Ancient Monuments

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Combined dovecote and icehouse at Gaines

A Scheduled Monument in Whitbourne, Herefordshire,

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Latitude: 52.1963 / 52°11'46"N

Longitude: -2.4124 / 2°24'44"W

OS Eastings: 371910.311

OS Northings: 255417.411

OS Grid: SO719554

Mapcode National: GBR FZ.3Q7N

Mapcode Global: VH92Q.42J5

Entry Name: Combined dovecote and icehouse at Gaines

Scheduled Date: 20 July 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019498

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31976

County: Herefordshire,

Civil Parish: Whitbourne

Traditional County: Herefordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Herefordshire

Church of England Parish: Greater Whitbourne

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The monument includes the standing and buried remains of an icehouse, which
unusually has a dovecote within its upper storey, at Gaines. The icehouse,
which is a Listed Building Grade II, is located approximately 23m north of the
house known as `Gaines', which is also a Listed Building Grade II . It is
believed that the ponds to the north were the source of ice for the icehouse.
These ponds have since been adapted as garden features, however, and are not
included in the scheduling.

The building is of red brick and measures approximately 4.5m by 4.5m and is
approximately 6m high. It has been dated by its inscribed weather vane to
1718, although stylistically it may date from the late 17th century. It has a
four-gabled red, plain, clay tiled roof surmounted by a timber cupola, now
glazed, also with a four gabled, plain tile roof. The building was
sympathetically restored in the 1990s. The icehouse occupies the lower portion
of the structure, directly below the dovecote, and has a brick lined
cylindrical chamber which measures approximately 3.5m diameter by 3.5m deep.
Approximately two thirds of the chamber is below ground level. Access to the
icehouse is through a 1m wide by 0.5m high arched opening with a wooden door
at ground level in the north east wall.

Access to the dovecote in the upper storey is gained through a 1.5m by 0.5m
wooden door in the south west wall and located approximately 2m above ground
level. The floor of the dovecote is level with the threshold of the door. The
dovecote contains approximately 425 `L' shaped brick nest boxes built into the
walls with continuous alighting ledges for every tier.

All modern ground surfaces are excluded from the scheduling, although the
ground beneath them 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

Icehouses are subterranean structures designed specifically to store ice,
usually removed in winter from ponds and used in the summer for preserving
food and cooling drinks. Thousands of icehouses have been built in England
since the early 17th century. These were initially built only by the upper
level of society, but by the end of the 18th century they were commonplace.
They continued to be built throughout the 19th century, when huge examples
were established by the fishing industry, as well as for use in towns.
Icehouses only became obsolete after the introduction of domestic
refrigerators in the early 20th century.
Of the thousands originally built, some 1500 icehouses have been positively
identified through a combination of archaeological and documentary research.
Although a relatively common class, most recorded examples with surviving
remains will be considered to be of national interest and appropriate for
consideration for either scheduling or listing. They are also generally
regarded as a significant component of local distinctiveness and character.

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. Like icehouses,
dovecotes are generally regarded as an important component of local
distinctiveness and character.

Dovecotes and icehouses were important structures which demonstrated the
wealth and prestige of their owners. The combination of both within a single
structure is particularly unusual. The structure at Gaines survives well. The
building's use into the 19th century demonstrates its continuing economic
role, enhancing our understanding of the importance of the preservation and
storage of food in earlier periods.

Source: Historic England

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