I have recently become fascinated in observing these "towers" used as a front-gate entrance for a house.

Do these have any special kind of name?

enter image description here
(For a slightly larger picture, click on this link)

They of course vary in appearance, especially the styling of the roof (i.e., roof angle and material).

  • Where is the front gate in the picture? Aug 6, 2012 at 8:22
  • @coleopterist. The entrance to the house is on the left, just behiond the corner of the white wall. You can see wooden poles going down.
    – Paola
    Aug 6, 2012 at 8:26
  • I'm curious to know where such entrances are to be found. Here in Italy they are sometimes created outside tenement buldings surrounded by a garden. They are meant to offer shelter to people, particularly when they don't live there and need to look for the name of those they want to visit on a board of doorbells, or while they wait for the outer door to be opened. I've never seen them outside cottages or semidetached houses.
    – Paola
    Aug 6, 2012 at 8:36
  • Here is a view of the interior (I guess I could call it that): dl.dropbox.com/u/900723/HouseFrontDoorTower_F.jpg Aug 6, 2012 at 8:52
  • 2
    You can also consider the rather macabre option of lychgate (WP), and the Japanese equivalent, Karamon. Aug 6, 2012 at 14:00

4 Answers 4


In this instance, a Brit would probably describe it as a porch (the word has a slightly different connotation in American English).

Something more substantial like the one below, though, would be called a gatehouse.

Crichel House gatehouse, Dorset UK

© Copyright Clive Perrin and licensed for reuse under CC-SA Link

  • In AmE, I would definitely call the above picture a porch. The OP's picture and the picture you gave only allow walking through as an entrance, not convening to sit or connected to the main building (which is what 'porch' means to me).
    – Mitch
    Aug 6, 2012 at 13:56
  • @Mitch: did you leave out a "not" in your comment? I wouldn't call something a "porch" unless it's attached to the main building. Aug 6, 2012 at 18:45
  • hm..sorry..tortured syntax. Yes, a porch (in AmE) -is- connected to the main building. What (Andrew? anybody?) does porch mean differently in BrE?
    – Mitch
    Aug 6, 2012 at 20:17
  • It's true that porches are usually attached to houses. But the other words which might apply, gatehouse, portico are all rather grander; and entrance shelter is unknown -- an entrance shelter is a porch.
    – Andrew Leach
    Aug 6, 2012 at 21:12

In the U.S. this would probably be called a portico. The American Heritage Dictionary defines it as:

A porch or walkway with a roof supported by columns, often leading to the entrance of a building.

Where these entrances are surrounded by plantings, they are often called arbors.

  • I'll agree with portico, but not arbor. I think of arbors as structures designed to have vines climbing on them. Aug 6, 2012 at 14:10
  • 2
    @PeterShor - I agree that the image shown would not be called an arbor, that many arbors have integral plantings, and many are not even entranceways. However, many open wooden entrance arches are being called arbors (at least in the Northeast US) even without greenery.
    – bib
    Aug 6, 2012 at 14:20
  • Portico means something far grander in the UK.
    – Andrew Leach
    Aug 6, 2012 at 15:18
  • 3
    @AndrewLeach - Many porticos are very grand in US too, including the entrance to the White House. But it can work for humble as well.
    – bib
    Aug 6, 2012 at 15:27
  • 1
    Isn't a portico something closer to 'colonnade', a long thin open passageway with columns along the sides, rather than a square outpost almost a security checkpoint?
    – Mitch
    Aug 6, 2012 at 20:18

Maybe there's a special name that I'm unaware of, but I'd simply call that a "sheltered entrance", or an "entrance shelter".

That seems to be a widely recognized term for such a structure.

  • Good idea! I would accept both answers if I could Aug 6, 2012 at 11:12

It's a lychgate, formally used for such a structure outside a Church but has expanded to the general. I don't think it is used much nowadays.

Lychgate: a small gate with a small, sloping roof over it that leads into the area around a church

[Cambridge English Dictionary]

  • The original lych gates, however, have internal benches either side so that a coffin can be rested in it and the bearers can sit and wait for the funeral party. If people are using 'lych gate' for a garden gate I'll bet they don't know the history of the term.
    – BoldBen
    Aug 9, 2021 at 10:27
  • I've just looked up the etymology of 'lych gate' and all the sources I found agree with Merriam Webster that 'lych' means 'corpse'. I definitely don't want a lych gate at the entrance to my garden!
    – BoldBen
    Aug 9, 2021 at 10:34
  • The Collins reference does not license the usage for the domestic variant OP asks about. And Lexico, M-W, Britannica, Wiktionary, CD, Farlex, AHD ... don't allow the broadening you suggest. Aug 9, 2021 at 11:13

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