Dovecote at Blois Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017233

Date first listed: 12-Jan-2000


Ordnance survey map of Dovecote at Blois Farm
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This copy shows the entry on 12-Dec-2018 at 16:38:05.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Essex

District: Braintree (District Authority)

Parish: Steeple Bumpstead

National Grid Reference: TL 68531 41566


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

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.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry 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.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 32419

Legacy System: RSM


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

End of official listing