ANOTHER bike ride on a sun-drenched English evening and another dovecote jumped right out at us. There it was, waving at us over a stone wall at Aldbrough St John, between Richmond and Darlington, in the grounds of Manor Farm.

The farm was built in 1831 and its dovecote in 1832 by the Duke of Northumberland who owned nearby Stanwick Park – it was a secondary residence as his main abode was Alnwick Castle. Indeed, the Duke was a Tory politician who at that time was in charge of running Ireland, so he was probably a little too busy to take an intimate interest in the Stanwick estate.

His brother, Algernon Percy, Lord Prudhoe, lived at Stanwick, and probably built the farm and the dovecote. The Listed Building’s schedule notes that the farm’s original name was Lucy Cross Farm, after the junction of Lucy Cross on the nearby Great North Road, which might have been the inspiration for the cruciform shape of the farmhouse.

The schedule notes that the dovecote has the initials TR on it, and the writer says that the dovecote “is a charming affectation expressing the status of the farm complex”.