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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Timber porch detail
A covered porch.

A porch (from the Catalan word porxo)[1] is a structure attached to a building, forming a covered entrance to a vestibule or doorway.[2] It is external to the walls of the main building proper, but may be enclosed by screen, latticework, broad windows, or other light frame walls extending from the main structure.

There are various styles of porches, all of which depend on the architectural tradition of its location. All porches will allow for sufficient space for a person to comfortably pause before entering or after exiting the building. However, they may be larger. Verandahs, for example, are usually quite large and may encompass the entire facade as well as the sides of a structure. At the other extreme, the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan has the longest porch in the world at 660 feet (200 m) in length. [3]


North America

In New England the porch is typically a small vestibule where wet or muddy clothing can be removed before entering the main house. This is often called a mudroom in New England. In the Western United States, ranch style homes often use a covered porch to provide shade for the entrance and southern wall of the residence. In the Southern United States and Southern Ontario, Canada, a porch is often as broad as it is deep, and may provide sufficient space for residents to entertain guests or gather on special occasions. Older American homes, particularly those built during the era of Victorian Architecture, or the Queen Anne style, often included a porch in both the front and the back of the home. However, many American homes built since the 1940s with a porch only have a token one, too small for comfortable social use and adding only to the visual impression of the building. The New Urbanism movement in architecture urges a reversal in this trend, recommending a large porch facing the street, to help build community ties. [4]

When covered, a porch not only provides protection from sun or rain but may also form, in effect, an extra exterior room that may accommodate chairs, tables and other furniture, to be used as living space. Screens are often used in some areas to exclude flying insects.

Porches typically are architecturally unified with the rest of the house, using similar design elements as the rest of the structure, and may be integrated into the roofline or upper stories.


Highly decorated two-storey south porch of 1480 at Northleach Parish Church, England.

In Britain the projecting porch had come into common use in churches by early medieval times. They were usually built of stone, but also occasionally of timber. They were normally placed on the south side of the church, but also on the west and north sides, sometimes in multiple. The porches acted to give cover to worshippers, but they also had a liturgical use. At a baptism, the priest would receive the sponsors with the infant in the porch and the service began there.

In later medieval times, the porch sometimes had two storeys, with a room above the entrance which was used as a local school, meeting room, storeroom and even armoury. If the village or town possessed a library of books, it would be housed there.

Sometimes the church custodian lived in the upper storey and a window into the church would allow supervision of the main church interior. Some British churches have highly ornamented porches, both externally and internally. The south porch at Northleach, Gloucestershire, in the Cotswolds, built in 1480, is a well-known example, and there are several others in East Anglia and elsewhere in the UK.[5]


Ancient temple porch to a mandapa, India
The porch to the entrance to Cave Two, Ajanta Caves

In India porches and verandahs are popular elements of secular as well as religious architecture. In the Hindu temple the mandapa is a porch-like structure through the gopuram (ornate gateway) and leading to the temple. It is used for religious dancing and music and is part of the basic temple compound.[6] Examples of Indian buildings with porches include:

See also


  1. ^ Porch or Porxo, Architecture Week
  2. ^ Ching, Francis D.K. (1995). A Visual Dictionary of Architecture. New York: John Wiley and Sons. p. 25. ISBN 0-471-82451-3.  
  3. ^
  4. ^ Mohney, David (1991). Seaside. Architecture Design and Technology Press ISBN 978-1854548030
  5. ^ Jones, 1969, p.46-48
  6. ^ Ching, Francis D.K. (1995). A Visual Dictionary of Architecture. New York: John Wiley and Sons. p. 253. ISBN 0-471-82451-3.  
  • Jones, Lawrence (1969). The Observer's Book of English Churches. Frederick Warne & Co. Ltd. ISBN 0-7232-0078-5.  

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

PORCH (through the Fr. porche, from Lat. porticus; the Ital. equivalent is portico, corresponding to the Gr. vap07.7; Ger. Vorhalle), a covered erection forming a shelter to the entrance door of a large building. The earliest known are the two porches of the Tower of the Winds at Athens; there would seem to have been one in front of the entrance door of the villa of Diomede outside the gate at Pompeii; in Rome they were 1 It commands a fine view, and Corsica is sometimes visible, though not Sardinia, as Strabo (and following him, Lord Macaulay) erroneously state.


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probably not allowed, but on either side of the entrance door of a mansion, porticoes set back behind the line of frontage were provided, according to F. Mazois, as shelters from sun and rain for those who paid early visits before the doors were opened. In front of the early Christian basilicas was a long arcaded porch called "narthex" (q.v.) In later times porches assume two forms - one the projecting erection covering the entrance at the west front of cathedrals, and divided into three or more doorways, &c., and the other a kind of covered chamber open at the ends, and having small windows at the sides as a protection from rain. These generally stand on the north or south sides of churches, though in Kent there are a few instances (as Snodland and Boxley) where they are at the west ends. Those of the Norman period generally have little projection, and are sometimes so flat as to be little more than outer dressings and hoodmoulds to the inner door. They are often richly ornamented, and, as at Southwell in England and Kelso in Scotland, have rooms over, which have been erroneously called parvises. Early English porches are much longer, and in larger buildings frequently have rooms above; the gables are generally bold and high pitched. In larger buildings also, as at Wells, St Albans, &c., the interiors are as rich in design as the exteriors. Decorated and Perpendicular porches partake of much the same characteristics, the pitch of roof, mouldings, copings, battlements, &c., being, of course, influenced by the taste of the, time. The later porches have rooms over them more frequently than in earlier times; these are often approached from the lower storey by small winding stairs, and sometimes have fire-places, and are supposed to have served as vestries; and sometimes there are the remains of a piscina, and relics of altars, as if they had been used as chantry chapels. It is probable there were wooden porches at all periods, particularly in those places where stone was scarce; but, as may be expected from their exposed position, the earliest have decayed. At Cobham, Surrey, there was one that had ranges of semicircular arches in oak at the sides, of strong Norman character. It is said there are several in which portions of Early English work are traceable, as at Chevington in Suffolk. In the Decorated and later periods, however, wooden porches are common, some plain, others with rich tracery and large boards; these frequently stand on a sort of half storey of stone work or bahut. The entrance porches at the west end of cathedrals are generally called portals, and where they assume the character of separate buildings, are designated galilees; e.g. the porticoes on the west side of the south transept of Lincoln Cathedral, and at the west end of the nave of Ely Cathedral, and the chapel at the west end of Durham Cathedral. The finest example in England of an open projected porch is that of Peterborough Cathedral, attached to the Early Norman nave.

The term "porch" is also given to the magnificent portals of the French cathedrals, where the doors are so deeply recessed as to become porches, such as those of Reims, Amiens, Chartres, Troyes, Rouen, Bourges, Paris, and Beauvais cathedrals, St Ouen, Rouen, and earlier Romanesque churches, as in St Trophime, Arles and St Gilles. Many, however, have detached porches in front of the portals, as in Notre Dame at Avigon, Chartres (north and south), Noyon, Bourges (north and south), St Vincent at Rouen, Notre Dame de Louviers, the cathedrals of Albi and Le Puy, and in Germany those of Spires and Regensburg, and the churches of St Laurence and St Sebald at Nuremberg. (R. P. S.)

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Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

The word "porch" is in the New Testament the rendering of three different Greek words:

(1.) Stoa, meaning a portico or veranda (Jn 5:2; Jn 10:23; Acts 3:11; Acts 5:12).

(2.) Pulon, a gateway (Mt 26:71).

(3.) Proaulion, the entrance to the inner court (Mk 14:68).

See also: Solomon's Porch

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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