The building of dovecotes in this country really took off once the Normans became established in England (took off??-sorry about that). There is a 12th Century dovecote at Rochester castle, for instance. Dovecotes seem to have been associated with the manorial system. Only Lords of the Manor could erect and service dovecotes; they provided meat and eggs throughout the winter for the manor. It is to be regretted that Thelwall's dovecote was demolished when housing was built during the 1950s and 1960s because it was allegedly in good condition, having been used by the Hall for storage once its prime purpose was gone.
It stood at the edge of the ground surrounding the Hall close to the Lymm Turnpike (Stockport Road). It was octagonal with a slate roof and, according to Miss Joan Williamson, had a floor made from reused much older floor tiles (that would aid cleaning out).
Inside, there would have been a network of nesting holes (2000 would have not been uncommon) arranged around the walls with the central space that remained empty. Birds flew in through vents in the roof, humans used a door in the wall and eggs and birds would have been collected by climbing up the nest matrix.
How old was it? Well, a map of 1743 does not show it, nor does a field called Dove Field appear in documents before the mid-1700s so the best estimate is a build date during Thomas Pickering's occupation of the Hall (1747 to 1785) making it mid-eighteenth century. I hope he liked pigeon pie!