Combined dovecote and icehouse at Gaines


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019498

Date first listed: 20-Jul-2001


Ordnance survey map of Combined dovecote and icehouse at Gaines
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This copy shows the entry on 20-Oct-2018 at 05:01:46.


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

District: County of Herefordshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Whitbourne

National Grid Reference: SO 71910 55417


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

Reasons for Designation

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.


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


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.

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: 31976

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing