Trust. This will provide an important new income stream for the building and bring new visitors to Dover.

In between bookings the room will be opened to visitors, so the public can still see this important part of the building.