We are

The Friends of Dover Castle

Dover Castle
Friends of Dover Castle Membership

The FRIENDS now have regular Monthly Meetings

Yes Friends, we are now set up to have regular monthly meetings – the first Monday of each month and if the Monday is a Bank Holiday we meet on the Tuesday !

Each month will have a theme and all members are welcome but you must let us know in advance, as we are limited to how many we can accommodate.

There is normally a short agenda to discuss urgent matters.

We have a library of books that relate specifically to the Castle, Dover and the various war time periods. We also now have an antique ‘plans chest’ that holds a number of Castle drawings, maps and plans which have been kindly donated to the Friends by our Honorary Vice President, Mrs Wendi Atherton. These will be periodically displayed on open days and can be viewed at our monthly meetings.

Anyhow, why not come and help us clean and scrub and generally smarten our accommodation up and have a coffee and a chat at the same time, you never know we might even throw a ‘cheese & wine party’ !


MEETING DATES 2024

Tuesday 2nd May
Monday 3th June
Monday 1st July
Tuesday 6th August
Monday 2nd September
Monday 8th October
Monday 4th November
Monday 2nd December

Success Stories

The Friends of Dover Castle will be supporting the Castle’s main event of the year – the WW2 Weekend over the weekend 25th > 27th May.

Our volunteers will be participating in the general WW2 theme for the weekend and as part of this we will also be including a “Dig For Victory” element with authentic props from the era as well as posters of the time. Volunteers will don authentic period military uniforms / Womens Land Army clothing.

If you are visiting the Castle for this spectacular WW2 event please come and visit us in Constables Tower Kitchen Garden and see how we have transformed a neglected part of this historic castle.

Come and learn about the Friends, and if you like us, why not join us !

"My wife and and I thoroughly enjoyed our visit to your castle and the British Army Home Guard exhibits were the highlight of our day "

Bud Anderson, Alabama USA

"Lovely afternoon visiting the Kitchen Garden, the Friends have done a wonderful job restoring it, loved the WLA outfits very fetching !

Iris Partridge, Briddlington

"Beautiful garden so English and thank you to the lovely gentleman in uniform who explained the various army items on show, our grandson was amazed, keep up the good work"

Lillian Westwood, New Hampshire US

"First time visiting this year and the garden already looks beautiful and really excited to see how it blooms throughout the year. The team were so friendly and passionate about this beautiful part of the castle....wonderful to see"

Natasha, Dover

"Beautiful gardens so wonderful to see, wonderful and knowledgeable staff"

Courtney, Folkestone

"First time visiting Dover and this garden was so beautiful"

Ansley & Phillip, Atlanta, GA, USA

"Amazing everything, thanks"

Kate, Nadia, Mar, Khrysd, Ukraine

"Love this ! "

Emilia, Slovakia

Graham and Mark

The Friends of Dover Castle was founded in 1986 and constituted as a Registered Charity with the Charity Commission in 1987.
The aims and objectives are to support and promote Dover Castle.

Here seated in our new Jubilee Arbour is vice Chairman Mark Danson and Chairman Graham Hutchison (dressed in his Volunteer re-enactment WW1 Gunner uniform).

Graham with Mike, Martin, Gordon

The Friends of Dover Castle Dover Community Time Capsule Project

Graham Hutchison, the Chairman, pictured here with Chairman of Dover District Council, Mike Connolly, Maison Dieu Project Development Officer Martin Crowther, and the Mayor of Dover

Gordon Cowan at the official launch.

Lowering the Capsule v2

The Time Capsule was Graham’s idea as he felt Dover District had so much going for it that we needed something positive to do coming out of the Covid pandemic. Local residents were able to make suggestions and donate items to go into the Capsule so it became a whole community project.

The capsule was buried on 9th November 2022 and a reception was held in the Riverside Community Hub.

Kitchen Garden March 2022

The Kitchen Garden Project 2022

The Friends started this project in March 2022 and its aim was to restore the garden to its former glory after laying dormant for some 15 years. The Kitchen Garden once produced vegetables and fruit for the Deputy Constables family and household servants. The last resident Deputy Constable was Brigadier Claydon between 2013 and 2015 although the garden is not thought to have been productive during these years. The image below shows how the garden looked when we took on this project back in March 2022.

Kitchen Garden March 2023

The Kitchen Garden Project 2023

Year 1 was all about preparation of the ground and setting out the plot.

A huge effort was required to clear the plot of weeds and deep seated tree roots which had combined to set the soil solid. Several attempts with a rotavator proved futile so it was down to sheer hard work with a spade  and fork !

It took about 3 months to get things relatively workable so then began the task of designing a plan. Our first year produced a relatively good crop of vegetables given the poor condition of the soil but there were areas where significant improvement of the soil structure was required

In the picture below Project leader Mark talks over the plan with volunteer John in late Winter 2023.

The plan for Autumn 2023 was mulch, mulch and then more mulch !

 

 

Kitchen Garden May 2024

Progress in the Garden 2024

So after a heavy mulching in the Autumn of 2023 we waited anxiously to see just how effective this procedure had been. In February 2024, and in order to compliment the ‘mulching’ we decided to instigate a ‘no dig policy’ to help preserve the soil structure and enable the bacteria and worms to work their magic.

The combination of these two procedures has resulted in a very significant improvement in the soil structure and its water retention properties. The ‘no dig’ method of gardening involves planting through the mulch layer without disturbing the underlying soil, and we are already seeing huge improvements in plant health and condition.

This is still a work in progress and the plan is to increase the volume of mulch deposited onto the plot this coming Autumn. But as it stands, vegetable and salad crops are on course to give us a very decent crop. Come along to one of our open days and you might just get to sample some of this Dover Castle grown produce ! The image below was taken in May 2024.

 

As a member of the Friends you get to go places and see things other people do not!

We organise regular tours to areas such as DUMPY, the lower level of the underground tunnels where the Regional Centre of Government would have been sited in the event of a Nuclear War. The Cold War was at it’s height between the 1950’s and late 1980’s.

We also do a range of other tours and events – Behind Locked Doors; The Stone Hut; Hudson’s Passage and the East Demi Bastion; the Officer’s New Barracks; Constables Tower and Debtors Prison.

Last year we also did a unique special tour called ‘Invisible Castle’, which gave us a view of what the Castle was like in Medieval times.

We also hold talks and a regular Carol Concert in St Mary-in-Castro Church located within the castle grounds.

More recently we organised a really special talk by the Company who advise film makers on filming in Scheduled Ancient Monuments.

Watch this space for an announcement on forthcoming tours

Our new Potting Shed

We have just purchased a quality potting shed from Eagle Sheds at Sandwich. Our Gardening Team have been busy over the last few months sowing and planting and generally having fun, it will be ready to view on our Open Days in April.

To find out what it’s also used for………..you’ll need to come and have a look !

Come and see at our OPEN DAYS in 2024

Potting Shed at Dover Castle
Potting Shed Inside