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Solid Oak Lychgates: Not Just For Churches - Oak Timber Structures

Expertly Crafted Oak Structures
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News: Solid Oak Lychgates: Not Just For Churches

16/12/2022

Lychgates are traditionally associated with the old English parish church. But this isn't the only place where these charming gates stand. In fact, lychgates have found a whole new lease of life in home gardens and driveways. So let's talk about solid oak lychgates. There's so much more than meets the eye.

What is a lychgate?

You may notice a lychgate referred to as lych gate, lichgate, lyke-gate, or even as a lycugate. But what actually are they? Lychgates are a prominent feature at the entrance to traditional English churchyards. The classic-looking wooden roofed structures act as a gateway into the church grounds.

Lychgates often sit on a dwarf wall and have four upright posts supporting a pitched roof. Traditionally, thatch covers the roof, but nowadays timber and clay tiles are more popular choices.

The origins of the lychgate

The term lychgate has quite a macabre backstory. See, lych is the Saxon word for the deceased. So lychgates, with roots that date back to early British history, aren't just handsome hunks of oakb but they have stood as a symbolic gateway throughout history.

The Lychgate would often feature a communal bier which the corpse would be laid over during the first stage of the burial ceremony, shortly following as the entrance to welcome mourners entering the churchyard to pay their last respects to loved ones who had passed away. Lychgate basically means corpse-gate. Macabre indeed.

On that note, here's a bonus fact. 15 miles from our Hixon base is the city of Lichfield. In 300 AD, during the Roman reign of Diocletian, they martyred many settlers on religious grounds in the city. That's where the city gets its name. Lichfield somewhat translates to ‘the field of the dead’.

The lychgate and wedding traditions

With such connotations, it was unthinkable for a bride to pass through the church lychgate, as it signalled bad fortune. Some churches would in fact have two separate gates, the lychgate and the bridal gate.

Here’s the good news. We’re talking about a long time ago. Such tradition is resigned to the history books, and nowadays a lychgate is the centrepiece of the churchyard, welcoming newlyweds and churchgoers alike. So much so, those charming lychgates play a pivotal role in wedding ceremonies and you’ll often see them adorned with floral decorations.

Whether it's a spot to throw confetti, or a gorgeous backdrop to snap wedding photographs, today we accept lychgates at their most charming face value.

Not just for churches anymore

Lychgates are going through a renaissance and rightly so. After all, they're stunning structures. Beyond timeless good looks, as they are much larger than an ordinary gate, they can provide a practical focal point in many scenarios. So where has our newfound love of lychgates taken the historic timber structures?

Public gardens

Lychgates are becoming a popular instalment in public gardens. As visitors flock to enjoy a stress relieving walk, an eye-catching lychgate is an embracing feature to welcome guests. By setting the tone with a lychgate, owners of public gardens can make their garden stand out from the crowd.

What’s more, lychgates are common along walking paths. They stand as landmarks and a meeting point while also adding shelter to walkers along the route. Lychgates are often used as a means for direction along official National Trust walks.

Private Gardens

Of course, if a public garden can boast stunning lychgates, then why shouldn't your personal garden? Wooden lychgates are a classic and dramatic garden ornament. They signify a transition to calmness as you, your family and friends enter the tranquillity of your garden.

But they can be a practical feature too. You can erect them as an entrance or exit to gardens or paths. Let’s not forget they provide important security by blocking unauthorised access. Slotted into a wall or hedgerow, they keep unwanted animals out, or wanted animals in for that matter!

Driveways

A lychgate at the end of a drive makes pulling up to your house extra special. It's a warm welcome home and a grand entrance for friends and family. As they say... First impressions count.

Lychgates are a common feature at the driveway entrance of large country houses and estates. But you needn't own a manor to get an extravagant entrance. Both small lychgates or large have the same touch of class as you pull onto the driveway.

Wedding venues

While a church wedding is a fairytale for some, others prefer the more contemporary wedding venue. To add an air of tradition, we're seeing more and more wedding venues feature lychgates.

It's the ideal compromise for venues and newlyweds alike. On one hand, they get the modern wedding at a contemporary venue. On the other hand, a lychgate adds culture and sophistication to the venue's garden space.

Variations of the lychgate

Designed by one of our customers, here is a fantastic photo of an Oak Timber Structures lychgate, adding majesty to the entrance to their home.

Here at Oak Timber Structures, we make every one of our solid oak lychgates bespoke. So it's easy to get one right for you and your requirements. Yet, the sheer amount of variations of a lychgate may come as a surprise. They are much more than just a gate.

Perhaps the most important variation is the size. You can alter width, length, depth and height. Even to the finest detail of roof pitch. By altering the size with precise 0.1m intervals, we can create a lychgate to fit in between existing walls, hedgerows or pathways.

There are different styles, so you can decide whether you want a two-post or four-post lychgate. As a general rule, four-posts on a wall will help you reach wider spans. You can also choose to have them sat on a dwarf wall or directly into the ground.

Truth is, because we make everything bespoke, we can make you any lychgate you want. Head over to our Oak Lychgate page and use the 3D designer to create yours. Anything outside the capabilities of the designer, give us a call on 01889 597283 and we'll help you turn your vision into a reality.

What is a lychgate made from?

The frame of a lychgate is wooden. Here at Oak Timber Structures, we're oak enthusiasts. Every lychgate we make will have a solid oak frame. Not any old oak, though. We only use QPA and QP1 quality oak beams. What's this mean? Simply put, it's the highest grade of construction oak available and what's more, we source our oak from sustainable European forests.

So why's oak the best material for a lychgate? It has the key qualities, durability, weather resistance, and natural good looks. Want to know more about why oak is a leading timber for garden structures. Then read this article to learn more.

So are lychgates just for churches?

Absolutely not! There’s no denying that we associate lychgates with churches, but their uses and beauty now go beyond the churchyard. With superstitions firmly in the past, lychgates are here to stay.

While a lychgate is a traditional structure, they can compliment both contemporary and classic spaces alike. Such versatility means lychgates are no longer a feature for churches alone.

While we’ve outlined some of the popular places that lychgates are popping up, that's just the beginning. In fact, they can make a lasting impression in any entrance. So whether it be a driveway, a garden, a park, or something else you had in mind, a well-made solid oak lychgate is the awe-inspiring classic structure to welcome guests into a public or private space.