Dovecote and attached stable to rear (east) of 10 Northgate


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
10 Northgate, Hunmanby, Filey, YO14 0NT


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Statutory Address:
10 Northgate, Hunmanby, Filey, YO14 0NT

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

North Yorkshire
Scarborough (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:


A vernacular, mainly chalk-built dovecote and stable probably dating to the mid-C18.

Reasons for Designation

The dovecote, with attached stable, to the rear of 10 Northgate is listed Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest: * as a relatively rare survival of a dovecote, this special interest displayed by the serried ranks of nest-boxes; * for its local vernacular construction employing earth-mortared chalk blocks built off a limestone plinth, along with the later repair work in good quality C18 brickwork.

Historic interest: * for its utilitarian design illustrating that pigeon keeping was practiced by some farmers in the C18 for profit, in contrast to more ornamental dovecotes built partly as status symbols. Group value: * with the separately listed farm house (Grade II).


Historically, dovecotes were seen as status symbols. The right to build dovecotes was tightly controlled in the medieval period, typically being a manorial prerogative. This prerogative was finally abolished nationally in 1762, although many non-manorial dovecotes had been built from the Elizabethan period onwards, especially from the mid-C17 onwards. It is possible that this dovecote was originally built for one of Hunmanby’s two medieval manors before the C18, but it is more likely to date to the mid-C18 and to have been built for the farm house which is now 10 Northgate (listed Grade II). Doves and pigeons, kept for both eggs and tender, highly prized meat between spring and autumn, also produced very valuable manure. The dovecote, which is of a utilitarian, vernacular construction, is likely to have been a commercial contributor to the farm business rather than being constructed for prestige purposes. Although the C18 saw the building of many architecturally embellished dovecotes built as status symbols, the farming of pigeons was also profitable as illustrated by such writers as George Cooke in his 'The Complete English Farmer' (1772) which includes a whole chapter on pigeons. Around this time a dozen pigeons were worth 2-3 shillings, slightly more than the average man’s daily wage. In the early C19, the damage that pigeons do to crops became more appreciated and this saw a decline in the use of dovecotes so that by the mid-C19 many had been demolished or turned over to other uses.

The stable attached to the west gable of the dovecote is a later addition, but, with its steeply pitched roof and chalk-block construction, is also considered to be C18 in date. The roughly-built small lean-to shed to the stable is probably a C19 addition and appears to be shown (along with a further outbuilding attached to the east gable of the dovecot that has been lost) on the 1:2500 Ordnance Survey map surveyed 1889. It may also be depicted on the 1:10560 map surveyed 1849-1850, but the scale of this map makes this less clear.

The structure of the dovecote has clearly undergone a number of alterations. The earliest structure is of earth-mortared chalk-block walling rising from a limestone plinth, however the south wall and south corner of the east gable was rebuilt in brick, including nest-boxes, probably in the later C18. This rebuilding probably increased the number of nest-boxes (those in the brick-built wall are more closely spaced) from perhaps around 300 to about 400 nests. A large part of the east gable also appears to have been rebuilt separately, mainly in chalk blocks rising from an C18 brick plinth internally. This rebuilt section lacks nest-boxes and is likely to have been rebuilt after the dovecot had gone out of use for keep pigeons. The cart entrance through the south wall is also most likely a later insertion, but possibly also in the C18 judging by the brickwork above its lintel – this brickwork, appearing to be an area of earlier collapse, also lacks nest-boxes. The brick blocking of this entry (along with that of the two windows set high in the gables) appears to be C19. Map evidence suggests that the cart entrance was probably blocked in the second half of the C19 with the construction of the abutting building to the south belonging to the neighbouring property. With the loss of the roof, it is not known if the dovecote had dormer windows or a cupola to provide access for the pigeons in addition to the small windows set high in the gables. The gable windows appear to have been barred – this would have been to exclude birds of prey whilst not restricting access for pigeons. It is also not known if the dovecote originally had a potence (a revolving timber structure designed to provide access to the nest-boxes) a feature that some rectangular dovecotes did without. The interior of the dovecote does include some projecting stones and built-in timbers which may relate to staging designed to facilitate access to the nest-boxes for the farmer.


Dovecote and stable, probably mid-C18 with later alterations.

MATERIALS: mainly earth-mortared chalk rising from a limestone plinth; partial rebuilding in thin, red C18 brickwork with later blockings in poorer quality C19 brickwork. Pantile roof to the stable, the dovecote was roofless at the time of survey.

PLAN: the dovecote is an undivided, two-storey rectangular cell. The stable is a single undivided loose-box, both being accessed from the north. The small lean-to to the west gable of the stable is accessed from the west.

DESCRIPTION: the dovecote is a vernacular structure. The tops of the gables are eroded, but suggest the roof was steeply pitched. It has a simple, timber-lined doorway through the north wall adjacent to the west gable. An inserted, blocked cart entrance is adjacent to the east gable in the south wall. Set high in each gable there is a window with a projecting sill, an internal splay and timber lintels retaining evidence of vertical bars. The windows have been blocked with C19 brickwork and the bars removed.

Internally the dovecote has nest boxes built into both north and south walls with fairly regular rows of roughly square openings set directly above continuous string courses (forming alighting ledges), the boxes being L shaped internally. The lowest rows of boxes are set about 1m above the original floor surface. The nest boxes of the north wall (nearly 100) are constructed from chalk blocks. The nest boxes in the south wall are more regularly built in brickwork and are slightly more closely spaced with about 100 surviving, some being lost with the insertion of the cart entrance. The west gable is plain walled with no evidence that it had nest boxes. The east gable, largely rebuilt in chalk from a C18 brick plinth, only retains nest boxes to either side of this rebuilding: chalk-built ones to the north and rather irregular brick-built ones incorporating chalk ledges to the south. The roof structure has been lost except for two tie beams.

The stable abuts the west gable of the dovecote and is also built from chalk blocks rising from a limestone plinth. The ridgeline of its steeply-pitched roof is set immediately below the gable window to the dovecote. The stable includes some C18 brickwork repairs to the corner and around the single opening, the timber doorway. Internally the roof structure is a modern replacement, but the stable retains a couple of built-in storage alcoves, two metal hay feeders and a water/feed trough.

The lean-to is irregularly built of chalk and brick with a low-pitched pantile roof.


Books and journals
Cooke, G, The Complete English Farmer, (1772), 81-86
"Dovecotes" English Heritage Monuments Protection Programme Report, Oxford Archaeological Unit (1995)


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

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