Lord Warden House at Daybreak, Admiralty Pier, Western Docks, Dover, Kent, UK

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John Latter on December 19, 2010

The former Lord Warden Hotel and World War II, HMS Wasp Shore Station, is a Grade II Listed Building and situated at the landward end of the Admiralty Pier in the Western Docks of Dover Harbour.

The building with three arches behind the Lord Warden used to house the railway station referred to below (but is now Cruise Terminal 1).

This zoomed view was taken at daybreak from over 600 yards away at St Martin`s Battery on top of the Western Heights cliffs.

The following is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under the terms of the Click-Use Licence (PSI licence number C2010002016) with the HISTORY entry presented first:

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 (2) 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 (3), William Makepeace Thackeray and the deposed Emperor Napoleon III (4) 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 Royal 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.

Building Details:

Building Name: LORD WARDEN HOUSE Parish: DOVER District: DOVER County: KENT Postcode:


LBS Number: 177742 Grade: II Date Listed: 17/12/1973 Date Delisted: NGR: TR3189440330

Listing Text:

685/7/91 LORD WARDEN SQUARE 17-DEC-73 Lord Warden House


II Former Lord Warden Hotel. 1848-1853 by Samuel Beazley (1786-1851). Early-C20 (C20 = 20th Century) 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 (C20 = 20th Century) 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.

SOURCES: 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

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: 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.

Source: English Heritage. Click to see photos of Listed Buildings and English Heritage locations in the town of Dover, England.

(1) Grade II: buildings that are "nationally important and of special interest".

(2) Also see the Dover Priory Railway Station photo. The railway station once adjacent to the Lord Warden Hotel was once known as Dover Marine, then Dover Western Docks.

(3) Other photos which mention Charles Dickens include:

David Copperfield and the Dickens Corner Cafe

Charles Dickens and Pilot`s Meadow

Indian Mutiny Memorial, Charles Dickens, Roman Empire

(4) Emperor Napoleon III gave a volutionary contribution to St Mary`s Primary School in Dover, which I was once a pupil of.

John Latter / Jorolat

Dover Blog: The Psychology of a Small Town

This is the Images of Dover website: click on any red or blue "John Latter" link to access the Entry Page.

John Latter on December 19, 2010
John Latter on December 19, 2010

Louis Bleriot made the first air-crossing of the English Channel on Sunday 25th July 1909 and then visited the Lord Warden Hotel (1):

When Bleriot climbed out of his cockpit, he was embraced with Gallic fervor by two Frenchmen, and photographed with the correspondent not from the Daily Mail but from Le Matin - together with the flag of France prominently displayed.

...But the British had Bleriot in tow moments after this display of chauvinism. After breakfast at the Lord Warden Hotel, he was approached by three authorities from the customshouse, who - in the best traditions of their office - solemnly asked him if he had anything to declare. On answering in the negative, the flyer was granted clearance by an immigration officer in the following historic terms:

"I certify I have examined Louis Bleriot, master of a vessel "Monoplane," lately arrived from Calais, and that it appears by the verbal answers of the said master to the questions put to him that there has not been on board during the voyage any infectious disease demanding detention of the vessel, and that she is free to proceed"

Bleriot proceeded to London, where, through endless festivities, he was cheered, applauded, and praised.

Click to see all photos of the Louis Bleriot Memorial in Northfall Meadow behind Dover Castle.

(1) From "Contact! The Story of the Early Aviators" (Henry Villard, 2002).

John Latter on November 16, 2013

Also see a close-up of the Old Customs Watch House on the South Pier of Dover Harbour.

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on December 19, 2010
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by John Latter
    • Camera: PENTAX Corporation PENTAX K100D
    • Taken on 2010/08/25 05:40:12
    • Exposure: 5.000s
    • Focal Length: 0.00mm
    • F/Stop: f/11.000
    • ISO Speed: ISO200
    • Exposure Bias: 0.00 EV
    • No flash