We see many fascinating things on our Cotswold day trips and our guests love learning about new things.
This week we’ve seen some stunning examples of dovecotes.
A dovecote is a building for pigeons or doves which contains pigeonholes for the birds to nest.
They come in a variety of designs and structures from cylindrical to hexagonal and were originally used to house the birds for their eggs and meat; as these were an important food source. Some were free standing separate structures or buildings and others were more modest boxes on the walls of barns or houses.
All dovecotes had a few design features to keep the prized birds safe. They were away from large trees and had to be shielded from prevailing weather. In addition, the birds needed to be kept safe from predators with doors that were shut at night time.
Owning a dovecote used to be a status symbol and defined your power. They were mainly built by wealthy people to supply themselves and their households with a luxurious food – the tender meat of young pigeons. But even the bird droppings were prized as a useful fertiliser and feathers were used for stuffing mattresses – nothing was wasted!
Some people believe that the Romans introduced dovecotes to Britain, however, the popular opinion is was the Normans. Nest holes can be seen in 12th century Norman castles such as Rochester Castle in Kent.
According to wikipedia, the earliest surviving, definitely dated free-standing dovecote in England was built in 1326 at Garway in Herefordshire.
Nowadays, the meat and eggs are not so readily used, so we dovecotes more decorative garden feature or by people who keep doves and pigeons as a hobby.
Here are some photos of dovecotes we’ve seen on our Cotswold day trips recently!