Monday 31 August 2020

The Tresham dovecote

This year, for our family holiday, we'd planned to go to Spain but the pandemic put paid to that so I spent my fortnight off work at home, doing plenty of writing and going out for walking expeditions with the family.
Dude and the dovecote
One day, I had to go to Corby Diagnostic for a blood-test and Dude came along to keep me company.  As payback for him, we went on a Pokemon hunt around the town and nearby Geddington and then, on the way home, he found a Pokemon gym in the middle of nowhere.  Careful navigation got us to the very small village of Newton and further investigation led us to the Newton Field Centre, set into a church quite - oddly enough - some way from the houses.  I suggested to Dude there might be a spooky reason for this and we riffed some ideas for horror stories before wandering up the public footpath.

Off to the left was a dovecote, the source of the Pokemon gym and a building I didn't even realise was there.  Intrigued, we tramped across the field, found a very small door and - not quite knowing what to expect - went inside.  It was apparently built with space for 3,600 broods and it was a peculiar sensation, looking up and up and seeing all these holes around the wide open central space. 
"The dovecote was built c.1580 from roughly dressed course stone with very little mortar.  Its size is most unusual - fifty-three feet nine, by twenty-three feet seven, with the height to the eaves twenty feet and to the roof-ridge about thirty-five.  Now, more than four centuries later, it, the church and fishponds are all that remain of the Tresham family mansion, a place where it is said the Gunpowder Plot meetings were held."
information from the VADs J L Carr page

Dude through the small doorway
I'm lucky enough to live in an area rich in history - especially that of the Tresham family, who designed Rothwell's old Market Square building and the wonderful Triangular Lodge, as well as being prime conspirators in the Gunpowder Plot - and finding places like this really fires up the creative part of my brain.  This location will absolutely feature in my writing at some point, both the interior and the exterior and a friend pointed out there are footpaths that can get you from Kettering to the dovecote and back, so I'll be heading there again for more research and photographs.
Google maps screengrab shows the distance of the church from the houses and how big the Tresham estate must have been.
If you have a dovecote near you, I'd definitely go and check it out - who knows, it might inspire some stories for you too!


  1. I wonder whether a real-life location inspired the eerie, rural setting of your wonderfully depressing piece, "Mr. Huxton Goes Camping"; either way, I'll be very interested to see how this dovecote might feature in a future story. 'Things We Leave Behind' is a collection to which I often return for the sheer poignancy of many of the stories, especially "What Gets Left Behind," "The Bureau of Lost Children," "The Taste of Her," and "Time Runs..."

    1. Wow, thank you for this comment Z. The inspiration for "Mr Huxton" was a field full of bags on sticks, so it wasn't a particular location. I'm so pleased you liked the collection.