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Dovecote at Blois Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Steeple Bumpstead, Essex

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.0469 / 52°2'48"N

Longitude: 0.4562 / 0°27'22"E

OS Eastings: 568531.249691

OS Northings: 241566.443044

OS Grid: TL685415

Mapcode National: GBR PFN.N4P

Mapcode Global: VHJHH.VTJ7

Entry Name: Dovecote at Blois Farm

Scheduled Date: 12 January 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017233

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32419

County: Essex

Civil Parish: Steeple Bumpstead

Built-Up Area: Steeple Bumpstead

Traditional County: Essex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Essex

Church of England Parish: Steeple Bumpstead St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Chelmsford

Details

The monument includes a 17th century dovecote situated 7m east of Blois
Farmhouse on the southern valley slope of a tributary of the River Stour. It
currently stands within a cottage garden (Claydon's Cottage) and apparently
has always done so.
The dovecote, which is Listed Grade II, is square in shape, timber framed and
sits on a brick plinth. Originally it is said to have been constructed with
walls of clay bat, although the framework is currently clad with
weatherboards. The structure has two stories separated by flooring of wooden
boards. Each storey is accessed by a door in the south western side. It is
roofed with handmade red clay tiles. The roof is low pitched and originally
had a two gabled louver to allow the passage of birds.
The interior is lined with approximately 200 nesting boxes of clay bat on all
four walls. Of equal size and square in plan, the boxes are made of flat,
vertical and horizontal slabs of unfired clay and chopped straw approximately
25mm thick. Each nest box has an arched entrance, and under each tier of nests
there are continuous perching ledges.
All modern fences and walls, where they impinge on the dovecote's protective
margin, are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath is
included.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 1 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

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.

Although a few aspects of the structure, such as the weatherboarding, have
been altered in more recent times, as a whole the dovecote at Blois Farm
survives extremely well, particularly so in a region which has seen many such
buildings lost through disrepair and demolition or radically altered.
Following a national review of this class of monument in 1998, the Blois Farm
dovecote is now thought to be one of only a small number of exceptional
survivals in Essex, and it is especially notable for the complete survival of
the extremely rare clay nest boxes - an inherently fragile variant of nest box
construction. The dovecote retains substantial evidence for the manner of its
use and serves to illustrate part of the economy and lifestyle of the
associated cottage during the 17th century and beyond. This association is in
itself unusual, since the majority of dovecotes in the region belonged to
wealthy manorial estates.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Smith, D, Pigeon Cotes and Dove Houses of Essex, (1931), p236-7
Other
DOE, List of Buildings of Historic & Architectural Interest,
OAU, EH MPP Step 3 Report Site evaluations for Dovecotes, (1995)
Tyler, S, MPP Film, (1998)

Source: Historic England

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