The Maison Dieu

31 March, 2024 – 11:33 am

I had a wonderful tour of the building works at the Maison Dieu in Dover a few weeks ago.

As their stonemason in residence I feel an attachment to this wonderful historic building and I am looking forward to seeing it restored to it’s former glory.

There are gaol cells beneath the stone hall, when they were being cleared out a medieval tomb was discovered. At the entrance to each cell is some beautiful letter carving, describing what the cells were used for, dark and black they are foreboding, a lady that used to work in the building said it’s very haunted…I’m sure there will be some events and tours focusing on this macabre past.

The last picture interested me as the wear in the paving stone shows how many people, young and old have walked here, wearing the stones down. What stories these walls could tell, if they could talk.

As we walked through the tunnels, the beautiful copper pipes caught my eyes, the next phase of this building’s history, bringing it back into use. As we went through the original medieval archway, evidence of the fragility of the fabric of the building is apparent, thank goodness they are restoring and protecting this now.

We went upstairs into the stone hall, here you will find the original of my grotesque carving. The paintings, wall hangings and historic coats of armour and weapons are all packed away safely or away being carefully restored.

The military banners, so lovingly stitched, traditionally they are left up and allowed to disintegrate naturally. The Maison Dieu have been given special permission to have them conserved and then they will be put back on display in glass cabinets.

This wooden plaque caught my eye.

The Connaught Hall is being given the full treatment, the beautiful paint work of William Burges’ time has been uncovered in places, recorded and protected. Using this information, it will be re-produced.
It would be too costly to uncover all of it, however in the Mayor’s parlour it has been. Unfortunately we couldn’t go into this area as it is being restored and conserved. Eventually, it will be a place for visiting pilgrims, wedding guests and families to stay, sleeping up to 7 it will be a wonderful place to have a short break.

Scaffolding from floor to ceiling allows access to details of the stained glass and architectural features.

Climbing the scaffolding stairs took us up into the ceiling, seeing the beautiful stained glass, original light fitting, once gas but now electric.

The amazing ventilation system so beautiful in it’s form yet functional as an early form of air conditioning.

I asked permission to touch the ceiling, knowing I will never have the opportunity again.

As we came back down the stairs, the beautiful stained glass with the original dedication.

I am truly grateful to be able to see this wonderful building at this stage and to know that I am forever part of it’s history.


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