|Location||Dunster, Somerset, England|
|Built for||Priory of Dunster|
|Designated||22 May 1969|
|Designated||4 August 1983|
|Reference no.||Somerset County No 33|
It is situated on Priory Green opposite the Tithe Barn and close to the walls of the Priory Church of St George. It is approximately 19 feet (5.8 m) high and 19 feet (5.8 m) in diameter, with walls around 4 feet (1.2 m) thick. There are five hundred and forty nest-holes.
There is no documentary evidence for the dovecote's date of construction but it some of the architectural features suggest it may have been as long ago as the 14th century. It would originally have belonged to the Benedictine Priory of Dunster which was a cell of Bath Abbey. Domestic pigeons were kept to provide squabs a luxury food from the breast meat of young pigeons. From the 12th century until 1619, only lords of the manor and parish priests were allowed to keep them. The priory was abolished in the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539, and property belonging to it was sold to the Luttrell family of Dunster Castle.
In the 18th century the floor level and door were raised among several major alterations. The lower tiers of nest holes were blocked to protect against brown rats which had arrived in the Britain in 1720 and reached Somerset by 1760. A revolving ladder, known as a "potence", was installed to allow the pigeon keeper to search the nest holes more easily. In the 19th century two feeding platforms were added to the axis of the revolving ladder. When the ladder was installed in the 16th century the base rests on a pin driven into a beam on the floor. The head of the pin sits in a metal cup in the base of the wooden pillar, which means the mechanism has never had to be oiled.
When the Dunster Castle estate was sold the dovecote was bought by the Parochial church council and opened to the public. Extensive repairs were undertaken in 1989.
- "Dovecote". Images of England. English Heritage. Retrieved 2009-06-04.
- "Dovecote, Priory Green, Dunster". Somerset Historic Environment Record. Somerset County Council. Retrieved 2009-06-04.
- Cooke, A.O. "Somerset and Devon". Book of Dovecotes. Chapter 17. Retrieved 2009-06-04.
- Ballard, Barbara. "Dunster Somerset". Britain Express. Retrieved 2009-06-04.
- "Dovecote, Dunster". Somerset Historic Environment Record. Somerset County Council. Retrieved 2009-06-04.
- Byford, Enid (1987). Somerset Curiosities. Dovecote Press. p. 93. ISBN 0946159483.