Ancient Monuments

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Dovecote at Charleston Manor

A Scheduled Monument in Cuckmere Valley, East Sussex

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Latitude: 50.7854 / 50°47'7"N

Longitude: 0.1557 / 0°9'20"E

OS Eastings: 552053.572863

OS Northings: 100635.341844

OS Grid: TQ520006

Mapcode National: GBR LSK.Q61

Mapcode Global: FRA C760.JH5

Entry Name: Dovecote at Charleston Manor

Scheduled Date: 5 January 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019244

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32272

County: East Sussex

Civil Parish: Cuckmere Valley

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex

Church of England Parish: West Dean All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


The monument includes a dovecote situated within the grounds of Charleston
Manor, on the eastern edge of the Cuckmere valley, around 2km north west of
Seaford. The dovecote has been dated to the 13th century and formed part of
the medieval manorial settlement at Charleston. The principal 12th century
house of the manorial complex survives as the southern wing of Charleston
Manor, to which the remaining wings were added during the 16th and 18th
The dovecote is a circular building which has an internal diameter of around
4.3m and is built into the north facing slope of a garden terrace, around 30m
WSW of the house. Its substantial flint faced walls are over a metre thick and
are supported on the southern, downhill side by a single buttress. The
external surface of the walls were rendered at some stage in the past, and
traces of this survive. The dovecote is topped by a conical, clay tiled roof,
pierced by a small rectangular window, with an octagonal wooden cupola at the
apex, above the birds' entrance.
Access for humans is through a simple doorway on the north eastern side.
Internally, the walls are lined with around 400 square, chalk nesting boxes,
some of which have been rebuilt in brick during past repairs to the walls. The
rows are divided by slightly projecting horizontal chalk blocks, which
functioned as alighting ledges. Human access to the nesting boxes is by way of
a rotating wooden framework, or potence.
The dovecote is a Listed Building Grade II, and retains a small population of
doves. The surrounding landscaped gardens, which are Registered Grade II*,
were laid out in the 1930s by the architect and garden designer, Walter H
Godfrey, and commissioned by the painter, Sir Oswald Birley. The dovecote was
incorporated into the highest of a series of garden terraces, lined with yew
hedges, on the southern side of the house.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 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

The dovecote at Charleston Manor is a rare surviving example of an early
dovecote in Sussex. It survives well, mostly in its original condition, and
retains much of its internal integrity, including its original chalk nesting
boxes and a later potence. The building remains an impressive feature within
the surrounding landscape.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Godfrey, W H, 'Sussex Notes and Queries' in Charleston Manor House, , Vol. IV, No.2, (1932), 33-39
Martin, D, Martin, B, 'ROHAS' in West Dean - Dovecote and Charleston Manor, , Vol. 1076, (1989)

Source: Historic England

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