The Prince of Wales House
(formerly named prospect House) is on the western side of York Street standing
between the Battle of Britain and York House block of flats. The property is
bounded on three sides by Princes Street, Cowgate Hill and Durham Hill.
For some time during its life and until at least 1938 there were three front
doors facing Princes Street. At some date these three houses plus adjoining
cottages on Durham Hill and one on Cowgate Hill became one internally. The joins
are quite obvious with different floor levels both across the building and from
front to back. Some of the front bedrooms have steps down to their floor level
as soon as you enter the bedrooms from the landing - most unusual. The roof line
of the Durham Hill cottages is still distinctive. The property includes the
large hall at the rear fronting Durham Hill.
The cellars have thick chalk walls and possibly the start of a tunnel heading
down the hill in the direction of The Cause is Altered - possibly used by
smugglers and possibly predating the mansion. No documentary evidence has been
found to indicate there being a tunnel under this building.
A good idea of the extent of the building can be gained from the estate agent's
literature when the premises were put on the market in 1994 viz. Ground floor :-
reception area and office, common room, kitchen, utility room, private sitting
room, lobby, staff flat (sitting room, conservatory, bedroom, hall, kitchen and
bathroom), laundry room, linen room, toilet, store room, cellar (boiler room):
first floor :- flat (entrance hall, dining room, sitting room, 2 bedrooms,
cloakroom with toilet, kitchen/breakfast room, bathroom and hall), 7 bedrooms,
bathroom: first floor annexe :- rear hall, gymnasium/hall (6 pillars, vaulted
ceiling and woodblock floor) plus 2 storage rooms, showers and toilets, 3
bedrooms; second floor : 14 bedrooms, bathrooms and toilet, communal bathroom
with 3 toilets and 4 wash hand basins, landing, outside :- internal courtyard,
front drive, car park and garden with double wrought iron gates.
According to Bavington Jones, John Hartley was a Freeman of Dover and owned
property in 1794 which was known as Hartley's Meadow and around 1800 he built
his mansion on it. In this building he started a school for young gentlemen.
John Hartley was a schoolmaster and so was his son John. Henry Crow was a
schoolmaster living in Castle Street who ran a boys school in St James's Street.
In 1838 he apparently took over the premises from Mr Hartley. Prospect House
School was the oldest established secondary school in the Dover district founded
by Henry Crow in 1838 and remaining virtually in the same family until it
closed. The 1851 census tells us that Henry Crow was running Prospect Academy
with 23 scholars from various parts of the country. In addition to his school
teaching duties he gave occasional lectures to the Dover Philosophical Society.
His son another Henry Crow took over when his father died in 1864 and was
followed by his son in law Mr Hutchinson in 1866. Mr Hutchinson apparently kept
'fully abreast of advanced and progressive requirements of modern times'.
Special provision was made for the comfort and education of foreign pupils and
boys whose parents lived in India or elsewhere at a distance. Special
arrangements were made for these boys to stay at school during vacations.
An unusual article in the Library dating from the turn of the century describes
the school : 'Prospect House occupies a healthy site on elevated ground
commanding fine views of Dover and castle within a few minutes walk of the sea,
promenades, piers, public gardens and parks. Buildings are well constructed and
perfect sanitary arrangements exist throughout - in the past 30 years only 2
cases of infectious illness were known at the school and those were slight
attacks which were immediately isolated. Classrooms are well ventilated and
dormitory accommodation is exceptionally good. Any boy desiring it can have a
private bedroom on payments of a small additional fee. Domestic arrangements
were under the special direction of Mrs Huthchinson' There was a 'sound
comprehensive modern English education with preparation for various public
examinations and instruction in music, drawing, commercial education, modern
languages, shorthand etc'. In 1896 Master Walter Hutchinson carried off high
honours for writing Pitmans shorthand by winning the Lord Warden's silver
challenge for all boys at school in East Kent. The Marquis of Salisbury was Lord
Warden at the time. The school was attracting increasing numbers of pupils from
all parts. There were 'exceptional facilities for cricket, football and all
other outdoor sports recreation with sea bathing and swimming regularly in the
This school continued until at least 1905 then for some reason, probably the
retirement or death of Mr Hutchinson - the school closes.
In 1907 William Beresford Baker bought Trust 11, Princes Street, and the
adjoining cottage on Durham Hill and the (new) large hall at the rear from
Thomas Lewis, the builder, and the adjoining 12, Princes Street (Matlock House)
plus the adjacent cottage 1A, Cowgate Hill from Henry Hutchinson, a school
master. These properties had together comprised Prospect House Academy, the
private boarding school for young gentlemen.
In 1908 the Dover Directory lists Mrs Bereford Baker with a Home of Rest at 11
and 12 Princes Street (and her husband Captain Beresford Baker living separately
at 25 Waterloo Crescent) The Day Star Mission Hall on Durham Hill (later to
become the Sea Training Schools gymnasium) appears for the first time in the
The Directory entries are unchanged until 1921: at number 11, Christians Home
Mission and Mrs Beresford Baker but with at number 12 Prospect House, Captain
William Beresford Baker. This situation was unchanged until 1934 when Mrs Baker
is shown both at the Christians Home Mission and at Prospect House, her husband
having died in 1953.
The Day Star Mission Guest
Captain Geary and his wife opened the premises as the Day Star Mission Guest
House. A small brochure described it as 'a Christian Holiday Home and Guest
House, comfortably furnished, gas fires in the bedrooms and bathrooms on each
floor with hot and cold water. About five minutes walk from the sea and within
easy access of station and of buses which run to the beautiful country and
places of interest around Dover.
The War Years
It appears that the premises were commandeered by the Navy during the Second
World War. No written evidence has been found but it has been said that the WRNS
took over the house at one point.
In 1946 Stanley Geary and Leslie Philips sold the premises to The British
Sailors Society. A 1945 edition of 'Chart and Compass' (BSS magazine) states
that although the premises had not been officially opened they had been in the
new quarters since 21st February and found them most comfortable with the Matron
very happy about the new rest.
On Tuesday 18th January 1949 the premises were officially opened as the new
Residential Club for Seaman by Admiral The Right Honorable Lord Mountevans. This
was a result of the British Sailors Society, Dover National Sailors Home and
Dover Patrol Memorial Fund pooling their resources into one club administered by
the British Sailors Society. The Dover National Sailors Home had been
established in 1855 by Rev RW Yates in Council House Street. The Dover Patrol
Memorial Fund had enabled the Patrol Memorial Hostel to open after the First
World War and The British Sailors Society had been in Dover since 1895. The
Empress Club in London had raised £4,000 toward the cost of refurbishment which
was acknowledged by the large hall being named Empress Hall. The premises were
completely transformed and turned into a home from home for seamen putting into
Dover who were able to entertain guests for social functions. It was also a
refuge for shipwrecked crews. Facilities included a private chapel, lounges,
reading and writing rooms, shops, restaurant, concert hall for 200 people and
comfortable sleeping accommodation with the manager sleeping on the premises.
The Prince of Wales Sea Training School
This Seaman's Residential Club had a short life because in 1953 the premises
became the Prince of Wales Sea Training School that most of us remember. The
British Sailors Society owned Prospect House and also ran the school. About 120
boys a year aged 15 to 17 years, 40 at a time, underwent a 16 week course
training for life at sea. The mast in the grounds was used for visual signalling
and every boy had to scale it. After two years at sea the boys returned to Dover
for a 12 week course at the College to qualify a marine mechanics.
In 1964 Commander JS Hough DSC (Captain Superintendent) moved to become Deputy
General Secretary of the British Sailors Society. His wife had taught at Barton
Road Primary School. He was succeeded by Captain Colin Vine.
The school closed in December 1975 killed by inflation - it was costing £35,000
per year to run - and was put up for sale with offers around £105,000 for the
freehold. The old ships mast and windlass that used to stand in the grounds was
donated to Dover Transport Museum and still exists.
From then until 1994 the buildings were used by Dover College as a school
boarding house. The YMCA purchased the premises in 1996 and commenced renovation
work to bring the large derelict building back into use. Fund raising continues
in order to renovate the premises. Hopefully this old building with such an
interesting history will serve the town well for many more years.
Click here for images of how the school looks now, inside and outside
Click here for images of The Cause is Altered PH opposite the PWSTS
The above information is
courtesy of Derek Leach, an historian living in Dover. Derek has written
three books on Dover's history and can be contacted on the following email
If you have any other information about the
please click here to email us.