Back ...  

Maison Dieu House

Naval Victualler's Office - now the Public Library


The dormer window on the left is a decorative architectural feature - there is no room behind it!  If you look closely at the picture above you can see the roof behind the windows and a supporting bar holding up the wall.

The second window has a small shield inserted in the brickwork showing the date of construction: 1665.  The similar shield under the third window is badly worn and not readable; it is likely that it once contained the initials of the builder.

Built in 1665, Maison Dieu House, a magnificent Stuart-style building was originally the the office and house of the Agent Victualler of the Navy who controlled the supplying of the Channel Fleet.  The building housed the public library from 1952 until its recent move to the Market Square.

The Maison Dieu (or Domus Dei), once used as a victual store, is now the Dover Town Hall.

From 1831 to 1834, Maison Dieu House became the home of the Commander of the Royal Engineers in Dover, after which it was sold off and became home to a number of well-known Dover characters.  One of these was three-times Mayor of Dover, R.W.Mummery, owner of the Dover Tannery.

The building was taken over by Dover Corporation in 1899 to provide offices for the Medical Officer of Health and the Borough Engineer.


"The old Elizabethan mansion at the top of the street (Biggin Street), is the oldest perfect sample of domestic architecture that the street contains.  Maison Dieu House was built, after the Domus Dei was converted to a Navy Victualling Office, to serve as the residence of the Agent Victualler.  Maison Dieu House was used as such from the reign of Queen Elizabeth until after the Battle of Waterloo; and, subsequently, it was occupied by the commanding Royal Engineer at Dover until it was sold as a private residence.  Here resided the late Mr. William Kingsford, and afterwards Mr. R. W. Mummery, who was thrice Mayor of Dover, and he died there in 1869.  The old mansion is now the property of the Corporation, and is used as the offices of the Borough Engineer and the Electricity Department."   (JBJ 1907)

After recent conversion to offices for Dover Town Council

In front of the library is the memorial to the dead of the Great War, unveiled in 1924 by the Commander of the Dover Patrol, Sir Roger Keyes.

Among the names on this memorial are those of my grandfather, Gnr. W.T.Beer, and his cousin, Lt. E.A.Beer, both killed in action in Flanders in 1917.

My grandfather had only joined up in August 1917 and was employed as a camp barber, having been a gentlemen's hairdresser in civilian life.  He was killed just before Christmas.

His cousin had joined the army from school and was in the Reserve in 1914.  At the outbreak of war, he was called up and had to leave his family in Australia to go to the front.

Rear View of Maison Dieu House