Porch - Britain

Britain

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.

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