In May 1202, Hubert de Burgh (c.1160–1243) was appointed the Constable of Dover Castle and the following year he found a Hospital now referred to as the Maison Dieu. The Great Chamber, or Stone Hall we see today, dates back to 1253 and on the north side was the church, behind which, and running the length of Stone Hall, was the guesthouse. In 1524, Henry VIII (1509-1547) ended all religious functions at the Maison Dieu and ten years later the monks were evicted.
The victualling department of the Royal Navy, in 1552, appropriated the building and in February 1835, Dover Corporation managed to gain possession in order to use it as a replacement Town Hall and Law Courts. About 1850, Ambrose Poynter (1796–1886) was instructed to draw up plans for the restoration of the building. Between 1852-1862, his designs were carried out, chiefly under the direction of his successor, William Burges (1827-1881). The son of Ambrose Poynter, Edward John Poynter (1836–1919), later knighted and appointed the Director of the National Gallery and President of the Royal Academy, drew a series of cartoons for the insertion of coloured glass into the window frames in the Stone Hall. This was completed about 1873.
In September 1939, with the outbreak of World War II (1939-1945) the stained glass windows were all moved to places of safety. Once hostilities were over and money became available, the windows were restored and in 1968 repair work were carried out.
Windows in the Stone Hall
Above the entrance into the Stone Hall is a large window divided into five sections depicting the principal benefactors of the Maison Dieu. The centre figure of the five windows is a full-length depiction of Hubert de Burgh, the founder of the Maison Dieu. He is wearing a suit of chain mail covered with a surcoat emblazoned with his armorial bearings gules, seven lozenges vair 3.3 and one. In his right hand is a scroll with a sealed pendant – depicting his gift – and his left hand rests on his shield that also shows his coat of arms. The trefoil above contains a water bouget, the crest of the De Burgh.
On either side of Hubert de Burgh are on the right are Kings Henry III (1216-1272) and Richard II (1377-1399) and on the left Henry VI (1422-1461 + 1470-1471) and Richard III (1483-1485). Above each figure are a building that the individual was connected with and their badge. Over Henry II is the planta genista or broom, over Richard II the white hart, Henry VI two ostrich feathers and an angel and white rose over Richard III. The four large trefoils contain the arms of Queen Victoria, the arms of the Cinque Ports and depiction’s from the Dover Corporation seals, namely St. Martin – the titular Saint of Dover and a Cinque Port galley, fully rigged and manned.
Mrs Mary Bell donated these windows. She was the benefactor of her cousin William Kingsford who died on 26 May 1856. Starting his working life as a corn miller, William owned Buckland corn mill and Maison Dieu House when he died. The windows bear the inscription: Guiliemus Kingsford obit. XXVI Maii Anno Dominii MDCCCLVI. Aetatis suoe LXVIII. Maria, consanquinea sua, filia Thomoe Roberti Holmes et uxor Johnannis Bell hane Fenestram Posvit. William Wailes (1808–1881) of Newcastle produced the window in 1856. He was the proprietor of one of England’s largest and most prolific stained glass workshops and the artistic treatment, as to both the design and colour, is recognised as being superb.
Edward Poynter designed the six large windows along the south wall. He was in Paris in 1860, when he received the commission for just the first one. The council were so impressed that they paid him £20 to make designs for the remaining five windows. The stonework decorations of the windows are a copy of the original 14th Century tracery. The subjects of windows are in chronological order from the furthest end and the heads of all six windows are principally decorated with heraldic references to the periods the incidents represented. In the large compartments are the arms of the reigning monarch and the minor compartments cognizances and devices.
From the east end, the first south window was given in memory of those who fell in the Crimea War (1854-1856) and in the Indian Mutiny (1857-1858). Again, William Wailes produced the window.
Installed in 1865, the window depicts the Relief of Dover Castle by John de Pencester AD MCCXVI (1216). In 1216, the last year of the reign of King John, Dover Castle was besieged by Louis the Dauphin of France (1187– 1226 later Louis VIII 1223–1226) defended only by Hubert de Burgh and a small number of followers. Eventually, so the story goes, John de Pencester arrived with reinforcements and the Dauphin left. The incident shows Pencester bearing his banner aloft (gules, a cross void or) and his horsemen bearing arbalests, scorpions and other defence weapons. They are shown rushing at the Castle Postern Gate with the Dauphin’s men attacking them as they gallop past. In the foreground on the left is William Longspee, Earl of Salisbury, (c.1176–1226), with six lioncels rampant on his surcoat and wielding a two-handled sword from which he took his name. In the background is a moveable tower frequently used in sieges of that time.
The second window was installed in 1872, produced by William Wailes and shows Henry III (1216-1272) confirming the Charters on the Maison Dieu in 1227. The King, visited the Maison Dieu to assist in the consecration of the Chapel and during the stay he confirmed all the charters that had previously been granted to the Maison Dieu. The King, on the left, is shown enthroned under a canopy and nearby is Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury between 1207 and his death in 1228. Hubert de Burgh is shown kneeling before the King and receiving the deed of confirmation. The king’s guards and other figures are shown in costume typical of the time. The window was given to the town by the Merchants and Citizens of London as ‘ A memorial to the commercial honour and uprightness of Richard Dickeson (1823-1900), Mayor of Dover 1872, 1880, 1881, 1883.’
The third south window shows the Embarkation of Edward III for France from Dover 1359. It was given as a memorial to Robert Taylor (1793-1867), a Commander in the Royal Navy, by his widow. From about 1860, Heaton, Butler and Bayne, who produced the glasswork,were London’s foremost glass design team producing, arguably, the worlds greatest stained glass masterpieces. They made the remaining three windows in the Stone Hall.
This window was installed in 1873 and was the last of the six windows to be completed. It was partly paid for by Sir Richard Dickeson. Captain Taylor was an Hereditary Freeman of Dover who like many local lads joined the Navy at an early age and rose through the ranks. He retired back to Dover after 40 years of distinguished service. At the time, the Town Hall was being refurbished and he expressed the desire to purchase one of the windows. His death, however, left his wife with little funds so Sir Richard paid the difference.
The Window shows Edward III (1327-1377), prior to his second expedition to France in 1359, making a short speech to his followers. They answered with shouts of ‘God and St George!’ The King, his sons and commanders are shown in the foreground and can be identified by the arms on their surcoats. On the left side of the King is Edward the Black Prince (1330-1376), distinguished by the dark colour of his armour. To the right, in the next light, is Sir Bartholomew Burghersh (c1329-1369) and next to him is a knight with a mantle embroidered with the Order of the Garter – founded in 1348. The ship is being pushed off by sailors and the stern is decorated with the banners of Thomas Beauchamp, 3rd Earl of Warwick (1314-1369) and Roger de Mortimer 2nd Earl of March (1328-1359). The occupants can be identified from the arms shown on the surcoats and include Sir James Audley (c.1318–1369) and Humphrey de Bohun (1342-1373) 7th Earl of Hereford, 6th Earl of Essex, 2nd Earl of Northampton
The fourth window was installed in 1864 and depicts the Landing of Emperor Sigismund at Dover in 1415-16. It was presented by Henry P Mackenzie, builder who was one of the contractors commissioned to install the windows. However, the council could not afford to pay him so they offered him the window instead!
On 16 March 1415-16 (new year started on 25 March in those days), Sigismund of Luxembourg, King of Hungary and Croatia (1387-1437) and later Holy Roman Emperor (1433-1437), accompanied by the Archbishop of Rheims, visited Henry V (1413-1422) to bring about what was hoped to be a reconciliation between Henry and the King of France, Charles VI (1380-1422). The imperial ship, as it draws nearer the shore, is met by nobles and barons, including Humphrey of Gloucester (1390-1447) – Lord Warden and Constable of Dover Castle (1415-1447). He is on horseback with his sword drawn and asks if the party comes in peace. On Sigismund disclaiming any war like intentions, he is received with the honours in accordance with his rank. The Emperor is shown standing on the forepart of the ship which is hung with shields bearing the arms of the Emperor and of France. In the light, on the left, is Richard de Beauchamp, 13th Earl of Warwick (1382-1439).
Fifth window, installed in 1860, shows the Embarkation of Henry VIII (1509-1547) at Dover for the Field of the Cloth of Gold, 31 May 1520. The citation reads, ‘In memory of William Allen, a native of this Town, who died in South Australia 15 October 1805.’ In his Will, Thomas Bass – Town Clerk (1847-1860) and one of the founder’s of Stilwell & Harby solicitors, bequeathed a silver vase with lid valued at £200 to pay for the stained glass window. This was in memory of his relative, Captain William Allen. The Captain had rescued the ship Ann in Bombay harbour some years before for which the underwriters had presented Captain Allen with the vase. On his death he had left the vase to Thomas Bass. Above the main scene are the arms of Captain Allen.
The 801-ton Ann was built at Bombay in 1812 and originally carried a full ship rig. She was later re-rigged as a barque, a common practice, later in the century, to reduce crewing costs. However, the ship has achieved lasting fame as she was depicted by Australian artist Frederick Garling (1806-1873) in a water-colour entitled ‘the barque Ann bound for Calcutta, off Millers Point, Sydney, and 13 August 1845.’ The painting sold for £3,585 by Bonham’s in 2004.
The Window shows Henry VIII standing on the gangway of his ship immediately after the embarkation. He is acknowledging the acclamations of his loyal subjects who line the shore. To the King’s right is Sir Thomas Docwra (d1527), the Grand Prior of the Order of St John of Jerusalem from 1501-1527 and a renowned soldier and diplomat. Edward Poynter, drew much of this work from a well-known painting which was, at that time, at Hampton Court. Of local significance, it gives a glimpse of Clarke’s harbour, which was still intact. This was started in 1495 by John Clarke, Master of the Maison Dieu, who turned a small natural cove at Archcliffe Point into a harbour that was the forerunner of Western Docks.
The final window in the Stone Hall was the second one to be installed – 1861 – and depicts the Landing of Charles II (1649-1685) at Dover, on his Restoration, 25 May 1660. The dedication reads, ‘Georgii Thomoe Thompson, per infortunium coeso IX Augusti MDCCCLX Amici et Municiples.’ On 9 August 1860, at Archcliffe Fort, Captain George Thompson and Sergeant John Monger of the 1st Cinque Ports Artillery Volunteers were killed and several others injured during a practice.
George was Dover’s coroner at the time, which led to a problem unique in the legal system, as there was no one to conduct the inquest! The country’s chief Coroner was the Lord Chief Justice of the Queen’s Bench and it was assumed he would appoint someone to act in place of Captain Thompson until the town appointed another coroner. However, the Lord Chief Justice declined, stating that the responsibility lay with the Town Council. Eventually the matter was sorted out and George was buried at Shepherdswell. George’s widow provided some of the pikes and other weapons on display in the Stone Hall, however, the majority of these were presented by the Government from the National Stores at the Tower of London.
The Window shows, on the left, the Mayor of Dover, Thomas Broome, holding in his hand the address that he has just read to Charles II. Kneeling before the King is the Reverend John Reading, former vicar of St Mary’s Church, who had endured much suffering during the Civil Wars and the Interregnum (1642–1660). In the council minutes of the time it states, ‘That on coming ashore, the Mayor of this town, Thomas Broome, Esq., made a speech to his majesty on his knees, and that Mr John Reading, Minister of the Gospel, presented his Majesty with the Holy Bible, as a gift from the town, and his gracious Majesty, laying his hand upon his breast, told the Mayor, nothing should be more dear to him than the Bible.’ Behind the King is General George Monck (1608-1670), who was the first to greet the King on his landing, the King’s brothers, James, Duke of York (b1633) and Henry Stuart, 1st Duke of Gloucester (1640–1660) are behind him.
Council Chamber Windows.
The Council Chamber was added in 1868 and again it was hoped that the plain windows would be replaced by coloured glass depicting royalty who had direct connections with Dover. There are three windows all made by Heaton, Butler and Bayne of London. The figures depicted are those of Kings who are known to have visited the Maison Dieu.
The centre window shows Edward I (1272-1307), Edward II (1307-1327) and Richard II (1377-1399). It was erected by Members of the council and other Burgesses on the retirement of Alderman Steriker Finnis J.P., (1817-1889) from the Corporation. He was Mayor in 1850 and 1851, Alderman 1850-52, 1871-77, 1880-83 and Councillor 1847- 50, 1861-64.
A Liberal, Steriker Finnis, was the owner of Dover’s largest timber yard and was also a builder; he was involved in introducing sanitary reforms that resulted in the adoption of the Public Health Act on 1 December 1848. On 25 September 1852, he resigned from the council, as it was his firm that won the contract for Dover’s main drainage. He took little part in council affairs until 1861. That year, as candidate for Castle Ward, he headed the poll and was a member of the council for most of the following 22 years. However, on 16 June 1883, he resigned through ill health that was to plague him for the rest of his life. In accordance with the requirements of the Municipal Corporations Act of 1883 he was required to pay a fine of £25, which the Council had no option but levying. The Corporation spent the sum with other amounts subscribed, in placing the memorial window in the Council Chamber.
The east window depicts King John (1199-1216) and Henry III (1216-1272) and was presented by Alderman William John Adcock J.P., Mayor 1885-6 and 1890-91, Alderman 1877 to 1883 and 1887 to 1892 and Councillor 1871 to 1877 and 1885-6. He made the presentation when he was given the Honorary Freedom of the Borough in 1892.
The west window is of Henry VIII (1509-1547) and Charles I (1625-1649). Sir Richard Dickeson J.P., Mayor 1871-2, 1879-80, 1880-1 and 1882-3 and Councillor 1853 to 1865 and 1868 to 1883 presented it. On 9 November 1891, Freedom of the Borough was conferred on Sir Richard by his archrival in politics, William Crundall. In the citation, Sir Richard’s philanthropic gestures were given and in particular the provision of the finance to build St Mary’s Church north doorway. In return for his Freedom, Sir Richard paid for the stained glass window.
In 1873, the working men and mechanics, which met in the Dover Institute, wanted to purchase one of the windows in the Town Hall. Their offer was considered favourably and it was suggested that the window should feature Prince Albert, the Prince Consort (1819-1861), who had shown the town great generosity. However, the Prince did not fit in with the overall pattern of the designs chosen so the offer was declined.
Connaught Hall Windows
When Connaught Hall and adjoining rooms, including the Mayor’s Parlour, were built, they had plain windows. Nine stained glass windows around the balcony of Connaught Hall were designed by H W Lonsdale and were to be made by Heaton, Butler and Bayne of London. Each window has three bays and each bay was to represent the figures of historic characters with a connection to Dover. However, only seven of the windows were completed and these days they are sometimes covered. The subjects are of interest especially as three of the characters depicted met their end by execution!
West windows from left to right first: William Longspur or Longspee / Sir Robert de Neresford / William de Averenches or Averanch the first Constable of Dover Castle to be appointed Lord Warden (1226-1227). This window was in memory of Major Daniel Bamfield – 56th Bengal Native Infantry who died of wounds on 13 January 1849 aged 44 at the Battle of Chillianwala. It was presented by Elizabeth Bamfield, wife of William Polling Mummery in 1886.
Centre west: William Devereaux / Hubert de Burgh, 1st Earl of Kent, Lord Warden 1202-1232 / William Longchamp (1197) Lord Chancellor and Chief Justiciar of England. It was erected to commemorate the opening of Connaught Hall by the Duke and Duchess of Connaught, 14 July 1883 and paid for by Richard Dickeson, Mayor
South west: William Peveral or Peverel, Constable of Dover Castle 1066 / Godwyn (1001-1053) Earl of Kent / John de Fienes or Fiennes, Constable of Dover Castle 1084. In memory Jane Anna, William Lindsay and Walter Bamfield, the children of William Polling Mummery and his wife Elizabeth Bamfield, 1886.
North windows first and second from west – plain glass. The drawings were prepared for stained glass windows with one featuring: Stephen de Pencester was Constable of Dover Castle in 1267 and Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports in 1276 until 1297 / Robert de Surland / Hugh Despencer (1267-1297). The second window was to feature: Bertram de Criol (d1256)- Constable of the Castle 1227-1232, 1236-1242 and 1242-1256, Humphrey de Bohun (c1208-1275) – 2nd Earl of Hereford, Lord Warden 1241, and Sir Reginald Cobham de Allington Constable of the Castle (1256-1258)
Third north: Edmund Plantagenet, Lord Warden 1321-1323 Executed 1329 / Ralph Basset, 3rd Baron Basset de Drayton, Lord Warden 1325-6 (nine months) / Henry Cobham – Lord Warden 1306-1307. The constituents of Charles Kaye Freshfield, Dover’s Member of Parliament 1865-68, 1878-80, 1880-85, dedicated the window.
Fourth north: Bartholomew Baron Burghersh – there were two Lord Wardens of this name, father & son / William de Clinton, 1st Earl of Huntingdon, Lord Warden 1330-1343 / Roger de Mortimer, 3rd Baron Mortimer, 1st Earl of March, Lord Warden 1355-1359 Executed. Constituents of Major Alexander George Dickson, Member of Parliament 1865 to his death, erected the Window in 1889.
Fifth north: John de Beauchamp, 1st Baron Beauchamp de Warwick, Lord Warden 1359-1360/ William Latimer, 4th Baron Latimer, Lord Warden 1374 / Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York, 1st Earl of Cambridge, Lord Warden 1376-1381. Erected in memory of Edward Farrand Astley died 12 April 1907, age 95 by the Corporation.
Sixth north: Sir Simon de Burley, Lord Warden 1384-1388, Executed / Sir Thomas Erpingham, Lord Warden 1399-1409 / Thomas Fitzalan, 12th Earl of Arundel and 10th Earl of Surrey, Lord Warden 1413-1415. In memory of Edward Worsfold Mowll who died 26 January 1906 and was erected by his friends.
Edward Worsfold Mowll was one of Dover’s Stalwarts and who did much to ensure the Conservative Party victories in the town. He died after a very short illness on 26 January 1906 and was buried on 30th. On 2 May 1906, a packed public meeting, largely attended by residents of Dover and Kentish towns, decided to erect as a memorial to Worsfold Mowll, as he was known. From the funds collected, it was agreed that a stained glass window in Connaught Hall, a lych gate for St Peter’s Church, Whitfield Church were to be bought and any surplus funds to be given to the charities in which Worsfold Mowll had shown interest. The subscription achieved all three objectives and on 3 October, the window was unveiled in the presence of a large gathering.
To Visit Dover’s Maison Dieu and see the magnificent Windows and hear about the historic venue:
Guided tours are provided by volunteers from The Dover Society and are available on Wednesdays every week from 10am and 4pm (from 1 November to 31 March 10am to 2pm) and last up to an hour. For further information and group bookings, please telephone from the UK: code: 01304 and either 205108 / 206458 / 823926. Outside the UK the code: 44 0304 plus the number.
- Dover Mercury 13 & 20 February 2014