Main content

The Hidden History of the Front Door

Over the centuries front doors have protected our homes, welcomed visitors and expressed our individuality. Join Rachel Hurdley to discover the hidden meanings of the front door.

Join Rachel Hurdley as she opens the front door to step into a story of security, sociability, style and even the supernatural.
The front door may seem to be just a simple way of coming in and out of a house, but it almost always reveals more about the householder than they might expect. The style of door, its colour, the letter box, doorbell, even perhaps the house name, are all chosen to present an image to the outside world. In this programme, Rachel reveals how to interpret a front door and how developments in their design and use over the centuries reflect social changes.
Rachel starts at Chepstow Castle, where she admires what’s thought to be the oldest castle door in Europe and finds out why it was built to provide a strong deterrent to intruders; at the moated manor house of Baddesley Clinton she discovers how Medieval and Tudor home owners used their doors to ward off evil spirits; in Bath she goes back to the time of Jane Austen to hear about the social etiquette of paying a visit; moving forward to the 19th century she learns why the Victorians loved to put a house name on their front door; and finally she visits the Becontree Estate in East London and sees how the building boom of the 1920s and 30s meant many families had their own front door for the first time.

Interviewees:
* Sonia Solicari, Director of The Museum of the Home https://www.museumofthehome.org.uk/
* Jonathan Glancey, Architectural Writer and Historian
* Will Davies, Inspector of Ancient Monuments for Cadw, spoke at Chepstow Castle https://cadw.gov.wales/visit/places-to-visit/chepstow-castle
* James Wright, Buildings Archaeologist, spoke at Baddesley Clinton https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/baddesley-clinton
* Elaine Chalus, Professor of British History at the University of Liverpool, spoke at No. 1 Royal Crescent https://no1royalcrescent.org.uk/
* Laura Wright, Professor of English Language at the University of Cambridge and author of ‘Sunnyside: A History of British House Names’
* Bill Jennings, former resident and Housing Manager, spoke on the Becontree Estate

Presenter: Rachel Hurdley
Producer: Louise Adamson
Executive Producer: Samir Shah

Available now

28 minutes

On radio

Tue 12 Jul 2022 11:30

Broadcasts

  • Tue 7 Jun 2022 16:00
  • Tue 12 Jul 2022 11:30