Portland stone is one of the most famous and popular construction materials in the world. The Jurassic limestone is quarried exclusively on the Isle of Portland in Dorset. The creamy white colour and hard-wearing durability combine elegance, prestige and strength. It is no surprise then, that Portland stone has been used in the construction of some of the most famous monuments in the world.
Portland stone has been quarried since the Roman times. Famous local monuments include Rufus Castle, Exeter Cathedral and Portland Castle. It has been shipped to London since the 14th Century. In the early 17th Century, Indigo Jones used Portland stone for the construction of the Banqueting Hall in Whitehall.Its popularity soared in the late 17th Century after the devastation of the Great Fire of London in 1666 when timber was no longer considered a viable building material. Hard-wearing yet soft enough to cut and carve, Portland stone was considered an ideal construction material for London’s changeable climate. Portland stone has proved to be one of the most pollution-resistant stones in the UK.
Wherever you go in London, you will see some of its most famous monuments built with Portland stone, that have stood the test of time and war.
The Monument was built between 1671 and 1677. It is a Greek-styled, fluted column made of Portland stone, topped with a decorative urn of fire. It was designed by Christopher Wren to commemorate the Great Fire of London. The Monument is strategically placed to mark where the fire started. It is 202 feet tall and 202 feet away from the baker’s shop in Pudding lane where the fire began.
The Cenotaph (Greek for ‘empty tomb’) was constructed in 1920 in memory of those who died during the Great War of 1914-1918. Simply designed in Portland stone, the monument is inscribed “The Glorious Dead”. Every year, in November a remembrance service is carried out at the Cenotaph to commemorate those who died in wars and conflicts since 1914.
The cathedral standing today was designed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1673. St Paul’s is one of the finest and most prestigious examples of Portland stone construction in the world. Located in the heart of the City, it is one of the most recognisable landmarks of London. 365feet high, St Paul’s was built after the Great Fire of London. Barges were used to transport nearly one million cubic feet of the stone up the Thames and into the heart of the city. After surviving the Blitz in 1940, St Paul’s became a symbol of the endurance and steadfast spirit of the London population.
Buckingham Palace has been the official London residence of the British monarch since 1837. The palace was originally built using a soft, mellow stone facade. However, time, weather and dirt caused the stone to crumble and deteriorate. In 1913 the front exterior of the palace was completely re-surfaced with the harder-wearing, more durable Portland stone. Today, this beautiful, timeless stone is still displayed in all its glory during royal family, balcony gatherings.
The British Museum is one of the finest examples of Greek revival architecture in London. Designed by Sir Robert Smythe in 1823, the public facings of the building were covered in Portland stone. The stunning fluted columns and pediment of the South entrance were built in the style of ancient Greek temples to pay homage to the marvellous treasures that were displayed inside.
Portland stone has become a famous treasure in its own right. The beautiful, creamy-white stone not only exudes elegance and prestige, it epitomises the pride and strength and enduring spirit of the English population.
The London Stone Step Company are proud suppliers of this prestigious stone. We can supply and install the highest-quality Portland stone to add a sense of history to your property.