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Lord Warden House, Dover

Description: Lord Warden House

Grade: II
Date Listed: 17 December 1973
English Heritage Building ID: 177742

OS Grid Reference: TR3189440330
OS Grid Coordinates: 631894, 140330
Latitude/Longitude: 51.1153, 1.3119

Location: Lord Warden Square, Dover, Kent CT17 9DQ

Locality: Dover
Local Authority: Dover District Council
County: Kent
Country: England
Postcode: CT17 9DQ

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Listing Text

17-DEC-73 Lord Warden House

(Formerly listed as:

Former Lord Warden Hotel. 1848-1853 by Samuel Beazley (1786-1851). Early-C20 extension to north, C20 interior alterations.

MATERIALS: Stuccoed exterior with slate roof and timber sliding sash windows.

PLAN: Near square plan with a central well. Principal entrance to the west. Open-well stair to centre of north side.

EXTERIOR: Four storeys with single storey range to south. Early-C20 extension to the north with four storeys plus mezzanine. The extension extends the east and west elevations to the north by two bays. A low boundary wall runs along the south and east elevations.

The building has a parapet with dropped bracketed cornice and a band of Vitruvian scrolls beneath third floor windows to east, west and south elevations, and a cornice to north. First floor window heads have cornices on brackets and ballustrading. The ground floor is rusticated with round-headed windows. A modillioned cornice runs above the ground floor windows, to the north it follows the curve of the round heads of the mezzanine level windows. Windows are six-over-six sliding sashes, three-over-three on the third floor.

To the west elevation a portico supported on Tuscan columns marks the main entrance into the building. To the south a single storey range runs across almost the full width of the elevation and is detailed to match the ground floor of the main building. There is a central porch with pediment that protrudes in line with the boundary wall.

INTERIOR: Some elements of the original ground floor interiors survive, in particular decorative plasterwork and joinery. There have been a number of alterations to the internal layout and some parts of the building have been modernised for office use. The building is entered from the west into a lower lobby with a modern internal screen. A short flight of steps, flanked by marble Ionic columns, leads to an upper lobby from which hallways run to left and right. Decorative plaster cornices and wall and ceiling panels survive. To the centre of the north side of the building is an open-well staircase with decorative cast-iron balusters and a hardwood handrail. A pair of Ionic columns and pilasters at ground floor level to the south of the stairwell, and a pair of marble Tuscan columns and pilasters at mezzanine level to the north of the stairwell, support moulded lintels and possibly once framed views through large internal spaces. A modern lift shaft runs up the centre of the stairwell. The rich interior of the ballroom to the east side of the building is largely complete, with marble floor, wainscot, Ionic columns and chimneypieces. Decorative plasterwork on the walls and ceiling survive. There is some simple modern subdivision.

HISTORY: Dover had long been a popular destination for cross-Channel travellers. With the arrival of the railway in 1844, Dover became more convenient for those crossing to and from the Continent, and the location of the Lord Warden Hotel next to the Town Station ensured its success as one of Dover's principal transit hotels.

Samuel Beazley (1786-1851), architect and playwright, was born in London and trained in the office of his uncle, Charles Beazley (c.1760-1829). Samuel Beazley went on to become the leading theatre architect of his time and the first notable English expert in this field. Beazley designed or substantially redesigned seven London theatres including the Lyceum (originally the New Theatre Royal English Opera House) and the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. His non-theatre work included a variety of commercial, civic and residential commissions; one of his clients being the South Eastern Railway, responsible for bringing the first line in to Dover in 1844, and for whom he built the Lord Warden Hotel.

The hotel attracted rich clientele on their way to and from the Continent. Charles Dickens, William Makepeace Thackeray and the deposed Emperor Napoleon III were all guests. The original front elevation was to the north, with a large projecting portico supported on pairs of columns. Between 1866 and 1898 an enclosed walkway was constructed to link the Town Station with the west entrance to the hotel, and between 1898 and 1907 the whole of the north side of the building was extended out and the north elevation rebuilt as a side elevation. The west elevation became the principal elevation.

During the Second World War the hotel was taken over by the Navy, becoming known as HMS Wasp. It was the headquarters for the Coastal Force, made up of motor torpedo boats, motor gun boats and air-sea rescue craft. This was where the crews were billeted and the signal section, plotting rooms and offices were located.

Since the war the building has been used as offices for the Southern Region of British Rail (being re-named Southern House), HM Customs and Excise, the shipping line Stena, and since 1999, when the building was bought by Dover Harbour Board and re-named Lord Warden House, by freight agents.

Colonel B E Arnold, Conflict Across the Strait (1982), p155
Dover Terminal 2 Historic Environment Baseline Report, Maritime Archaeology Ltd (2008)
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Entry for Samuel Beazley

Lord Warden House, the former Lord Warden Hotel, Dover, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Lord Warden House is an imposing example of a purpose-built railway hotel, which retains much of its original fabric and character, built at a time when railway transport was revolutionising the opportunity for travel.
* The grandeur of the building and it's rich interior decoration reflect the wealth and status of the clientele it was intended to, and did, attract, and the importance of Dover as a primary route between England and the Continent.
* Dover was a strategic port during the Second World War and the use of the Lord Warden Hotel as HMS Wasp, headquarters of the Coastal Force, associates the building directly with this major international conflict.

This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.