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The Market Square

The origins of the name are quite obvious but it is unclear  quite when its use as a market place started. The market  probably owed its origins to St Martin’s Fair, an annual event  established about 1160 in the market place. The church of St  Martin-le-Grand stood on the western side of the Market  Square.  On the northern side of the Market Square another church  once stood, on the site now occupied by Lloyds Bank. There  is no drawing or description to indicate what St Peter’s  Church looked like but some stonework, discovered during  the building of Lloyds Bank, suggests that it dated from the  11th Century. It was the official church of the Mayor and  Corporation, and from 1367 until 1581 members of  Parliament and Mayors of Dover were elected there. From its  tower the curfew bell was rung and many of the leading  citizens of Dover were buried in the chancel, the last  recorded being in 1572.   In 1581 St Peter’s had so fallen into disrepair that it could no  longer be used and the Corporation moved to St Mary’s  Church. Not long after this Queen Elizabeth I made a grant of  St Peter’s to the Corporation, to be sold to raise money for  the repair of the harbour. Unfortunately the harbour saw  none of the money as, in 1584, Thomas Allen, the former  Mayor, absconded with the proceeds. After this the church  was demolished and shops and houses built along the  northern side of the Market Square. In 1605 the Corporation built itself a Guildhall in the Market  Square. This building consisted of a large room on the upper  floor supported on carved wooden pillars. The upper room  was used for council meetings and as a court room and under  it were market stalls. The Guildhall was used by the council  until 1836 when they moved to the Maison Dieu.   After the departure of the Corporation a Town Museum was  started on the upper floor of the Guildhall. The Museum  remained here until 1848 when it moved to new premises  above the Market Hall, which had been built on the site of the Town Gaol. In 1861 the old Guildhall was demolished.   The Town Gaol stood on the south side of the Market Square  from 1746. In May 1820 the old gaol was destroyed by a mob  intent on liberating some smugglers who were imprisoned  there. It was rebuilt the same year and remained in use until  the new prison was built at the Maison Dieu in 1834.   In the north-eastern corner of the square is the site of the  old established bakers, Igglesden and Graves, whose shop is  mentioned in the novel David Copperfield by Charles Dickens.  The premises are now occupied by the ‘Dickens Corner’ tea  room.   Flashman’s furniture store, another long-established Dover  business, faced Igglesden and Graves across the Castle  Street exit. This side of the square suffered considerable  damage during the Second World War and although  Flashman’s building survived, it was demolished the early  1960s.  
Market Square in 1822. The Guildhall stands in the middle of the square. To the right of the Guildhall in the distance can be seen the Town Gaol. The Town Gaol.  The gaol as rebuilt after being destroyed by a mob in 1820. Market Square c.1905. Market Square, World War One. Soldiers parading out of Castle Street between Igglesden & Graves on one corner and Flashman's on the other. Back to Streets Index