Abbey House, home to Durham University’s Department of Theology and Religion, was built as a residence in the early eighteenth century, but incorporates fragments from earlier buildings.
Its simple, symmetrical façade is typical of the Georgian period.
It is thought to have been built on the site of a medieval gate, Lyegate, and even today, the remains of a medieval wall can be seen on its southern façade.
The building has had various uses over the course of its history: in 1899, it was used as a hostel for the first women students at Durham University. Because of this, the building was referred to as the 'dovecote', and the female residents, as the 'doves'. The accommodation for female students evolved to become St Mary’s College in 1919.