The Market Square,1605-1861

The Market Square

 The Old Market House, 1858.  Artist: William Burgess (1805-1861)


This painting by local artist, William Burgess, shows the ground floor of the Court Hall or Guildhall in Market Square a few years before its demolition. This was the site of the main market for Dover since its construction in the early 17th century.

This Guildhall or Court Hall replaced the Market Cross and was built on pillars so that the market could still be held beneath it.  The pillars were decorated, as Burgess' picture illustrates, with  wooden corbels.  An example, believed to have come from this building, is displayed in the Museum's history gallery. There is evidence that this hall replaced an earlier structure, although the exact location of this remains, at this time, unknown. 

In 1825, it was decided to erect a market for the sale of fish and this is probably the five-sided extension described as Shambles on the map below.  

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 Map c1830 showing the Market Place.

The upper floor of the building served as the Town Hall and Law Courts. This floor was rented to the Dover Philsophical Institute, founded in 1836,  after the corporation brought the Maison Dieu to act as the civic centre of the town in 1835. The current Museum building was built in 1848 on the site of the Gaol. This originally incoroporated a covered market on the ground floor. Until 1861, when the Guildhall building was demolished, the original market continued in direct competition to the new one.  As this image from the early 1900s shows, traders still continued to operate in the square after this time, protected under ancient rights as long as they paid a fee to the local government board.


The Market Square c.1910


Please click here to view the report from the 2021 Market Square archaeological investigations carried out by Canterbury Archaeological Trust.






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Dover Museum
Market Square
Kent CT16 1PH

Tel: 01304 201066


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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.

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