Dover’s Grade I Listed Maison Dieu – once graced itself by Royal patronage – hosts a Platinum Jubilee celebration on Friday 3 and Saturday 4 June from 10am to 4pm with free, fun activities for all the family.
The Maison Dieu played host to HM The Queen on her very first visit to Dover as Monarch on 28 March 1958. Having arrived in Dover harbour on the Royal Yacht Britannia, HM The Queen accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh attended a civic reception at the Maison Dieu.
Historically, Royal patronage marked the Maison Dieu out from many other medieval hospitals. Patronage passed from Hubert de Burgh, the first Earl of Kent to King Henry III who was present at the dedication of the new chapel at the Maison Dieu in 1227.
The Maison Dieu was frequently visited by the Kings of England on their journeys to and from the Continent and was where some momentous events of state took place. King Richard III is said to have appointed his Regent at the Maison Dieu before sailing to France.
Edward II, Edward III, Richard II, Henry V and Henry VI are also recorded as having visited the Maison Dieu.
As part of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations, visitors will be able to chat to expert conservators as they clean one of the finest Royal portraits in the Maison Dieu collection, William III, or William of Orange, painted in 1694 by the renowned Dutch artist, Willem Wissing.
The symbols of Monarchy can be seen throughout the Maison Dieu and visitors to the Platinum Jubilee celebrations can take inspiration from the magnificent stained-glass windows of the Maison Dieu to create their own crown fit for a King or Queen!
The Maison Dieu contains fine examples of secular stained-glass, many featuring the Kings of England, from King John to Charles II.
Visitors can also find out how Dover celebrated the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, explore a fascinating collection of Coronation memorabilia, and listen to the Royal memories of local people.
The Maison Dieu is currently undergoing a £9.1m reawakening with the National Lottery Heritage Fund, including the restoration of a stunning interior decorative scheme for William Burges’ Victorian Gothic revival Connaught Hall where the Maison Dieu’s Royal connections continue.
It was HRH Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught, Queen Victoria’s third son, who opened the Connaught Hall on 14 July 1883. The Duchess of Connaught went on to open Connaught Park in Dover later the same day.
Cllr Trevor Bartlett, Leader of Dover District Council, said: “It is fitting that the Maison Dieu is the focus for our Platinum Jubilee celebrations. The Maison Dieu has played host to Kings and Queens throughout its 800-year history, from royal patronage under Henry III to Queen Elizabeth’s first visit to the district as monarch in 1958.
“We look forward to welcoming everyone to the Maison Dieu to explore these unique Royal connections and to learn more about the fascinating history that we’re bringing to life with our Lottery-funded restoration.”