The Guild or Court Hall 1605-1861

The Guildhall 1605-1861


Dover Market, 1822 

The Guildhall was built in the centre of the Market Square in Dover in 1605-1606 and first recorded use was in May 1607. It replaced an earlier Guildhall, perhaps the "Gihalla of the Burgesses", one of three houses that were in the possession of William, son of Goisfrid (William fitzGeoffrey) in 1086 as recorded in the Doomsday or Domesday Book. This new building was not on the same site as the old, as the town accounts record details of both the old and new Guildhall until 1626. The old Guildhall, then sold for £47.00 to a Londoner.

The new Guildhall replaced the Market Cross and was built on pillars to accommodate the market beneath it. It was originally fifty feet long and "of convenyant bredth" suggesting it was rectangular.  It was extended, possibly to the southeast, by the mayor, John Benger (1620-1621), and a room was further added for the Court of Admiralty in 1639.

The upper floor housed the court hall where the business of the Corporation was transacted. It was reached by an external staircase attached to the building from the southwest. 


Dover Market Place from 'Gent's Magazine', 1788 

The Corporation accounts relating to the construction survive and an interesting insight into the wealth of the town and the source of the building materials. The structure was mostly built of wood, with twenty tons coming from Woodchurch by way of Appledore, then a lighter (a shallow bottomed water craft) from Rye and a further ten tons of wood also brought by sea.  Stones were quarried from the ruins of St Martin's church and glass was shipped from Dieppe and installed by Thomas Wimbleton. 




Contact Us

Dover Museum
Market Square
Kent CT16 1PH

Tel: 01304 201066


Opening Hours

April - September: 9.30-5.00 Monday to Saturday,
10.00 - 3.00 Sunday 
October - March: Monday -Saturday 9.30 - 17.00
Closed Sunday.
Closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day.

Free Admission