Kieron Hoyle

Kieron Hoyle is researching the history of the Maison Dieu under the Tudors and exploring the relationship with town and Crown

A doctoral research project is set to uncover the role of Dover’s Maison Dieu under the late Tudors as work gets underway on a two-year, £10.5m Lottery funded restoration of the Grade I Listed building and Scheduled Monument. 

Kieron Hoyle, a former history teacher at Dover Grammar School for Boys and now a senior lecturer at Canterbury Christ Church University, is researching the Maison Dieu’s development following the Reformation and Dissolution of the monasteries as part of her PhD.

Kieron said: “The Maison Dieu is a fascinating building but there has been little research into the period following the Reformation and its surrender to the Crown. My project will explore the history of the Maison Dieu under the Tudors and this remarkable building’s relations with the town of Dover and the Crown. It is also an opportunity to explore a time in history when Calais was still held by the English Crown.”

Originally founded as a medieval hospital in the early 1200s, the Maison Dieu was surrendered to the Crown in 1544. The last master of the Maison Dieu, John Thompson, used the hospital to store materials for the new harbour works in Dover and it became a victualling yard, supplying ships of the Tudor Navy as Britain emerged as a maritime power.

Ironically, it was Henry VIII who effectively closed the Maison Dieu with the Dissolution, but who brought about the next chapter in its history in helping lay the foundations of the future Royal Navy!

The research is funded by The Janus Foundation via the Ian Coulson Memorial Postgraduate Awards scheme at Canterbury Christ Church University. It is linked to the ‘Kent’s Maritime Communities’ project jointly run by the University of Southampton and Canterbury Christ Church University.

Kieron’s research is being supervised by Dr Sheila Sweetinburgh, Lecturer in Medieval and Early Modern Studies, and Co-Director of the Centre for Kent History and Heritage at Canterbury Christ Church University. The Maison Dieu was one of the case studies in Dr Sweetinburgh’s own doctorate on Kent’s medieval hospitals, ‘The Role of the Hospital in Medieval England: Gift-giving and the Spiritual Economy’ (2004).

Dr Sweetinburgh said: “This is a great opportunity to take forward the story of what happened to the Maison Dieu after it was no longer needed as a hospital for poor pilgrims. It will help to demonstrate the importance of early modern Dover and the relationship between Crown and town, as well as Dover’s place as a gateway to Europe and beyond.”

Cllr Oliver Richardson, Dover District Council’s portfolio holder for corporate property, said: “Our project to reawaken the Maison Dieu has sparked so much interest in the fascinating story of this remarkable 800-year-old building. We’re delighted to be working with Kieron and Canterbury Christ Church University to uncover more about the story of the Maison Dieu during the reign of the Tudors.”

By Ed

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