Ancient Monuments

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Dovecote at The Old Deanery, 380m south of Bocking Hall

A Scheduled Monument in Bocking North, Essex

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Latitude: 51.8993 / 51°53'57"N

Longitude: 0.5512 / 0°33'4"E

OS Eastings: 575618.905818

OS Northings: 225376.213847

OS Grid: TL756253

Mapcode National: GBR PHJ.VKD

Mapcode Global: VHJJB.HJRD

Entry Name: Dovecote at The Old Deanery, 380m south of Bocking Hall

Scheduled Date: 7 June 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019037

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32423

County: Essex

Electoral Ward/Division: Bocking North

Built-Up Area: Braintree

Traditional County: Essex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Essex

Church of England Parish: Bocking

Church of England Diocese: Chelmsford


The monument includes a 17th century timber-framed and weatherboarded
dovecote, located at the northern end of the village of Bocking, in the
grounds to the south of The Old Deanery. It is thought to have originally
formed part of a more extensive group of farm buildings most probably
contemporary with the 17th century expansion of the main house.

The dovecote, which is a Listed Building Grade II, is large, some 5.3m square,
and has a brick plinth to 0.5m. Above this it is timber-framed and
weatherboarded. The roof is tiled rising to an unusual cruciform gabled louver
at the top; the latter so designed as to allow access for the pigeons, but to
keep out birds of prey.

The dovecote is of two stories: the lower level has a lath and plaster ceiling
(mostly hidden by modern chipboard) at about 3m above the floor which is made
of brick. The large double-doored entrance (some 2.5m wide and fitted with
later doors) supports the documentary reference to this lower level having
been used as an open cart shed. The upper level is the cote. Access to the
upper level is by external ladder to a fairly small door (1m wide by 1.5m
high) above and slightly to the left of the double-doored entrance to the
lower storey. The door to the upper storey is original and has ventilation
slots. Inside are some 135 wattle and daub nesting boxes, L-shaped, some 45cm
deep, arranged in three tiers with an alighting board to each tier.

Documentary sources place the date of construction during the residency of
Dean Gauden (1643-60); the last Dean to have kept pigeons in the cote is said
to have been a Dr Barton who was Dean from 1816 to 1834.

All modern light fittings and cables are excluded from the scheduling,
together with the exterior oil tank to the immediate south west, although the
ground beneath these features is included.

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

Although some aspects of the structure have been replaced or strengthened in
recent years, as a whole the dovecote at The Old Deanery survives extremely
well, particularly so in a region which has seen considerable numbers of such
buildings lost through disrepair and demolition or radically altered to
accomodate alternative uses. Following a national review of this class of
monument in 1998, the dovecote is now thought to be one of very few
exceptional survivals in Essex and one of even fewer dovecotes to retain
examples of this inherently fragile variant of nest box construction. It
retains substantial evidence for the manner of its use and serves to
illustrate part of the economy and lifestyle of the inhabitants of the
associated manor since the 17th century.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Cooks, A O, A Book of Dovecotes, (1920), p160
Hoffman, A, Bocking Deanery, The story of an Essex Peculiar, (1976)
Smith, D, Pigeon Cotes and Dove Houses of Essex, (1931), p154-5
DOE, List of Buildings of Historic & Architectural Interest,
Tyler, S, MPP Film 7, (1999)

Source: Historic England

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