Dovecote at The Old Deanery, 380m south of Bocking Hall


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019037

Date first listed: 07-Jun-2000


Ordnance survey map of Dovecote at The Old Deanery, 380m south of Bocking Hall
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Essex

District: Braintree (District Authority)

National Grid Reference: TL 75619 25376


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 The Old Deanery survives extremely well, particularly so in a region which has seen considerable numbers of such buildings lost through disrepair and demolition or radically altered to accomodate alternative uses. Following a national review of this class of monument in 1998, the dovecote is now thought to be one of very few exceptional survivals in Essex and one of even fewer dovecotes to retain examples of this inherently fragile variant of nest box construction. It retains substantial evidence for the manner of its use and serves to illustrate part of the economy and lifestyle of the inhabitants of the associated manor since the 17th century.


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


The monument includes a 17th century timber-framed and weatherboarded dovecote, located at the northern end of the village of Bocking, in the grounds to the south of The Old Deanery. It is thought to have originally formed part of a more extensive group of farm buildings most probably contemporary with the 17th century expansion of the main house.

The dovecote, which is a Listed Building Grade II, is large, some 5.3m square, and has a brick plinth to 0.5m. Above this it is timber-framed and weatherboarded. The roof is tiled rising to an unusual cruciform gabled louver at the top; the latter so designed as to allow access for the pigeons, but to keep out birds of prey.

The dovecote is of two stories: the lower level has a lath and plaster ceiling (mostly hidden by modern chipboard) at about 3m above the floor which is made of brick. The large double-doored entrance (some 2.5m wide and fitted with later doors) supports the documentary reference to this lower level having been used as an open cart shed. The upper level is the cote. Access to the upper level is by external ladder to a fairly small door (1m wide by 1.5m high) above and slightly to the left of the double-doored entrance to the lower storey. The door to the upper storey is original and has ventilation slots. Inside are some 135 wattle and daub nesting boxes, L-shaped, some 45cm deep, arranged in three tiers with an alighting board to each tier.

Documentary sources place the date of construction during the residency of Dean Gauden (1643-60); the last Dean to have kept pigeons in the cote is said to have been a Dr Barton who was Dean from 1816 to 1834.

All modern light fittings and cables are excluded from the scheduling, together with the exterior oil tank to the immediate south west, although the ground beneath these features 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: 32423

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Cooks, A O, A Book of Dovecotes, (1920), p160
Hoffman, A, Bocking Deanery, The story of an Essex Peculiar, (1976)
Smith, D, Pigeon Cotes and Dove Houses of Essex, (1931), p154-5
DOE, List of Buildings of Historic & Architectural Interest,
Tyler, S, MPP Film 7, (1999)

End of official listing