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Dockyard 4027th March 2024

£2.3million awarded by Department for Culture, Media and Sport to one of Britain’s oldest intact naval buildings


Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust is pleased to announce it has been awarded £2,318,400 for capital works to Commissioner’s House by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport through the Museum Estate and Development Fund (MEND), administered by Arts Council England.  

The essential funding will enable the Trust to repair and preserve the historic fabric of the Grade I listed scheduled ancient monument, replace and update electrical and mechanical services and safeguard its collections. Once capital works are complete, Commissioner’s House will be energy efficient, better interpreted and provide greater public access, ensuring the future sustainability of the building as a heritage asset. The works will be carried out within the next 24 months.

Richard Morsley, Chief Executive, Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust, said:

“We are incredibly grateful to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and Arts Council England for awarding Museums and Estates Development funding for Commissioner’s House. This Scheduled Ancient Monument is Britain’s oldest intact naval building and one of the finest examples of Georgian architecture. The funding will allow us to undertake a programme of essential maintenance, including a full roof replacement, which will safeguard the building for future generations. In addition we are working to widen public access, rightfully restoring Commissioner’s House back to the heart of the Historic Dockyard.”

The Queen Anne style Commissioner’s House is Britain’s oldest intact naval building and is little changed since its original construction. Originally, this grand Georgian mansion, served as the home and office to the Dockyard Commissioner. The house was built for Captain George St Lo in 1704, on the site of an earlier residence constructed in 1640.

Commissioner’s House is a heritage asset of the highest order. One of the most attractive internal decorations is a ceiling painting depicting an assembly of the gods, with Mars crowning Neptune. The painting is attributed to Highmore with figure work by Thornhill. The painting was originally fitted onboard HMS Royal Sovereign.   

The Trust would like to thank the design team including:  Namur Projects Ltd, PCS Consulting Services Ltd, Bob Dollin, Price & Myers, and van Heyningen and Haward Architects for their project vision and historic building expertise which has contributed to the success of securing MEND.   

Commissioner’s House will remain open until November 2024 and will be re-launched in Summer 2026.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport funds MEND which is administered by Arts Council England.


This week the Trust that saved the 400 year old site will mark 40 years since the closure of the former Royal Naval Dockyard gatesand the creation of Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust 4 decades ago.

On 30 March 1984 Chatham Dockyard’s gates closed, ending 400 years of the Royal Navy’s presence in Chatham and the surrounding area. The very same day, Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust was formed to save 80 acres of this uniquely historic site and provide a beacon of hope for The Medway Towns. 

Over the last 4 decades the Trust has established a track history of delivering major capital development and has successfully utilised over £80m of investment to achieve incredible transformation – turning a dilapidated formal industrial site into a vibrant mixed-use estate welcoming over 170,000 visitors every year. The Trust is adept at unlocking heritage and maximising public benefit through major capital programmes.

Commissioner’s House sits within the Historic Dockyard Chatham estate, with over 100 historic buildings and structures, including 47 Scheduled Ancient Monuments (SAMs); the Trust is custodian to the largest concentration of Scheduled Ancient Monuments in Kent.

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