DOVER KENT ARCHIVES
John Bavington Jones

Published in the South Kent Gazette, 9 January, 1980.

A PERAMBULATION OF THE TOWN, PORT AND FORTRESS.

PART 48.

 

MAISON DIEU RESTORATION

The movement was zealously pushed forward by the late Mr Edward Knocker, who was interested, not only as a public man and a keen archaeologist, but by the fact that he was connected by marriage with Hubert de Burgh, the original founder of the Maison Dieu. It was estimated that at least £2,000 would be required to carry out Mr Poynter’s designs; but, after a period of seven years, the sum realised by subscriptions amounted to but £791 8s. 1d., including £200 granted by the Government. In 1858, the Council voted £200 to the fund; but, at that time, the whole of the £991 raised had been spent, and the proportion of the restoration done was so small that it seemed hopeless to expect the whole to be accomplished by public subscription. The Corporation then took the work in hand.

The new windows on the south-east side had been put in by the late Mr George Pry, from the designs of Mr Ambrose Poynter, under the direction of Mr W. Burgess. The remainder of the work of the restoration was carried out by Mr H. P. Mackenzie, of Dover, at an additional cost of £3,500.

 

MEMORIAL WINDOWS

The son of Mr Ambrose Poynter, Edward (afterwards President of the Royal Academy), had drawn a series of cartoons for the insertion of coloured glass, it being hoped that, from time to time, the townspeople would provide funds for their insertion as memorials. That expectation was not long in being realised, and the series was completed about the year 1873. The first window inserted was the large one with five lights, over the south-west entrance, given by Mrs Bell, of Maison Dieu House, in memory of her cousin, Mr William Kingsford, who died in 1856. In the central light is the figure of Hubert de Burgh, the founder of the Maison Dieu; in the two divisions on the right are effigies of Henry III and Richard II, and, on the other side, Henry VI and Richard III. The artistic treatment, both as to design and colour, is superb. The six windows on the south-east side, which had the pictorial cartoons inserted at various times, are as follows, commencing at the top of the Hall:

(1) "Relief of Dover Castle by Sir John de Pencester, A.D. 1216," inserted by public subscription, in memory of our soldiers who fell in the Crimean War and the Indian Mutiny, 1854-57;

(2) "Henry III confirming the Charter of the Maison Dieu, A.D. 1227,“ inserted by merchants and citizens of London as "a memorial to the commercial honour and uprightness of Richard Dickeson, 1872";

(3) “Embarkation of Edward III for France at Dover, A.D. 1359,“ inserted as a memorial to Robert Taylor, Commander of the Royal Navy, who died at Dover, 1873;

(4) “Landing of the Emperor Sigismund" opposed at Dover, A.D. 1414,“ presented by Mr H. P. Mackenzie, the builder employed in the restoration of the Hall, 1862;

(5) “Embarkation of Henry VIII at Dover for the Field of Cloth of Gold, 1520," inserted by Mr Thomas Baker Bass, Town Clerk, in memory of his relative, William Allen, a native of Dover, who died in South Australia, 1656; and

(6) “Landing of Charles II at Dover, on his Restoration, 25th May, 1660,“ erected in memory of Mr George T. Thompson, Lieutenant of the Dover Company of the Artillery Volunteers, who was killed by the bursting of a gun during practice at Archcliffe Fort, 9th August, 1860. Mr Thompson was Register of Dover Harbour Board and Coroner for the Borough. He was a brother of Mr E. P. Thompson, the founder of the Dover Museum. Alike for their artistic merits, the subjects depicted, and the occasions of their erections, these windows form a series scarcely equalled in any public building in the kingdom.

 

NOTABLE PORTRAITS

The walls of the hall were hung with historic pictures, being portraits of public persons associated with, or natives of Dover (some of which are now in other parts of the Town Hall), including; Queen Elizabeth (purchased in 1598 for 26/-), Charles II, William III (both given by the Mayor, John Hollingberry, 1703), Queen Anne (given by Captain John Ball, 1713), George I (presented by Mr A. Wellard Mayor, 1750), George IV, Lionel Sackville, Duke of Dorset, Lord Warden (presented by the Duke, 1761), the Duke of Wellington (paid for by public subscription), Viscount Palmerston, Earl Granville, the Marquis of Dufferin, the Marquis of Salisbury and Sir Winston Churchill, all of them Lord Wardens.

There are the portraits of four Mayors — Charles Lamb, James Poulter, John Birmingham and Dr Astley. Of Stewards and Recorders, there are portraits of Lord Hardwicke (1718), Mr Robinson (1770), Sir William Bodkin (1834-74), and Sir Harry Bodkin Poland (1874-.1901); also portraits of Peter Fector (a Dover banker), the Rev. John Maule (minister of St. Mary’s, 1817-1842), and of Sir John Rae Reid (1830-47), and Mr Edward Royds Rice (1835-47), Members of Parliament for Dover.

 

UNIQUE ROLL OF MAYORS

One of the new buildings associated with the Maison Dieu is the Council Chamber (hung with many interesting pictures and documents), built in 1868, and there is a window in it inserted as a memorial to the late Mr Steriker Finnis. There is another one, put in by Sir Richard Dickeson on the occasion of his being presented with the Honorary Freedom of Dover. The Council Chamber suggests a glance at Dover's roll of Mayors and other officials, compiled by the late Town Clerk, Sir Wollaston Knocker, and by his father, Mr Edward Knocker, F.S.A. The roll commences with the year 1086— twenty years after the Conquest; and, although there are gaps in the early portion, the record is unique.

 

King Charles II

ONE of the outstanding Royal visits to Dover was that of King Charles II upon the Restoration of the monarchy. He set foot on the sea front at Dover on 25th May, 1660, and some idea of the tumultuous welcome he received can be gauged from this outstanding engraving by William Sharp. Vast crowds were on the beach and the guns of the Castle fired a salute.

A hunted fugitive after the Battle of Worcester, he was welcomed back and acclaimed as Sovereign, at the age of 35, in a way that no British monarch has been before or since following the turmoil and confusion of a miserable Civil War. The scene on his arrival from Holland has been depicted in many a drawing and it is believed the landing took place near the Granville Gardens.

Old Dover Corporation records give this account of the event: “The King arrived in Dover Roads from Holland with 20 sail of His Majesty’s great ships and frigates, the Rt. Hon. Edward Lord Montague being General, and landed the same day, being attended by His Excellency the Lord General Monck, who first met His Majesty upon the bridge let into the sea for His Majesty’s more safe and convenient landing, and at His Majesty’s coming from the bridge, the Mayor of this Town, Thomas Broome, Esq., made a speech to His Majesty upon his knees, and Mr John Beading, Minister of the Gospel, presented His Majesty with the Holy Bible as a gift from this town, and Mr Beading thereupon made a speech likewise to His Majesty and His Gracious Majesty, laying his hand upon his breast, told Mr Mayor nothing would be more dear to him than the Bible. His Excellency the Lord General was accompanied with the Earl of Winchelsea and a great number of nobility and gentry of England and his life guard all most richly accoutred.“

With the King was his brother, who later became James II. He was made Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports and held office from 1660-69.

 

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