Apley Woods

Apley Woods Dovecote

Apley Woods DovecoteApley Woods Dovecote

Dovecotes in the UK have been in existence since the middle of the 12th Century. Their purpose was to raise pigeons, to provide fresh, luxury meat for tables of the wealthy and the erection of a dovecote was controlled and granted under royal licence.

There is a misconception that pigeons provided winter food as a change from salted meats but there are records to show that fresh beef, mutton and pork were readily available all year round. A further point is that unfledged pigeons called squabs, were only to be had from about March to November. The older breeding birds were too tough to grace my lord's table and when past their prime, were given to the common folk.

The Apley Woods Dovecote is dated from mid eighteenth century. It is a two storey square brick construction. The lower storey is arched and provided storage space and access to the upper level. In this upper level are the nest holes for the birds, numbering in the region of 100.

There could possibly have been an ingenious device called a Potence. This was a ladder system that rotated about a central axis and allowed the pigeon keeper to harvest his birds from all levels. The highest level was 4m above the floor. The birds entered and left via a chimney construction on the tiled roof.

The pigeons were free to forage from the surrounding farmland and though tenant farmers were allowed to scare the birds away from their crops, often a child's occupation, they were forbidden by law to kill them.



Back to top

Previous page