Definition of Corbel within Pub Architecture.


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Derived from the Latin word corvus, Corbels come in many shapes and sizes and can be functional or decorative. These days decorative corbels can be made with materials such as polyurethane rather than stone.

Load-Bearing Corbel

In most cases it is not possible to see the entire block of stone used within the wall of a structure. In this diagram the rear third of the corbel would be embedded within the wall so that the projecting element can support the weight above. This example is a basic or unadorned corbel. If the budget allows, a more decorative corbel can be deployed. Some are particularly ostentatious.

Examples of Corbels

Corbels at the Philharmonic Hotel at Liverpool [2013]

Here one can see four corbels, part of a set providing the support for the balustrade on the Philharmonic Hotel at Liverpool. These are acting as a support for the weight above in that they are jutting from the wall to carry the superincumbent weight. These are quite chunky corbels. Smaller examples could be used to support a shelf, projecting window or roof overhang.

Corbel used in the Cornice to support Roof Overhang

Acting as support for the projecting roof, this type of corbel is widespread in the UK. Each individual corbel offers a small amount of support, but combined with a whole row, can accommodate the weight of the projection. Used in this way, they add an attractive element to the cornice. This example is the Wellington on Bennett's Hill in Birmingham.

Corbel supporting an Oriel Window

This type of corbel is doing a lot of work as it is supporting a large oriel window at the Old Royal in Birmingham. Indeed, this is the base of two windows on two floors, all part of a tourelle, so one can imagine how much stress this corbel is experiencing. I suspect that steel has been used behind the stonework to assist with load-bearing.

More Examples of Pediments

Corbel supporting Projecting Arch Decoration

This type of corbel is helping to support the weight of a projecting arch of terracotta decoration on the Three Crowns at Hill Top. Mass production of terracotta in the late 19th century allowed for machined decoration at a fraction of the cost of the stonemason.

Click here for more information on the Waggon and Horses at Halesowen in Worcestershire

This stone corbel was deployed at the Waggon and Horses at Halesowen and, although the corbel is supporting the weight of the brickwork above, it was partially to add a little character to a regular rectangular brick building. However, compare this to the diagram above and one will appreciated the size of the block, much of which cannot be seen.

Name of tavern used within a corbel

This is a particularly attractive corbel that incorporates the name of the tavern, the Malt Shovel at Small Heath. The stepped stone that is doing the hard work of supporting the brickwork above can be seen behind the decoration.

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