THERE are dovecotes everywhere, and, following our article three weeks ago, we are grateful to Pam Rayment for drawing our attention to what must be the oldest dovecote on our patch, in Guisborough.

It belonged to St Mary’s Priory and most sources say that parts of it date back to the 14th Century – not all, of it, obviously, as it was restored after a fire in 2002.

It was one of those dovecotes that was designed around its potence. A potence had a revolving pole in the middle of the structure with horizontal arms attached to it which stretched out to the wall. At the wall, there was a ladder attached to the arms, and so the cote keeper could spin around the walls, checking each of the hundreds of nesting boxes for eggs or meat, without having to waste time climbing up and down and repositioning his ladder.

At the time of the dissolution in the 1540s, Gisborough Priory was the fourth richest monastery in Yorkshire, and much of its stone was carted off to make other buildings. However, the dovecote has remained largely intact but is in a private market garden next to the priory ruins.

Another dovecote to come to our attention is hidden in the middle of Hurworth almost opposite the Spar shop. It dates from the early 18th Century and is connected to the Old House.

It was pointed out by Dorothy Nattrass whose late husband, Ronald, started as a gardener at the Old House, tending to the fantails in the dovecote, but over time bought the walled garden which is now the Flowers by Nattrass florist nursery.

The dovecote is a Grade II listed building – as is the “pigsty with hen-house over” beside it.

Since our article, we’ve been alerted to dovecotes in Heighington (where there are three), Houghton-le-Side (a hamlet just south of Heighington with spectacular views over Darlington and Richmond), Killerby (near Staindrop, where the early 18th Century dovecote still has 160 original nesting boxes), Neasham and Walworth Castle.

Walworth’s dovecote is, like the others, a listed building, and its description says: “Small round-arched niche, possibly a beebole, to right.”

Never before have we encountered a listed beebole or indeed a beehole. Are there any other historic beeboles buzzing about the place?