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|Motto||Non recuso laborem
(I cannot refuse the task)
|Type||Independent day and boarding|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Chairman of the Governors||J.T. Sullivan Esq|
|DfE URN||118940 Tables|
|Colours||Black and green|
|Former pupils||Old Dovorians|
In 1869 Robert Chignell, who had a private school at Westmount, in Folkestone Road, leased part of the Dover Priory buildings for a private school. He passed on his interest, however, to a group of leading citizens and local businessmen in Dover, led by the Mayor of Dover, Dr. Astley, who had formed the Dover College Company to promote the foundation of a public school for the town on what remained of the Priory site with the dual intention of providing a public school education for local boys and of using and thus preserving the Priory's remaining ancient buildings.
It is set in the grounds and ruins of the Priory of St. Martin, which was ransacked by King Henry VIII as part of his dissolution of the monasteries. The priory gives its name to Dover's main railway station which was built on the western part of the priory site. Some of the original medieval buildings remain. The 12th century Strangers' Refectory is still used as an eating hall and for concerts (it is Grade II* listed). The college chapel was originally the priory guesthouse, it was built in the 12th century, it is Grade II* listed. The bell tower was added in the late 19th century. The gatehouse of the priory (also listed)  is used as a music room. The central lawn of the school is still referred to as The Close. The composer Thomas Tallis was organist to the priory in the late 16th century, and is commemorated in the naming of the college's Tallis Music School.
The College was founded and opened as a boys' school on 15 September 1871. By the end of the first term there were 21 boys in the school, and by the end of the next summer another 32 had joined them. It acquired the large hall, or guest-house, in 1879 and converted it into a school Chapel by enlarging the east end into an apse. In time, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners made over the whole property to the College Trustees. The refectory was restored, revealing an important but damaged fresco, as (in 1881, to mark a charitable act by Sir Richard Dickenson the then mayor of Dover) was the gatehouse. The Gatehouse was restored by the celebrated architect George Edmund Street and is currently used as the music room for the Junior Department.
In August 1917, part of the school was damaged during an air raid, and the decision was finally taken to evacuate the College from Dover to Leamington College in Leamington Spa in the Midlands; the school returned to Dover in 1919 with only 150 pupils. During World War I, in common with many other schools, Old Dovorians became officers in the British Armed Forces and as a result suffered high casualty rates. 177 former pupils died; 58 Dovorians were awarded the DSO and 89 the MC – of the foreign awards 8 were awarded Croix de Guerre and 6 the Russian Order of Saint Stanislas. One Naval officer – Arthur Leyland Harrison – posthumously received the Victoria Cross for the Zeebrugge raid; another old boy, Gen Sir Reginald Dallas Brooks, was also on that raid and won his DSO before going on to become Governor of Victoria.
In 1921 the Jubilee of the School was celebrated, including the dedication of the War Memorial and the Bell Memorial in the Chapel. 1922 a trust set up by the old boys took ownership of the College and in 1923 it was reconstituted with a Royal Charter, which defined its aims:
- The object of the Corporation of Dover College shall be the conduct of a College for boys … in which they may receive a sound religious, classical, mathematical, scientific and general education and the doing of such things as are conducive to the attainment of this objective.
During the Second World War, Dover was on the front line, with only the Straits of Dover separating the town from Nazi-occupied France, and one of the most likely areas for a German invasion. As a result, the school was again evacuated, initially for a term to Blundell's School in Devon with which Dover College had a long-standing friendship, and thence to Poltimore House, also in Devon. It returned to Dover in 1945 with 168 boys. During the war 102 former pupils died; Lt Col Terence Otway won a famous DSO for his action in capturing the Merville Battery on D-Day.
In 1974, Dover College was one of the first English public schools to become fully co-educational. In September 2001 it opened a junior department for pupils aged 4–11.
In 2009, Dover College opened a pre-reception class to welcome three-year-old children.
The school crest shows St. Martin dividing his cloak, which he shared with a beggar. See the episode of the cloak. Martin of Tours is patron saint of France, and therefore appropriate for the English school closer than any other to France.
Notable alumni, in chronological order, include:
- Dr Reginald Koettlitz (1860–1916); Doctor and Polar Explorer
- Richard Arthur (1865–1932); Australian politician
- Frederic Maugham, 1st Viscount Maugham (1866–1958); Lord Chancellor
- Tyrone Power, Sr. (1869–1931); Anglo-American actor
- O. B. Clarence (1870–1955); English actor
- Edmund Henry Elwin (1871–1909); Christian Missionary and Bishop of Sierra Leone
- Francis Newton Parsons (1875–1900); Victoria Cross recipient (Second Boer War)
- Richard Reginald Goulden (1876-19320); portrait sculptor & creator of public memorials
- Robert John Tillyard (1881–1937); entomologist and geologist
- H. P. M. Beames (1875–1948); engineer
- Adrian Stoop (1883–1957); Rugby player after whom the Stoop Memorial ground is named
- Arthur Leyland Harrison (1886–1918); Victoria Cross recipient (Zeebrugge Raid.)
- The Most Reverend Howard West Kilvinton Mowll D.D. (1890–1958); Archbishop of Sydney and Primate of Australia
- Richard Aldington (1892–1962); writer and poet
- Wilfred Nevill (1894–1916); led the East Surrey's "Football Charge" at the Somme
- General Sir Dallas Brooks (1896–1966); DSO – Zeebrugge Raid; Governor of Victoria – 1949–1963
- Air Marshal Sir Hugh Walmsley KCB, KCIE, CBE, MC, DFC (1898–1985); Chief of the Air Staff (India)
- Brian Vesey-Fitzgerald (1900–1981); writer of books about British wildlife
- Sir Frederick Ashton OM, CH, CBE (1904–1988); choreographer of the Royal Ballet
- Erik Chitty (1907–1977); actor and founding member of the Cambridge University Mummers
- Edgar Christian (1908–1927); see Cold Burial published in 2002
- Group Captain John Hamar "Johnnie" Hill CBE (1912–1997); Squadron Commander of 504 Squadron and 222 Squadron RAF in 1940
- Squadron Leader Michael Casano MC (1913–2006); Commander of No 2 Armoured Car Company RAF
- Colonel Terence Otway DSO (1914–2006); CO of 9 Para on D-Day (Merville Battery)
- J. Lee Thompson (1914–2002); film director
- Sir Derek Palmar (1919–2006); chairman of Bass Brewery
- Admiral Sir Peter White GBE (1919–2010); Chief of Fleet Support
- Sir Donald Luddington KBE, CMG, CVO (1920–2009); British colonial government official
- The Reverend Mark Turnham Elvins, OFMCap (b. 1939); acting Warden of Greyfriars, Oxford 2007/8
- Michael Welsh (b. 1942); Conservative politician
- George Lam (b. 1947); Hong Kong film star and singer
- Sir Peter Torry, GCVO, KCMG (b. 1948); British Ambassador to Germany
- Michael Kuhn (b. 1949); film director
- Guy East (b. 1951); film producer
- Neal Mallett (b. 1957); Olympic fencer
- Simon Cowell (b. 1959); TV personality
- Pavan Sukhdev (b. 1960); Environmental Economist
- Achim Steiner (b. 1961); executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme
- Daniel Rouse (b. 1972); Fiji International Rugby Player, 29 Tests. Harlequin F.C.
- Dai Fujikura (b. 1977); composer of contemporary classical music
- Sammy Moore (b. 1987); professional footballer
- Dover priory: a history of the Priory of St Mary the Virgin and St Martin of the New Work by Charles Reginald Haines (1930) – a comprehensive history of the priory