Architectural practice Haverstock has been appointed to lead a multi-disciplinary design team for the planned £8m restoration of Dover’s Grade I listed Maison Dieu (Dover Town Hall). Dover District Council which owns the building was awarded a first round pass and £427,400 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund in July 2018 to develop its ambitious restoration plans for the iconic town centre building. A second round bid for £4.7m from the National Lottery Heritage Fund will be submitted in Spring 2020.
The Maison Dieu can trace its history back to the 13th century when it was founded as a medieval hospital and used by pilgrims journeying from continental Europe to Canterbury Cathedral to visit the shrine of Thomas Becket. It saw subsequent use as a naval victualling yard, and was extensively remodelled in the 19th century by the prominent Victorian architects Ambrose Poynter and William Burges. The works included the development of civic offices, court room and gaol, and a concert hall. The building is a very rare example of William Burges’ civic work and an important landmark in the Gothic revival style.
The restoration project includes essential conservation work to the internationally significant medieval and neo-gothic interiors of the Maison Dieu, creating a new visitor entrance to the Connaught Hall and improving access throughout the building, and making the building more sustainable by bringing redundant spaces back into commercial use, including restoring the Mayor’s Parlour as a holiday let.
Cllr Trevor Bartlett, DDC’s Cabinet Member for Corporate Property, said: "The Maison Dieu is the largest and most significant historic property in Dover town centre. Its planned restoration is a major undertaking, involving conserving important medieval and neo-gothic structures and interiors, and opening them up to new audiences.
"We’re delighted Haverstock are on-board to lead the design team for this exciting project. Their conservation experience and creativity will help us secure the future of the Maison Dieu as the jewel in the crown of Dover town centre."
Tom Gibb, Partner at Haverstock, said: ""Haverstock and the design team are delighted to continue their collaboration with Dover District Council and the wider stakeholders on this fascinating and exciting project. We are profoundly aware of the importance of the Maison Dieu to the people of Dover and feel privileged to be entrusted with the next chapter of this buildings unique history."