Caroline Orlebar’s campaign to save Willington Dovecote

Pigeon Holes

The campaign to save the dovecote for the nation began in the early 20th century, but in spring 1912 Caroline Orlebar enlisted the help of Lyndon Bolton, then president of Bedford Arts Club, and he contacted the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Buildings.

She set up a public subscription with the assistance of a local bank, to buy the impressive Tudor dovecote and a small piece of land in mid-June that year and sufficient funds had been received by mid-August. More than eighty people had contributed between 2s 6d and £25 each.

Sadly Miss Orlebar did not live to see the building handed over to the National Trust, but she lived long enough to see her campaign generate much interest, with letters and articles in the national press. Visitors have been enjoying the building and the stories about it and John Gostwick’s other buildings ever since.