I recently spoke to a customer who was purchasing one of our external doors. Among other things we discussed the fact that she had a brick and timber porch attached to the entrance of her front door. We both agreed that a porch or canopy was a useful addition to offer weather protection not only to visitors, but to provided added protection for a new timber door. Of course Porches and Canopies are useful but need to be of a style that will enhance the façade of the property. So often I see porches and canopies, which look stuck on to the property and not in keeping with it’s age or style.
This conversation led me to think about the historical origins of Porches. My research led me to believe that a porch is an architectural concept that has existed as far back as prehistoric times. I remember reading in a series of books called Earths Children by Jean M Auel that overhanging rock shelters of prehistoric times were very necessary Porches for prehistoric peoples for shelter, socialising and work.
The word “porch” seems to derive from the Greek word Portico and Latin word porticus indicating a columned entrance to a temple. Looking at the architecture of the Ancient Greeks and Romans the front porch is very evident in their dwellings, often created with columned verandas and shaded walkways between buildings. If we look at the Italian Piazzas, as seen in Venice, in Piazza San Marco, we see superb examples of walkways to shelter from the heat of summer along with the rain in inclement weather. By contrast, Northern Europe has little evidence historically, in the use of porches apart from a small, enclosed area in a church often called a vestibule.
Nevertheless, a front porch has become synonymous with much of American architecture and the cultural way of life. The American term for a porch usually refers to a roofed area extending from the front façade of the property with open sides. The term “Porch Sitting” according to Wikipedia refers to “sitting on a front porch or stoop usually of a private residence, is a leisure activity which can be a direct or indirect form of social interaction”. Which was once considered to be a status symbol. “There are now thousands of porch sitters unions in all 50 states in the United States of America and at least three other countries”
What a lovely idea, maybe if we had more reliable summer weather in the UK we would have a tendency to do more porch sitting and draw attention to our lovely Front Doors.