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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dovecotes

A dovecote is a structure intended to house doves or pigeons. Dovecotes normally contain pigeonholes for the birds to nest. Historically, doves and pigeons were important sources of food in Western Europe, and they were also kept for their eggs and droppings.

In Medieval Europe, a dovecote was a symbol of status and power and was therefore regulated by law. Under this law, a special privilege known as droit de colombier was given to nobles. Many ancient manors in the UK and France still have a dovecote.

Dovecotes may have been introduced to Britain by the Romans, but it is believed that doves were not commonly kept in Britain until after the Norman invasion. The traditional view holds that dovecotes were introduced by the Normans. The earliest known examples of dove-keeping occur in Norman castles of the 12th century.

The photograph below shows a dovecote from Chastleton House in rural Gloucestshire.

Chastleton House

Another example of a dovecote can be seen at Lytes Cary Manor in Somerset (see below).

Lytes Cary Manor

© 2011 John Westby

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