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Dover Museum

"The land on which the Market and Museum now stand was the site of the old gaol, and being the separate estate of the Magistrates, was sold by auction.  The sale was postponed till September, 1837, when the Corporation Market Committee were the purchasers for 555, a new Market being then in contemplation, but, on further consideration, they could not see their way to financing the project.  Soon after, they seem to have re-sold the Queen Street frontages - a want of foresight which necessitated re-purchasing at a later date; but the remainder of the site was kept in hand by the Corporation.  The project of building the Market and Museum was revived at the annual meeting of the Town Council in 1845, and in April, 1846, Mr. Woodthorpe brought up a report with elaborate plans showing 'an open market with stone piers and arches above, subdivided in the interior by columns of a Tuscan character, comprising a Museum along the whole front and over the centre of the Market, the exterior having Corinthian columns, the interior space being filled with pedimented windows.'  It was estimated that the building would cost 3000, and it came out during the discussion in the Council that the idea was at some time to carry the Market and Museum through to Queen Street, which has since been done...

The Museum, which was placed in the upper part of the new building in 1848, had been established in the old Guildhall in 1836, when the Town Council removed its place of assembly to the Maison Dieu.(J.B.J. 1907)

  The museum remained over the market until war damage led to a "temporary" move to premises in Ladywell, under the Town Hall.  This site was inadequate, but the collection was to remain there until the old market building was rebuilt in 1989 as part of the re-development of the area.
The most spectacular exhibition in the modern museum is without doubt the Bronze Age Boat gallery.  This 3000 year old boat was excavated when work was being carried out on the Townwall Street underpass.  The gallery was added in 1999.

A full history of Dover museum can be found on the museum website.

  One much-loved exhibit is this huge polar bear, killed by local polar explorer Dr. Reginald Koetlitz (1860-1916), who accompanied Captain Scott on his Antarctic Expedition in 1901.

The bear, brought back from an expedition to the Arctic in 1897, was fitted with a lamp holder in its paw, and stood in the London Road surgery of the Koettlitz family until 1960, when it was given to Dover Museum. 

It always stood just inside the door at the Ladywell site but, since its move to the new premises, it has been housed in a glass case at the top of the stairs.


  One of the exhibitions in the museum today is of Anglo-Saxon Dover
  This model shows Norman soldiers "mining" the Saxon defences.
  A Bronze-age house