In some cultures, particularly in Medieval Europe, the possession of a dovecote was a symbol of status and power and was consequently regulated by law. Only nobles had this special privilege known as droit de colombier. Many ancient manors in France and the United Kingdom have a dovecote (still standing or in ruins) in one section of the manorial enclosure or in nearby fields. For centuries doves and pigeons were a valuable source of meat, manure and feathers for mattresses. In the Middle Ages only manorial lords could keep these birds, so the few remaining medieval dovecotes are connected with manor houses, castles, parsonages or former monastic sites. The laws relaxed after about 1600, so many later farms had dovecotes, until their use declined after the 18th century.