Ancient Monuments

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Dovecote, Beddington Park

A Scheduled Monument in Beddington North, Sutton

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Latitude: 51.3726 / 51°22'21"N

Longitude: -0.1403 / 0°8'24"W

OS Eastings: 529542.318089

OS Northings: 165373.145136

OS Grid: TQ295653

Mapcode National: GBR F7.C9C

Mapcode Global: VHGRK.JR6L

Entry Name: Dovecote, Beddington Park

Scheduled Date: 10 January 1952

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1002017

English Heritage Legacy ID: LO 93

County: Sutton

Electoral Ward/Division: Beddington North

Built-Up Area: Sutton

Traditional County: Surrey

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: Beddington

Church of England Diocese: Southwark


Dovecote, 100m north-west of Carew Manor School.

Source: Historic England


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 24 March 2015. The record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.

The monument includes an early 18th century dovecote or pigeon house situated on low lying flat ground, just south of the River Wandle in Beddington Park.

The dovecote is a large octagonal red brick building of two storeys divided by a brick string course. It has a modillioned eaves cornice and a tiled roof, which is partly a late 20th century restoration. The roof is surmounted by an octagonal open lead domed cupola with ball finial. The dovecote originally contained about 1360 ‘L’ shaped nesting boxes built into the inner face of the wall giving it a complex honeycomb-like structure. Some, but not all, of these survive. The birds approached it through the cupola at the apex of the roof. At the centre is a large rotating ladder, or potence, which was used by the keepers to reach the nesting boxes. These provided the Carew family with eggs and meat, whilst the guano (bird droppings) which accumulated on the floor may have been collected and sold since it contained saltpetre, an essential ingredient in gunpowder production. The first floor is a later insertion, which is likely to have been added when the nesting boxes below it were bricked up and the walls painted white. The interior includes a cast-iron spiral staircase, which was added in the late 20th century.

Beddington Park was originally a medieval deer park. A dovecote existed at Beddington Place, or Carew Manor as it is now known, in the 16th century. This was located at ‘Pigeon House Meadow’, which may have been to the east of the current site. A Great Hall had been built for Sir Nicholas Carew, the first Baronet in 1530. In the 16th and 17th century the garden was famous for its orange trees, apparently raised from seeds brought back to the country by Sir Walter Raleigh who had married the niece of Sir Francis Carew, and was subject to a visit by Elizabeth I. Between about 1707 and 1720, the house was partly rebuilt. At about this time, in 1715-20, the new dovecote was probably constructed as a replacement to the earlier structure. It is known to have fallen out of use by at least the mid-19th century, after which the lower floor was used as a store and latterly as a heritage centre.

It is listed Grade II*.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Dovecotes are specialised structures designed for the breeding and keeping of doves as a source of food and as a symbol of high social status. Most surviving examples were built in the period between the 14th and the 17th centuries, although both earlier and later examples are documented. They were generally freestanding structures, square or circular in plan and normally of brick or stone, with nesting boxes built into the internal wall. They were frequently sited at manor houses or monasteries. Whilst a relatively common monument class (1500 examples are estimated to survive out of an original population of c.25,000), most will be considered to be of national interest, although the majority will be listed rather than scheduled. They are also generally regarded as an important component of local distinctiveness and character.

The dovecote in Beddington Park survives well and retains much of its original internal features. It is a late example of a dovecote, which given its size and location in close proximity to Carew Manor was probably as much a symbol of status as a functional entity. The dovecote is very similar to one at Carshalton House that was demolished in 1906, and both are thought to be near identical to one previously in existence at Kensington Palace.

Source: Historic England

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