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The history of themed door knockers

Fashions in door hardware come and go, but some trends stand the test of time. The themed door knocker is one of those pieces that’s survived for centuries, which begs the question: why has this simple accessory remained so popular over the years? Let’s take a look at the history of themed door knockers


It’s impossible to say when door knockers originated. This is because it was probably before the start of recorded history. Some say that the first door knockers came from Ancient Greece. Apparently, centuries ago, some wealthy homeowners would chain slaves to their front doors to greet guests. Supposedly, when the chains were removed, the door fastenings remained in place. As the story goes, these then became the first door knockers.

Spirituality and superstition

It’s thought that door knockers were first used for aesthetic purposes during the Middle Ages. Evidently, there was a strong link between their design and ideas around spirituality and superstition. Interestingly, various cultures throughout history have viewed the role of the door knocker differently. A door is a threshold between the home and the outside world, prompting some cultures to see door knockers as a symbol of protection.

Western cultures are said to have used gargoyle themed door knockers to ward off evil. It’s said that a similar idea existed in Ancient Greece, in the form of grotesque statues positioned outside the home. In other cultures, the door knocker has been seen quite differently. The Ancient Chinese for example, are thought to have used dragon themed door knockers as a symbol of strength.

A decorative statement

Over the centuries, door knockers have always had an aesthetic appeal. More decorative pieces have been viewed as a sign of wealth, stature and style. Often, door knockers will take the shape of a beautiful woman’s face – a great way to welcome guests to your home!

Decorative door knockers have even made their way into our popular culture. In Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’, Scrooge sees the face of the deceased Jacob Marley in his door knocker. Even without ghostly apparitions, most ornate door knockers create a strong first impression on visitors!

The lion has long been seen as a symbol of power, pride, and strength for many cultures. He is, after all, the ‘king’ of the jungle. This symbolism can be seen all over the UK. Four bronze lions, for example, surround Nelson’s Column in London’s Trafalgar Square. There are also three lions on the England football kit. The ‘lion’s head’ door knocker was very popular in Georgian and Victorian architecture. In fact, they can still be seen on the doors of period houses today. Notably, a lion’s head door knocker sits on the door of London’s 10 Downing Street.


Electric doorbells have been commonly used since the early 1900s, yet door knockers have not been phased out. In fact, many homes today feature both a doorbell and a door knocker. This could be due, in part, to the decoration they provide. Interestingly, developments in metal moulding now allow for more unique door knockers to be made. However, a lot of people still opt for traditional themes and designs.

[Photo by 771141]