Medieval Dover

Medieval Dover


During the medieval times, Dover had a lot of trading and following the Norman Conquest most of the Saxon Dover was rebuilt. There was a lot of exchange which was brought about between France and England and many people moved between the two areas.  During medieval times a lot of improvements were made to the Dover Castle and by 1190, there was a large stone keep and the bailey was found surrounding it. The 13th century however saw many attacks which were brought about by the French forces. France invaded Dover and during 1216, there was a siege of the castle by the Prince Louis which was very close to becoming successful. There was a great raid in 1295 and during this time 10,000 Frenchmen burnt most of Dover.

The cinque ports of Dover were very famous and it was built roughly in 1050. The five ports were Dover, Sandwich Romney, Hastings and Hythe which joined together to provide ships along with men for King at that time, Edward the Confessor. These 5 towns came to be known as the Cinque Ports. This name originated from the French word for five and is called sink rather than sank. As these cities provided a lot of naval and ferry services, these towns gained a lot of privileges and rights.

However, today these Cinque Ports do not have a big role to play and is present ceremonially. Locally a base for the Lord Warden of the Ports is however provided at the Walmer Castle. Similarly, the new Lords Warden is installed at Dover. Following the Norman Conquest, there have been many new stone churches which have been built. These religious houses are present even to this day. These structures form a rich medieval history.

Some of the examples of the churches are the St. Mary’s Church which was built on the foundations of the Roman structure during early Norman times. The Maison Dieu which is part of Dover’s Town Hall is also visible today and is open to visitors. This structure was built as a hospice for pilgrims. The Dover Priory which was founded in 1130 was dedicated to St. Martin and it was intended to house the Augustinian monks. The King Henry VIII turned the land into a farm which he confiscated. Today, Dover College is visible at this place.

The city of Dover has a unique heritage and has been passed down through the generations. Today it is visited by many to view the area and understand the historical backdrop.