Pimp Hall Dovecote

Purcell LLP, London, 2019

 

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Artist’s studio breathes new life into historic park’s lost gem.

Constructed in the late 16th century, the Dovecote was one of several buildings on a privately owned agricultural estate in Chingford, London. Once owned by the Pympe family, subsequent proprietors of the estate included King Henry VIII, who was said to frequently rest and banquet at Pimp Hall Manor when travelling to and from London while on hunting excursions in the surrounding forest.

Originally an ancillary building built to provide storage of birds, a source of game meat for the wider estate, the Dovecote is now the sole surviving structure from this bygone era and the only reminder of the area’s agricultural background. Today, it sits alone within the Pimp Hall Nature Reserve, visited daily by the public and locals.

Falling into dereliction during the latter part of the 20th century, various detrimental adaptions had been made by subsequent owners resulting in a loss of original detail and identity. Isolated and vacant, the building had become a target for vandalism. Despite attempts to restore the building in the 1980s, the Dovecote was placed on Historic England’s Buildings at Risk Register.

Purcell were appointed by the London Borough of Waltham Forest, the Dovecote’s current owner, to develop proposals for repair and reuse of the building. In finding a modern-day purpose, the restoration provides a space for an artist-in-residence to compose works within the tranquillity of the Nature Reserve, ensuring regular occupancy.

Historical research aided in informing the external treatment of the building, to return the Dovecote to its original form. Internally, the ground and first floors have been reconnected, with natural light enhanced through opening the glover – the birds’ original entrance. Employing traditional craft materials, sympathetic to the building’s context and materiality, harmonises the new and the old in this exquisite little building.

Data

  • Begun: Jun 2018
  • Completed: Sep 2019
  • Floor area: 47m2
  • Sector: Arts and culture
  • Total cost: £136,783
  • Funding: Heritage of London Grant
  • Tender date: May 2017
  • Procurement: JCT Intermediate
  • Address: Pimp Hall Nature Reserve, off Kings Road, Chingford, London, E4 7HR, United Kingdom

Professional Team