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Brook House

In the mid 19th century, Mr William Moxon, a man of bold  initiative, became the contractor for town drainage, and large  works of fortification at the Western Heights. He took in hand  the land known as Maison Dieu Park, which had been  earmarked for residential building but had not yet been  developed. He formulated a general scheme for widening  Charlton Back Lane (Maison Dieu Road) and planned a new  road across the river Dour into Biggin Street (Pencester Road). Expecting to make a large fortune out of his various  undertakings, both in Dover and London, he reserved the  greater part of the Maison Dieu Park above Pencester Road for  his own use. It was here that he built Brook House as his  residence. The park, alongside Charlton Back Lane, had been  bounded by an ancient stone wall, which Mr Moxon demolished  in 1860, and set back his iron railings as a boundary to the  Brook House grounds. The new road, which became Maison  Dieu Road, was 30 feet wide in accordance with the plans  drawn up by the Town Surveyor. Mr Moxon only occupied Brook House for a short time. It was  afterwards the residence of Major-General Ellice, Commandant  of the South-Eastern District. Subsequently Mr John  Birmingham, the proprietor of the Lord Warden Hotel who was  also Mayor of Dover four times, purchased it. On retiring from  business he made Brook House his residence and died there in  February 1875, aged 80 years. The mansion remained in the  hands of the Birmingham family until August 1886, when it  was sold by auction for £6,000. Soon after the sale the lower part of the grounds was used for  building. A row of seven houses was built on one side of a  short road called The Paddock. On the opposite side of The  Paddock, adjoining Brook House grounds, a Girls’ High School  was built (this red brick building now forms part of South Kent  College).   In 1920 the house was purchased by Dover Corporation for  use as municipal offices. The last private owners were the  Misses Humphreys, to whom the Council paid £5,000 for the  property. The Misses Humphreys vacated the premises in  September 1921 having negotiated a tenancy from the Council  until they could move into their new house. Brook House was  then converted by the Corporation to provide offices for the  Town Clerk, Borough Accountant, Medical Officer of Health and other departments. On the grounds between the house and  Maison Dieu Road municipal tennis courts were laid out. In  1957 a modern extension was built on the back of the original  building to house the Borough Treasurer’s Department.   In the Local Government Reorganisation of 1974 Dover  Borough Council was wound up and its functions were taken  over by the newly formed Dover District Council. Brook House  passed to the new authority and became home to the District  Council Finance Department.   The new Council, whose boundaries now included the towns of  Dover, Deal and Sandwich and the surrounding villages, was  faced with the problem of having its available office space  scattered over the district. This problem was solved in the 1980s by the building of a new  office complex at Whitfield, on the outskirts of Dover, complete with Council Chamber. The Finance Department left Brook  House at the end of 1987. The house stood empty after this and it was announced that  the Council wished to demolish it to build a car park. There  was great public outcry at this and moves were made to have  the building listed. Then overnight the building was  demolished, contractors working on Saturday 16 July 1988 to  reduce it to a pile of rubble. Unfortunately the only monument  to this once lovely building is the tarmac of Maison Dieu Car  Park.
Brook House c.1890. Looking across the garden from Maison Dieu Road. A map showing Brook House and grounds in 1884.  The garden seen in the photograph above can be clearly seen on the map. Brook House demolition 16 July 1988. Brook House demolition 16 July 1988. Brook House demolition 16 July 1988. Back to Buildings Index Brook House demolition. After. Brook House demolition. Before.