Dovecote at Avebury Manor


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Statutory Address:
Avebury, near Marlborough, Wiltshire, SN8 1RD


© Crown Copyright and database right 2021. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2021. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1286437.pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 20-Apr-2021 at 06:14:57.


Statutory Address:
Avebury, near Marlborough, Wiltshire, SN8 1RD

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

Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:


Dovecote, mid-C16.

Reasons for Designation

The dovecote at Avebury Manor which dates from the mid-C16 is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* as a well-preserved example which retains its architectural character and the key distinguishing features of early dovecotes, including the original low entrance, cupola and serried ranks of internal nest boxes, which illustrate its original function.

Historic interest:

* as an important reminder that pigeons were farmed in the post-medieval period.

Group value:

* it benefits from a spatial and functional group value with the adjacent, Grade-I listed Avebury Manor, to which it provided highly-prized meat. It also groups well with the barn (Grade I), former stables (Grade II) and the abutting boundary wall (Grade II).


Avebury Manor stands on the site of a Benedictine Priory. It was sold in 1411 to Fotheringhay College which held the lands until the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and in 1547 was granted to Sir William Sharington. In 1551 the house and estate were then sold to William Dunch, a wealthy businessman and Auditor to the Royal Mint. The house underwent various alterations and refurbishment over the centuries, and was extended in about 1750, 1850 and around 1907. The surrounding land was sold to the National Trust in 1943 by the then owner Alexander Keiller and in 1991 the Trust purchased the house.

Within a partly-walled enclosure to the east of the house is a stone-built dovecote which dates from the mid-C16. An article from 1917 (see SOURCES) which refers to late-C16 depositions considers that it was built sometime between 1533 and 1569. Dovecotes (or pigeon houses) 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 C14 and the C17, although earlier and later examples are documented.


Dovecote, mid-C16.

MATERIALS: it is constructed of local sarsen rubble, formerly rendered, under a conical stone-slate roof.

DESCRIPTION: the building is circular on plan, with slightly battered, roughly-coursed rubble stone walls with repairs in stone. It has a low, square-headed doorway to the south with a timber lintel and recessed plank door with strap hinges. On the north side is a cambered-arched doorway with brick surround, timber stable-type door and rectangular fanlight which is a later insertion. There are overhanging eaves and the roof is surmounted by an open cupola with its own stone-slate conical cap for pigeon entry. It is crowned by a ball finial. The interior has lime washed walls and is lined with some 15 ranks of nesting boxes without alighting ledges, and there is no ladder. The floor is laid with stone rubble.


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

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
'Notes on Wiltshire Parishes. Avebury' in Wiltshire Notes and Queries, , Vol. VIII, (1917), 214-224
Dovecote at Avebury Manor, Avebury, accessed 4 February 2020 from
SU17SW453, Dovecote, Avebury Manor, Wiltshire and Swindon Historic Environment Record , accessed 4 February 2020 from


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].