THE RESTORATION of Manorbier Dovecote was completed recently in collaboration with several organisations including the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority. The Dovecote, a Grade 1 listed scheduled ancient monument, was built in the 13th century to provide fresh meat and eggs for the inhabitants of the nearby castle and would have been home to approximately 250 birds. The doves and pigeons laid two eggs about six times a year and the young “squabs” were taken when fat, plump and juicy at 4-6 weeks old.
Partial restoration took place in the 19th century but the Medieval building had suffered from many years of neglect. Work to consolidate and preserve the Dovecote was completed in November 2014 by the Manorbier Medieval Landscape Restoration Group with advice from Cadw and the National Park Authority’s Building Conservation Officer. Group Chairman, David Glennerster said: “The work has been made possible by grants from the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, Cadw, P.A.V.S, Manorbier Community Council, private donations and considerable support from individuals in and around the village as well as the Picton Estate who own the Dovecote.
With the help of the Park Authority’s team we have been able to achieve something tangible to help protect our Heritage.” The Group also worked with the Authority’s interpretation team to install a new information board at the Dovecote together with a Memorial Bench in respect of two founder members of the group who have since passed away.
National Park Authority Building Conservation Officer Rob Scourfield added: “This is a great example of the Authority’s heritage and interpretation teams working with a community group to bring an important part of Manorbier’s history to the attention of the wider public.” The Dovecote restoration works initially provided for the removal of vegetation, selective re-pointing in lime mortar and the consolidation of the roof.
Upon removal of the overgrowth, it was found that the roof was actually tapered in three stages, the uppermost finished in mortared slate. Further funding was provided by the National Park Authority and Cadw to reinstate the slating, which was in poor repair. The work to the circular slate roofed Dovecote (one of the largest in Wales with 270 nesting holes) was carried out in two phases by two local contractors, Adrian Gill & Paterchurch Ltd. The Dovecote – which is fully accessible to the public – is owned by the Picton Estate, which has been fully supportive of the project.