Graphical Construction Glossary >> stairs. >> general >> Newel Posts

Newel Posts
Posts that carry the handrails in a flight of stairs.
Newel Cap
An ornamented feature to the top of a newel-post.
Newel Drop
An ornamented bottom of a newel-post seen below the soffit.

newel post.

The function of a newel-post is to provide a strong support from the main body of a stair flight to the handrail. This one obviously does that. This type is known as a box newel in that it is built up out of separate members and as such they can be made quite massively to create an imposing effect at the beginning of a staircase.

Another sub class is called a Turned Newel which is another timber newel that has been wholly or partly turned on a lathe. They are mostly in smaller sizes and popular in residential stairs.

Another built up newel, this time out of separate members. Another device to make the bottom of the stairway imposing.

newel drops

An example of Newel Drops plainly seen underneath the paneled soffit of a fine stair. There is no doubt as to the solidity of this particular staircase.

a carved newel cap

An exceptionally well crafted medieval stair seen in a church in Brussels. Note the carved lions for the Newel Caps.

modern newel, galv steel

And now for something different. A "T" shaped galvanised steel external newel post. Cheap and functional. It's a pity that the person responsible for the lump of timber (I am reluctant to call it a handrail) didn't have anything but making money as his raison d'etre.

medieval wrought ironwork

At first glance a clumsy looking effort. The bases of the newels break a basic rule of stair design that the walking space should be unobstructed. But still, the effortless ease and flair of the medieval craftsman who shaped the ends of the handrails is still apparent after hundreds of years. Seen in Bruges, Belgium.

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