Plaster Moulding Corbels for Victorian Hallways

Blog |June 17th, 2019

There is an undeniable charm to Victoriana that still holds people spellbound to this very day. This type of architecture is highly sought-after, and plaster reproductions, restorations, and Victoriana-themed aesthetics abound everywhere. One of the most well-known features architecture is the usage of plaster moulding corbels in Victorian hallways.

While this practice dates back to ancient times, with examples that can be found all over the world, it is most well-known at least in modern times for featuring strongly in Victorian architecture.

What are Corbels?

Corbels are supplementary structural additions made of stone, wood, metal, or plaster that jut out of a wall. They were originally intended to carry superincumbent weight and to provide additional bolstering to prevent parapets, balconies and other overhanging structures from collapsing. It also helped to reinforce the overall structure and create even weight distribution of weight for added safety.

The name ‘corbel’ derives from the Latin corbellus, which is the diminutive of another Latin word – corvus – which meant ‘raven’. This was due to the distinctive beak-liked appearance of older corbels. This aesthetic feature eventually changed though, and corbels began to feature more ornate designs, often Corinthian in appearance.

Eventually, corbels lost their functional purpose and were relegated to the mere decorative role, especially indoors.

Benefits of Plaster Corbels

Eventually, corbels stopped being made from durable and dense materials like stone or metal, and began to be made from soft wood or plaster. These were affixed to hallways and acted as mouldings more than practical supports for an overhanging structure. Nevertheless, some plaster corbels were reinforced, often being made of carved hardwood which was later coated with a thick layer of plaster of Paris and then tooled or moulded with the desired aesthetic look.

Plaster corbels, though employed predominantly for aesthetic purposes, offered the following benefits:

• Provided minor support for overhanging light fixtures or corner mouldings – in spite of their now lighter weight and less hardy nature, some plaster corbels still functioned like outdoor ones in that they supported light fixtures or complimentary carvings.

• Creates the illusion of space – corbels also functioned as something of a ‘trick’ to convince the eye that the ceiling of a hallway was taller or wider than it appeared. This wasn’t always properly accomplished though, resulting in the stuffy sort of feeling that is common to a number of Victorian hallways.

• A mark of status – only the richest could afford custom-moulded or carved indoor corbels, and thus they became something of a status symbol. Today, many plaster corbels are made from pre-moulded material that is not only cheap, but also easily installed even by DIY enthusiasts.

If you are looking for an excellent resource for affordable and high-quality plasterwork for interior and exterior applications, visit us here at Hopkins Plaster Studio. We specialise in manufacturing all types of classical and ornamental plaster products, such as corbels, columns, arches, ceiling roses, domes, Adam panels, vaulted ceilings, and art décor panels, just to mention a few.

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