Front doors come in a myriad of styles. Whether a statement entrance, with ornamental panelling and a columned portico, or a modest plank and brace door with latch and whitewashed doorstep, the front door hints at the aspirations and style of those within. It is the threshold over which visitors are welcomed and intruders are not. Callers have time to study the entrance features while they wait on the doorstep. A painted or polished front door with shiny letterbox and handsome knocker is a welcome sight.
Until the advent of a police force, front doors were solid and sturdy, and furnished with iron bars, locks and chains to protect the household from intruders. Fanlights were introduced in the 18th century to allow some light into the hallway. This innovation led to intricate displays of ornate glazing bars in a bewildering array of designs. Not until the late 19th century were glazing panels introduced into front doors. These were either of opaque or coloured glass to provide privacy but allow more light into the house.
The front entrance could be enhanced by a porch which offered further scope for creating a welcome, offering the visitor shelter and protecting the door from the weather. Whether garnered by honeysuckle, hanging baskets or bay trees, the front door remains the place to make a good first impression.This entry was posted in Architecture, Blog and tagged architectural historian, building history, house detective, house history, research, vernacular architecture