Of all the materials we supply, Portland Stone must be the most famous. We look at what makes it so special.

"UK-2014-London-The Cenotaph" by Godot13 - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:UK-2014-London-The_Cenotaph.jpg#/media/File:UK-2014-London-The_Cenotaph.jpg

Portland Stone has a moment in the limelight every November, when wreaths are laid at the Cenotaph (pictured above) in Whitehall on Remembrance Sunday. It was an ideal choice for the monument. It offers crisp carving and a consistency of colour that complements the design's simplicity and supports its quiet dignity.

Not such a simple design

There's more to this seemingly simple design, though, than meets the eye. Architect Edwin Lutyens designed it with an entasis. This is a subtle curve on straight lines. In classical architecture it's used to counteract the impression you sometimes get that vertical lines are bending inwards.

Entasis can be virtually invisible to the eye. It certainly wouldn't be an easy element to apply with precision by hand.

Portland Stone for bespoke paving

How things have changed with stone masonry. We're not saying it would be a piece of cake to create such a subtle effect nowadays but, with a programmable CNC machine, placing a line absolutely precisely is certainly easier and faster.

Portland Stone takes to carving as easily as a drawing master sharpens his pencils. That's one of its joys and why it has been so popular for hundreds of years. It's a hard-wearing, long-lasting limestone which is, nevertheless, easy to work. Few stones speak of the distant past so beautifully.

Portland Curved Riser

Recently we put our own curves into Portland Stone paving with our first-ever bespoke curved Portland risers. As you can see, the consistency of colour and smooth texture make the shape and precision of the edges really stand out. They're almost sculptural. If you were standing right by them, I bet you'd reach out and run your fingers along the surface. I'll admit I couldn't resist it.

Portland Stone paving given a honed finish

Director Gavin Walley, who heads our Bespoke Stone Centre, says, “The thing I love about Portland is the way the character of the stone is revealed once the stone has been honed. We usually start honing with a 40 grit paper and work up to a 220 grit. By the time we've finished we can often see the fossils and shells that give a glimpse of the stone's history.”

Portland Stone is always worth considering for that really special feature or entrance. We have paving available in standard sizes from 600 x 300 mm to 900 x 600, as well as 600 mm x random sizing.

Such a remarkable stone, though, deserves the addition of bespoke elements, and with our state-of-the-art equipment we're ready to create exactly what you want, however subtle a touch it needs.

Post updated: October 2023