Doves Yard InsideJust on the right as you approach the West face of Holy Trinity Church in Cloudesley Square is the entrance to Dove’s Yard, which was converted into a residential mews about 15 years ago.

 

Doves Yard

Previously it housed the offices and workshops of Dove Brothers, the builders.  This old-established Islington business was founded by William Spencer Dove, a jobbing carpenter, when he arrived in London in 1824.  His first major contracts in Islington were the Islington Literary and Scientific Institution in Almeida Street, (now Almeida Theatre) and much of Milner Square.  By the 1870s the company possessed 12 horses, premises in Moon and Studd Streets, and two steam engines.  Dove Brothers built about 130 London churches, including at least 15 in Islington.

 

Around 1900, Dove Brothers took over the leaseholds of several properties in the area from the Cloudesley Trust (the original 81 year leases were then expiring), usually on condition that the buildings were repaired or rebuilt.  This included Nos 1-6 Cloudesley Street and the whole of what was then known as Milton's Yard, a collection of run-down buildings occupied mostly by cab drivers and described by the Trust's surveyor as "small tenements and some workshops and stables which were very old and quite worn out and in fact scarcely fit for human habitation" (Cathy Ross, 2017).  Dove Brothers demolished these buildings, replacing them with their own workshops in what was renamed Dove's Yard, and built Cloudesley Mansions, a new block with "artisan dwellings" together with Dove Brothers offices, with an arched entrance from Cloudesley Place into the yard.  In 1907 an identical block, Stonefield Mansions, was built at the North end of the yard, with another arched entrance (pictured above).

 

Throughout the late 19th and 20th centuries up to 1993, Dove brothers prospered as a prominent and well-regarded building company which worked on a huge number of buildings, ecclesiastical, commercial and residential, in Islington particularly but also throughout London and beyond.  The history of Dove Brothers is described in "Building in the Blood" (1981) by David Braithwaite which describes major commissions such as the Wesleyan Central Hall at Westminster, Australia House on the Strand, Guildford Cathedral and the restoration of St Paul's Cathedral and Wren's spires at St Mary-le-Bow and St Dunstan-in-the-East.  During the First World War the Dove Brothers workshops were turned over to the mass production of mahogany airplane propellers, as shown in the photo below c.1918 (courtesy Historic England Archive ref: bl24379/003). 

Dove Brothers Interior with Propellors 1918 11538 700

 

Dove Brothers were involved in the building or rebuilding of many if not most Islington churches over the years, including St Andrews in Thornhill Square and extensive repairs to St Mary's on Upper Street.  Perhaps surprisingly, they did relatively little work at Holy Trinity in Cloudesley Square, although Braithwaite does record the following commissions:

  • 1867.  Holy Trinity.  Architect: E Christian.  Renovations completed October 1867; total cost £1250
  • 1909.  Holy Trinity.  Architect: J S Alder.  New Mission Hall  [what was this I wonder?].

But in a satisfying twist, it seems that craftsmen previously apprenticed at Dove brothers will be working on the current restoration.