London Open House: Eastcote Coach House and Dovecot

As a child I often used to play in the walled garden in Eastcote.  Us children also attended the clinic at Eastcote House, and had our jabs for measles and the like.  We were amazed in the sixties when the house was left to go into a dilapidated state, then was finally demolished.  One evening before the building’s demise we led an expedition into the boarded up house.  We heard some noises coming from upstairs, then spooky footsteps coming down them.  We jumped back, as did the people coming down the stairs ….. who were other school children on a similar expedition to see what things were like in the soon to be demolished building.  
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Eastcote House in all its glory from a photo

Eastcote House
Until Eastcote House finally closed it’s doors (1962) and was demolished (1964) there had beena house on the site for at least 450 years. The first recorded mention of the house was in 1507 when it was in the possession of the Walleston family and was known as Hopkyttes. Later, in about 1525, Ralph Hawtry married into the Walleston family and the house became the
Hawtry’s main residence. This commenced a continuous association of the family, who later
took the name Hawtry-Deane, of over 400 years with the house. By the end of the 19th century
the Hawtry-Deane’s were the largest landowners in the parish of Ruislip, with the estate based
upon Eastcote House

Much of Eastcote House Gardens is short-mown, undulating
amenity grassland. Many fine old ornamental trees grace the
landscape. The significance of the word ‘gardens’ in the
name of the site is due mainly to the Walled Garden where
horticultural expertise is displayed in the maintenance of
shrubs, herbaceous borders and herb beds. An orchard
retains the tradition of past domestic use and Mulberry, Fig,
Apples, Walnut and Medlar are tended. It is these features
which led to the designation of the site as one of Hillingdon
Borough’s ‘Gardens of Excellence’.
The Coach House and Dovecot, together with the walls of
the Walled Garden, stand testimony to the status of the
residents when the House was in its heyday and enjoyed
local prestige; they are all listed buildings.

In the seventies I had been reading a great number of the excellent Dennis Wheatley Black Magic Books.  Some hideous laughter and noises were coming from the boarded up coach house.  I began to suspect something unusual was going on, so I flagged down a passing police car.  It was a Morris Minor type.  I expressed concern that there was something strange going on in the coach house which was boarded up.  The policeman went up the dark driveway with a police dog.  We thought that he had been a long time.  Then he came back with a grim look on his face.  Saying that it was not in use but some gardeners had met there to discuss plans for planting out the walled garden.


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The Coach House on the 19th September 2010
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The Walled Garden on the 19th September 2010

The Walled Garden
Listed as being built in the 17th century
the use of the garden would have
changed over the years. In its heyday it
would have been a kind of outside
horticultural workshop for the
production of fruit, flowers and
vegetables for the House.

The Open House event over the weekend the 18th and 19th September saw many public buildings and private houses open for the public to visit.  We did want to go to West House to see the Heath Robinson Museum, but unfortunately that was over subscribed.   We have never been inside the Dovecot, so we decided to give it a visit.

First we entered the door of the Coach House. Inside were two large Billiard Tables.  Even though it was a reasonably warm day the building felt very cool.

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The downstairs section of the Coach house September 19th 2010

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The small upstairs balcony in the Coach House September 19th 2010

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The staircase in the coach house leading to the small upstairs balcony

The Dovecot was in fact a pigeon loft.  They used to breed the birds for eating.  There were shelves on which they were stored and a rotating support for ladders which is shown in the pictures below. The ladder would be used to reach shelves on which the pigeons roosted, the wooden shelves were all round the Dovecot, but no longer exist.  It is used as a storehouse for tools etc. now. A mysterious blob appeared in my fish eye lens shots but these were taken in darkness, there are no lights inside.  The shot of the entrance may give the appearance it is a circular building, that is only the fish eye lens that makes it look like that. 

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The entrance to the Dovecot

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The Dovecot from outside

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Inside the Dovecot with the rotating hoist – looking upwards

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An alternative shot
I took some shots of some of the flowers in the walled garden

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Finally as we left the walled garden and the Eastcote House grounds we walked back along the Eastcote High Road. Much to my amazement in the grounds of the also demolished Haydon Hall were children playing on bikes on the hills surrounding the trees there.  Something that my brother and I and friends also used to do in the 1960s – nothing changes even in this computer age thank goodness!

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The Open House weekend happens each year all over London, thanks to the volunteers that made it possible for us to visit these historic buildings, not normally open to the general public!


The historic passages in small print have been taken from the management plans for the site.

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