After the Norman Conquest much of Saxon Dover was rebuilt. The town benefited from the increase in cross channel trade and the carrying of passengers between France and England, stimulated by William the Conqueror. Great improvements were made to the castle. By 1190 the massive stone keep and inner walls or bailey surrounding it were complete.
The thirteenth century saw many attacks on the town by French forces including the almost successful 1216 siege of the castle by Prince Louis and a great raid of 1295 when 10,000 French burnt most of Dover to the ground.
The Cinque Ports
In about 1050 the five ports of Dover, Sandwich, Hastings, Romney and Hythe joined together to provide ships and men for the King, Edward the Confessor. They became known as the Cinque Ports (after the French word for five, but always pronounced as 'sink' not 'sank'). In return for providing naval and ferry services these towns received many rights and privileges.
Today the Cinque ports have only a ceremonial role, but locally a base for the Lord Warden of the Ports is still provided at Walmer Castle, and new Lords Warden are always installed at Dover.
After the Norman Conquest many new stone churches and religious houses were built. Much of Dover's medieval history concerns the various churches and religious houses which were established in and around the town.
St. Mary's Church : St. Mary's Church is of early Norman origin built on the foundations of a Roman structure.
The Maison Dieu : Founded in 1203 by Hubert de Burgh, the Maison Dieu was built as a hospice for pilgrims. Today it is part of Dover's Town Hall and is open to visitors.
Dover Priory : Founded in 1130, Dover Priory was dedicated to St. Martin and intended to house Augustinian monks. Henry VIII confiscated the land and buildings which became a farm. Today it houses Dover College, a private school.
Monday to Saturday 9.30am-5pm
Sunday (April-Sept) 10am-3pm
Closed Sundays October to March
Closed December 25th, 26th and 1st January
Pay once and apply for an annual membership card which allows free admission to the museum for a year.