Dovecote 80m south west of Olivers


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017235

Date first listed: 12-Jan-2000


Ordnance survey map of Dovecote 80m south west of Olivers
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Essex

District: Colchester (District Authority)

Parish: Stanway

National Grid Reference: TL 96631 21401


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 some aspects of the structure have been replaced or strengthened in recent years, as a whole the dovecote at Olivers survives extremely well - particularly so in a region which has seen considerable numbers of such buildings lost through disrepair and demolition or radically altered.

Following a national review of this class of monument in 1998, Olivers is now thought to be one of only a few exceptional survivals in Essex, a small number of which retain examples of this inherently fragile variant of nest box construction. The dovecote thus retains substantial evidence for the manner of its use and therefore serves to illustrate part of the economy and lifestyle of the inhabitants of the manor since the 17th century.


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


The monument includes a 17th century dovecote situated in a garden to the south west of the house at Olivers, on the north side of the Roman River valley. The mansion house at Olivers dates back to the 15th century and would originally have been surrounded by woodland, some of which still survives (principally Walk Wood).

The dovecote, which is Listed Grade II, is octagonal, having a foundation and lower courses of red brick with weatherboarding above. The dovecote has two stories; the lower part has a brick floor and internal brick wall, ventilated by two small gratings in the walls. A large original oak cross beam supports the floor boards of the upper level, the undersides of which were originally plastered and some small areas of plaster remain. The upper part has a boarded floor, some 2.25m above ground level and is accessed via an external ladder. Unlike the lower level, the walls of the upper level do not have an inner skin of brick, but are of wattle (hazel) and daub construction set within an oak frame. The roof is slate tiled surmounted by a timber cupola or lantern (a replacement dating from the 1940s) with entry holes on every side.

Internally the upper level originally contained some 112 nest boxes, about half of which still remain. The nest boxes are of particular interest, being constructed of clay bats around a wooden frame of oak; they vary in size slightly, but an average size is approximately 0.28m by 0.42m.

The roof retains original features: the original oak rafters are in situ, reinforced by modern timbers; the louver, pipe and alighting beam are of original oak timbers.

Documentary sources state that the dovecote was in use during the course of World War I until wartime restrictions made it impossible to feed the doves. It was subsequently used as a fruit store and an animal shelter.

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: 32421

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Smith, D, Pigeon Cotes and Dove Houses of Essex, (1931), p248
Gant, H, 'Essex Review' in Dovehouse at Olivers, Stanway, , Vol. 198, (1941), p103-5
DOE, List of Buildings of Historic & Architectural Interest,
Oxford Archaeological Unit, EH MPP Step 3 Report Site evaluations for Dovecotes, (1995)
Tyler, S, MPP Film, (1998)

End of official listing