Dover Corporation, the local authority of the time, had its instruments of punishment and correction in the Market Square. These were the stocks, pillory and whipping post. Punishments were harsh.
In 1558 a pickpocket, Richard Shoveler, had one ear nailed to the pillory and a knife placed in his hand. He had to decide whether to stand and be jeered at, or to free himself by cutting off his ear. We don’t know what he decided to do!
In 1727 these items of punishment were made portable. The ground on which they stood was absorbed into the frontages of the buildings owned by James Hammond on the west side of the square.
Looking down Castle Street, Victoria Park mansions can be seen below the Castle. This crescent of fine Victorian townhouses was built in 1847 as residences for “Military, Naval and Other Gentlemen”. Castle Street itself was built in 1830 and not opened up into the Market Square until 1837.
The Market Square became the hub of the expanding town with the widening of King Street and removal of the old Guildhall building, followed by the widening of Cannon Street and the introduction of trams at the end of the nineteenth century.
The square has been the scene of many parades and celebrations. It was decorated in 1883 for a visit by the Duke and Duchess of Connaught. They opened the new assembly room at the then Town Hall and the new park on Castle Hill, both named after the Duke.
Hustings (nominations for political candidates) were held here on temporary wooden platforms. Nominations were by a show of hands. Elections were colourful affairs with parades and bands, but sometimes violence broke out. This was not confined to the crowd. During one hustings in 1865, for candidates Major Dickson and Mr Freshfield, there was a fight on the platform between one councillor and the son of another.
April - September: 9.30-5.00 Monday to Saturday,
10.00 - 3.00 Sunday
October - March: Monday -Saturday 9.30 - 17.00
Closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day.