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How To Make A Grand Entrance

Question. What do the White House, the Royal Opera House, and the Pantheon in Rome all have in common?


They all have a portico.

Portico from the Latin ‘porticus’ is a roofed porch or colonnade that fronts on to a building entrance, usually supported by columns or enclosed by walls, and was widely used in ancient Greece.

The Parthenon on the Acropolis in Athens is probably one of the most well-known and finest example of this. Built in the mid 5th Century, the structure, dedicated to Athena, goddess of wisdom, is today one of the world’s most popular tourist attractions, visited by over 7m tourists each year.

So, is there a place for a Portico in the 21st Century?

You only have to trawl through Instagram to see the number of photos currently being uploaded showing how modern day porticos can massively enhance an otherwise plain frontage and potentially increase the value of the property.

We’ve been creating cast stone porticos for many years as you can see from our photo gallery. From the smart ornate to the grandiose, there are as many portico types as there are architectural styles and we work closely with architects and specifiers to ensure we create porticos and decorative details that noticeably enrich the property.

This applies, whether you are adding a new portico or re-modelling an existing one. For example, adding embellishments such as friezes, spandrels and railings or a cast stone balustrade around the top to create a balcony.

We can also improve the entrance with the addition of steps and platforms.

Porticos are designed to create attention and make a statement and have been a popular addition to houses in this country since the 17th Century. The first recorded classical portico is the Vyne, an estate and country house in Hampshire, originally built for Henry VIII’s Lord Chamberlain, Lord Sandys, and now owned by the National Trust.

Famed for its Tudor chapel and extensive library, the building’s portico was added in 1654 for Chaloner Chute, a lawyer and politician, and friend of MP, Horace Walpole, son of the first British Prime Minister, Robert Walpole, who bought the house in 1563.

After demolishing part of the decaying building, Chute employed the renowned architect John Webb, to add the imposing portico – the first of its kind on an English country house. Webb had studied under Inigo Jones, one of England’s most influential architects, who introduced the British to the attraction of porticos.

His classical styling and use of porticos can still be seen in many public buildings especially in London. These include The Banqueting Hall in Whitehall, Queen’s House in Greenwich and St Paul’s church, Covent Garden.

These imposing buildings helped set the style for classicism. Buildings with perfect proportions and symmetrical rooms and with exteriors built for show. What we would probably call today, a ‘Grander building’, and one that would usually be occupied by the gentry and autocracy.

So, what’s changed over the last 400 years?

Nothing is the answer.

Porticos continued to become increasingly popular in the 18th and 19th Century and today we are pleased to supply cast stone porticos to a wide range of modern day developers. For example, we recently created a traditional exterior portico for a state of the art £4.5m prestigious property in Beaconsfield, Bucks.

Built by developer, Gerrards Cross based, Mentmore Homes, the imposing Georgian-style residence, has been designed to an exacting standard that combines the latest internal ‘smart’ technology with a warm and welcoming exterior.

In 2018, we were delighted to be invited to further enhance the already impressive entrance portal with a bespoke designed portico. We manufactured the portico, heads and cills, surrounds, string course and keystones in wetcast Portland material based on drawings and specifications produced by our in-house technical department.

Wetcast Portland was chosen for its density, having a compressive cube strength more than 45N/mm², as well as offering a smooth finish that meets a demanding design and performance standard.

As can be seen from this example, cast stone porticos undoubtedly add kerb appeal as well as value to suitable properties and can be produced as a standard design to any height, width or depth or custom made to suit a specific requirement.

You will find a selection of Serene Stone Porticos in the gallery and sample technical spec drawings here. Our technical department provides full support including the supply of CAD drawings.

For more details please phone: 01773 813993