Dovecote at the site of Aston Old Hall, 40m east of Gamekeepers Cottage


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Dovecote at the site of Aston Old Hall, 40m east of Gamekeepers Cottage
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Cheshire West and Chester (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SJ 55314 78042

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.

The dovecote at Aston Old Hall is important as it is one of the few double dovecotes in England. The design and construction of the building suggest that it was the work of master builders. It provides evidence of the importance attached to this method of food production and provision of manure during the 17th century, documentary evidence for which is provided by the Aston Papers, stored at Aston Lodge.


The monument includes a dovecote attached to the southern end of a barn in the grounds of Gamekeepers Cottage. The dovecote, which is Listed Grade II, was originally free-standing and has a date stone, with the year 1691 carved into it, set into the wall above the bricked up west doorway. The building formed part of the refurbishment of the Old Hall by the Aston family after the Civil War. The hall has been pulled down and is now represented by a moated platform among the trees at the east side of the dovecote. The dovecote, which is now roofless, is large in comparison to other examples and stands on a plinth of sandstone blocks measuring 11m by 5.4m. It is built of brick, 12m high at the gables, with a plain brick band halfway up the wall and no other embellishment. The blocked doorway in the west wall has sandstone quoins and lintel. Two entrances at the rear are without stonework and are probably more recent. The dovecote was originally divided into two chambers by a wall up to the roof. This has been removed but the toothing is still visible. The nest boxes are constructed with an alighting ledge made of two courses of brick of which the lower course has the bricks set diagonally to support the course above. The original design would have thus provided about 1300 nest boxes. In the northern wall is a window opening with a stone mullion, now blocked up, which originally provided an entrance for the stock. There are now no traces of the wooden ladders nor of the potence which would have provided access to the boxes, but a large squared stone block with a socket hole, leaning against the wall at the rear of the bulding, may have been part of this machinery.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


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

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This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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