Friday, March 25, 2016
Doves and dollies
I think I would have shared this dovecote with you whatever its context. I was immediately taken with its circular form, conical roof, and canted walls, a shape that seems to give it extra stability, as does the string course for that matter, while setting off its lovely toffee-coloured ironstone walls to great effect. It’s in what I take to be an outlying hamlet of the Northamptonshire village of Harlestone, a place not so much nucleated as a series of straggling lanes and junctions that is very much in the orbit of the Spencer estate of Althorp, whose park wall I drove past just before stopping by this arresting little building.
However, the context makes it more memorable still: a small group of cottages and associated buildings, plus a larger house (Park Farm House, ironstone again, with quoins), and above all the former premises of the Dovecote Laundry – no longer plying the dolly or posser, but still sporting its sign. It was the sign, course, that made me still more excited: regular readers will know my love of old signs and interesting lettering. Well, if you going to start a laundry here, next to the dovecote, you probably would call it the Dovecote Laundry, and you probably would give it a big blue sign with tall, eye-catching letters like these.
round dovecote, one octagonal one, and another built into a church. I don’t know whether this 15th-century example sent its young pigeons to the table of the Spencers’ great house nearby or whether they were the preserve of the farmer, but no doubt many thousands found their way to appreciative consumer’s plates across the years. Coo!