Ancient Monuments

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Dovecote at the site of Aston Old Hall, 40m east of Gamekeepers Cottage

A Scheduled Monument in Aston, Cheshire West and Chester

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Latitude: 53.2974 / 53°17'50"N

Longitude: -2.6719 / 2°40'18"W

OS Eastings: 355314.060079

OS Northings: 378041.826776

OS Grid: SJ553780

Mapcode National: GBR 9ZS9.BP

Mapcode Global: WH87Y.XCVY

Entry Name: Dovecote at the site of Aston Old Hall, 40m east of Gamekeepers Cottage

Scheduled Date: 21 January 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018703

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30381

County: Cheshire West and Chester

Civil Parish: Aston

Traditional County: Cheshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cheshire

Church of England Parish: Aston St Peter

Church of England Diocese: Chester


The monument includes a dovecote attached to the southern end of a barn in the
grounds of Gamekeepers Cottage. The dovecote, which is Listed Grade II, was
originally free-standing and has a date stone, with the year 1691 carved into
it, set into the wall above the bricked up west doorway. The building formed
part of the refurbishment of the Old Hall by the Aston family after the Civil
War. The hall has been pulled down and is now represented by a moated platform
among the trees at the east side of the dovecote.
The dovecote, which is now roofless, is large in comparison to other examples
and stands on a plinth of sandstone blocks measuring 11m by 5.4m. It is built
of brick, 12m high at the gables, with a plain brick band halfway up the wall
and no other embellishment. The blocked doorway in the west wall has sandstone
quoins and lintel. Two entrances at the rear are without stonework and are
probably more recent.
The dovecote was originally divided into two chambers by a wall up to the
roof. This has been removed but the toothing is still visible. The nest boxes
are constructed with an alighting ledge made of two courses of brick of which
the lower course has the bricks set diagonally to support the course above.
The original design would have thus provided about 1300 nest boxes. In the
northern wall is a window opening with a stone mullion, now blocked up, which
originally provided an entrance for the stock.
There are now no traces of the wooden ladders nor of the potence which would
have provided access to the boxes, but a large squared stone block with a
socket hole, leaning against the wall at the rear of the bulding, may have
been part of this machinery.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

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

The dovecote at Aston Old Hall is important as it is one of the few double
dovecotes in England. The design and construction of the building suggest
that it was the work of master builders. It provides evidence of the
importance attached to this method of food production and provision of manure
during the 17th century, documentary evidence for which is provided by the
Aston Papers, stored at Aston Lodge.

Source: Historic England

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