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Bringing history to life

Steps are being taken to breathe new life into a timber-framed grade II listed building that has been put on Historic England’s ‘At Risk Register’, after Waltham Forest Council unveiled a plan to restore it to its former glory.

Demonstrating its commitment to the future of Pimp Hall dovecote – the last surviving structure from the historic Pimp Hall site, in King’s Road, Chingford – the Council has pledged funding to help the restoration works and improvements to the entrance.

The dovecote building, in which doves or pigeons were once kept for food, can be found in Pimp Hall Nature Reserve on the former land of the 16th Century Pimps Hall, gardens and farm. The Hall was used as a working farm until 1934, when it was bought by Chingford Council and the site divided between allotments, a Council-run nursery, and the small park in which the barn and dovecote are located.

Since that time, the dovecote’s timber frame has deteriorated, and the structure has been the target of vandalism. The Council is currently exploring how best to restore and protect the building, and in turn see it removed from the At Risk Register managed by Historic England – the public body that looks after England's historic environment.

Council Leader Chris Robbins said: “As well as saving Pimp Hall dovecote for future generations, we want to open it up to the community and enable residents and visitors to learn more about its history and the Pimp Hall site through a series of events and educational resources.

“We hope one day to see the dovecote being used for special events, exhibitions or open days, but first we need to fully understand the scale of work required in order to preserve it for all to enjoy.

“To that end, we’re currently carrying out a study to see what the restoration project could look like, and will work with the Friends of Pimp Hall Park and Nature Reserve, Pimp Hall Allotment Association, Hornbeam, Friday Hill Tenant Management Organisation and other local organisations to develop future proposals.”

Claire Ford, Chair of Friends of Pimp Hall Park and Nature Reserve, said: “We are all very excited that the dovecote is going to be restored. Funding from the Council will mean that this beautiful, listed building can once again be a wonderful reminder of our joint history and heritage in Chingford.”

The Pimp Hall dovecote restoration plan is part of the Council’s wider efforts to conserve and enhance the borough's heritage assets whilst maximising their contribution to future economic growth and community wellbeing. By improving public access to historic sites such as this, it is hoped visitors will develop a greater appreciation of Waltham Forest’s rich history.

Notes to editors

About Pimp Hall dovecote

The dovecote is thought to have been built around the 1540s – a similar time to the nearby Queen Elizabeth Hunting Lodge. Constructed from massive oak timbers, it is a structural reminder of the significance the area held for farming and hunting during the Tudor period. It was capable of supporting 250 nests, or 500 birds, with an output of 75 young birds each week.

Local legend has it that a secret passage once linked the farm on which the dovecote resided with the Manor House at Friday Hill, some 250 metres to the south east. The farmhouse became derelict and was demolished in 1939, while the barn fell to the storms of January 1990. The outlines of these buildings are today marked in gravel near the dovecote.

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