Porch is the rendering in the A. V. of the following words:
1. אוּלָם or אֻלָם, ulam (from אוּל, before), a vestibule or hall (Sept. αὐλάμ; Vulg. porticus [1Ch 28:11]; ναός; porticus). It is used of the entrance-hall of a building (Eze 40:7,48); of the place where the throne was placed, and where judgment was administered (1Ki 7:7, SEE PALACE ); and of the veranda surrounding a court (Eze 41:15). It is especially applied to the vestibule of the Temple (1Ki 6; 1Ki 7; Joe 2:17). SEE TEMPLE. "The porch of the Lord" (2Ch 15:8; 2Ch 29:17) seems to stand for the Temple itself.
2. מַסדּרוֹן, misderon, a sort of colonnade or balcony with pillars (Jg 3:23); probably a corridor connecting the principal rooms of the house (Wilkinson, Ancient Egyptians, 1, 11). It may have been a sort of veranda chamber in the works of Solomon, open in front and at the sides, but capable of being enclosed with awnings or curtains, like that of the royal palace at Ispahan described by Chardin (7, 386, and pl. 39). The word is used in the Talmud (Middoth, 3, 7).
3. Πυλών (Mt 26:71), probably the passage from the street into the first court of the house, in which, in Eastern houses, is the mastdbah, or stone bench for the porter or persons waiting, and where also the master of the house often receives visitors and transacts business (Lane, Mod. Eq. 1, 32; Shaw, Trac. p. 207). The word rendered "porch" in the parallel passage (Mr 14:68) is προαύλιον, the outer court. The scene therefore of the denial of our Lord took place either in that court or in the passage from it to the house-door. SEE HOUSE.
4. The term στοά is used for the colonnade or portico of Bethesda, and also for that of the Temple called Solomon's porch (Joh 5:2; Joh 10:23; Ac 3:11; Ac 5:12). Josephus describes the porticos or cloisters which surrounded the Temple of Solomon, and also the royal portico (Ant. 8, 3, 9; 15:11, 3, 5; War, 5:5, 2). These porticos are described by Tacitus as forming an important line of defense during the siege (Hist. 12). SEE SOLOMON'S PORCH.
PORCH (Lat. polticus) is the term applied in ecclesiastic architecture to the adjunctive erection placed over the doorway of a church. In the early ecclesiastical structures, raised after infant baptism became prevalent in the West, and the discipline of the catechumens (q.v.) had fallen into desuetude, the narthex (q.v.) was given the form of a vestibule, frequently closed, and sufficiently capacious to contain a large number of persons and permit the celebration of different ceremonials. This was really what we now understand by porch. Few churches, cathedrals, conventual or parochial, were, until the middle of the 12th century, unprovided with a central porch in front of the principal entrance; but after the 13th century they were not so common.
The earliest porches in the West, dating from the 8th to the 11th century, are shallow, and extended across the church front, as at Clermont. One of the earliest is at St. Font, Perigueux. In some cases they were recessed under the tower, as at St. Germain-des-Pres (Pais), Limoges, Poissy, of the 9th or 10th century, St. Benet-sur-Loire, Moissac, and St. Savin. During the 11th century this became the rule; in the 13th it was rare, but at a later date it reappeared at Caen, Fribourg, and Gralinrook. At St. Savin the porch is defensible and protected by a ditch, just as the castellated palace stands in front of the western entrance of Cashel Cathedral. The giant porch of Vienna, imposing as it is, is far exceeded by the three magnificent Early English porches of Peterborough, in which accord with the entire work, while those of many of the great French cathedrals are mere afterthoughts, noble but accidental additions. At Fribourg, Rheims, and Chartres (1250-80) the porches are covered with statuary.
Towards the close of the 12th century the ceremonies performed within them fell into desuetude, and they in consequence dwindled into a mere appendage of the nave. Then, from the exclusive use of western doors, large lateral porches, usually in cathedrals, as at Chartres, Mans, Bayeux, Puyen-Velay Chalons-sur-Marne, Wells, Salisbury, Lincoln, and Hereford, were built for the convenience of worshippers when entering or leaving the church, for benedictions, and the preliminaries of marriages and baptism, and the passage of funerals. The monastic churches in towns imitated the arrangement. These porches were usually closed at the sides, as in the Norman examples of Kelso, Selby, Southwell, Sherborne, and Malmesbury, although that of Alencon is open. At Hereford the outer porch (cir. 1513) is open, but the inner Decorated porch is closed. Until the close of the 14th century porches, generally of open form, were commonly built. The lateral porch fronted the side which faced the more populous portion of the city — at Gloucester, Canterbury, Malmesbury, Chester, and St. David's, on the south; at Durham, Hereford, Exeter, Christchurch (Hants), and Selby, on the north. At Chichester it is on the south side, opening on the cloister to admit processions to the shrine; at Westminster (called from its beauty Solomon's Porch) it stood in advance of the north front of the transept; at Lincoln the bishop's porch is in the presbytery. There are Early English porches at St. Alban's and Barnack, the latter, like All Saints', Stamford, Albury, and St. Mary's, Nottingham, having external and internal stone roofs. At Tewkesbury the vast western arch may have formed a gigantic porch. At Lincoln three recessed porches exist, as once at St. Alban's.
Wooden porches occur at all dates, and of these also fine examples remain. At Covington, Suffolk, is a wooden porch of Early English date, but much impaired by modern work. In the Decorated style wooden porches are not infrequently found; they are of one story only in height, sometimes entirely enclosed at the sides, and sometimes with about the upper half of their height formed of open screen-work; the gables have barge-boards, which are almost always feathered, and more or less ornamented: good specimens remain at Warblington, Hampshire; Horsemondeil and Brookland, Kent; Aldham, Essex; Hascombe, Surrey; Northfiell, Worcestershire, etc. Stone porches of this date have, not unusually, a room over them, as they have also in the Perpendicular style. Of this last-mentioned style there are many wooden porches, which differ but little from those of the preceding, except that the upper half of the sides is almost always formed of open screenwork: examples remain at Halden, Kent; Albury, Surrey, etc.
It is common to find porches of all ages considerably ornamented; those of the Norman style, and perhaps also the Early English, have the decorations principally on the inside and about the doorway; those of later date are often as much enriched externally as internally and sometimes more so: the room over the porch frequently contains a piscina, which shows that it once contained an altar, and was used as a chapel, and is sometimes provided with a fireplace, as if it had served for a dwelling-room. There are large porches at Tours, Pol, St. Leon, and Ulrichsk, and smaller specimens in several churches at Cologne. English cathedrals and minsters are remarkable for the homeliness of their doorways, resembling those of parish churches on an enlarged scale. The cathedral, in distinction to a minster, in the 12th century, was built with many porches and western doors opening directly on the close, as if inviting the entrance of crowds. Noyon, at the end of the 13th or beginning of the 14th century, is a solitary exception to this rule in possessing large porches in advance of its principal front.
Up to the 6th century children were exposed in the porch, and the Council of Aries required those who adopted them to place in the priest's hand a letter of contestation with regard to the sex and age of the child; and the Council of Vaison, complaining that the children were exposed to dogs, for fear of scandal required the priest at the altar to announce on Sundays the name of the adopter. Kings and princes were permitted to be buried in porches by the Council of Nantes (658), and interments were forbidden within church walls till the 12th century. At Ely, as in many ascertained examples in France, probably the recesses above the arcading were used as charnels, fenced in with an iron screen; and at Chichester there are still lateral tombs. (Gradually incense was used and litanies were chanted in porches. Fonts and basins for the ablutions of the faithful before entering the church were erected, and exhibitions of relics and sacred images were made. Markets were permitted, just as objects of piety are still sold in foreign porches on festival days. Feudal and other courts were held. At Sandwich a school was taught and books sold, and even in 1519 peddlers hawked their wares at Riccald. Chapters and religious bodies appealed to the civil power to put an end to such irregularities, and the great abbeys of Clugny, Matlbronn, and Citeaux, about the beginning of the 12th century, began to erect large enclosed porches in front of their churches. The Clugniacs built large ante-churches of two stories, as at Lewes; at Tournus, near the close of the 11th century. At the latter place they consisted of a nave and aisles of thirteen bays, with an upper chapel of St. Michael, in which the altar was used for a mass attended by penitents. At Clugny in the 13th century an altar and pulpit adjoined the church door. Their influence is perceptible in the large upper chapel over the porch at Pluv-en-Velay and Autun, and the tribune for an altar at Chatel Montagne, Monreale, and Dijon, which are said to have been used by women and minstrels. In many instances the view into the nave was unimpeded.
The Cistercians built western porches deep and longitudinal, in imitation of the narthex, according to the desire of St. Bernard, at Toury, Moutier, Charite-sur-Loire, Fountains, and Beaulieu. At Vezelay, in the 13th century, the porch, of two bays in length, forms a nave with aisles, lateral galleries, and a tribune for an altar over the minster door. In many French parish churches this plan was followed in order to accommodate mourners at funerals. In England an upper chamber sometimes occurs over porches, as at Southwell, Christchurch (Hants), and in parish churches used as a schoolroom or a chaplains' or watchers' dormitory. Placentia, Parma, and Modena have porches of two stories.
In the foreign examples pilgrims or penitents were marshaled on the ground-floor in order to hear an address from the pulpit, or mass said at the upper altar, while those who came from a distance found shelter in these vaulted porches just as the country people on the eves of great festivals pass the night under the porticos of St. Peter's at Rome. At Paulinzelle, cir. 1150, there is, and at Sherborne there was, a large parochial antechurch. At Glastonbury and Durham the Lady-chapel was placed in a similar position.
It is possible that these outer buildings served the same purpose of a place of previous assembly, just as the great western transept of Ely or Lincoln may have been also occupied on occasions when large multitudes flocked to the church. In some monastic churches it served as the forensic parlor for conversation with persons inadmissible within the inner portions. The children of the abbey serfs were baptized and the office at which their domestic servants and laborers attended was said. In all large churches the processions where arranged in the porch on Palm-Sunday, on Holy-cross Day, and in Rogatioins. Sometimes it formed a sanctuary, containing a ring in the door to which the fugitive cling, as at Durham, and at Cologne there was an inscription to this effect, "Here stood the great criminal."— Walcott, Sacred Archaeology, s.v.; Parker, Glossary of Architecture, s.v.