Making the Stone Flow Through Tregavethan Manor in Cornwall

Making the Stone Flow Through Tregavethan Manor in Cornwall

Adam Architecture and Ian Knapper’s expert team, design and build a stunning sweeping staircase to complement the ten thousand square feet restored Tregavethan Manor in Truro, Cornwall.

Adam Architecture, who designed Tregavethan Manor, specified a staircase that flowed through the building, sweeping the eye up two flights. It needed to complement the contours of the new build, and yet be honest to the building’s English country house design.

Tregavethan Manor’s hall needed to make a statement – and solid stone was chosen to create a centrepiece that exuded timeless quality from top to bottom.

Making the Stone Flow Through Tregavethan Manor in Cornwall 4The vision
The overall vision for the project was to continue the classic county house design with a real WOW factor. The project was led by the team at Adam Architecture, who created the initial vision for the project.

The key design feature central to the project included a solid stone staircase created by craftsmen at Ian Knapper. This staircase was to sweep around the stairwell, seemingly cantilevered from the wall to create an illusion of it defying gravity as you entered the double-height space.

The two flights were joined by huge solid stone, self-supporting gallery landings adding further presence to the space, with curved treads and gallery ends softening the overall design concept.

The important thing about this project was to keep the classic design whilst making the staircase flow up through the building, and work with the angles and shapes created by the rest of the space.” – Ian Knapper.

A design set-in-stone
As the concept was for Tregavethan Manor to be a traditional English country house, it was decided early on that the stone to be used should also be a traditional English building stone. Therefore, the staircase and landings were carved from Portland Base-bed Limestone, which would tie the whole space together.

The stone was the perfect choice not only for its provenance but also for its premium qualities, delivering a fine grain and properties make it ideal for consistency and the crisp stonework required for the project, although it proved tricky to secure the material needed for the huge solid landings.

Tregavethan Manor balustrade and handrail

Bringing visions together from start to finish
The team at Ian Knapper brought together the initial vision of the architect, with a few additional elements of design from the client, such as the softening of the corners, to create the final piece which exceeded everyone’s expectations.

With the stair designs for Tregavethan Manor complete, Ian and his team also worked with their partners to create the balustrade and handrail, overseeing every aspect of the project from start to finish.

“Once the plans had been agreed, one of the most challenging aspects of the project was obtaining pieces of Portland stone large enough to create the huge landings.” – Ian Knapper.

Tregavethan Manor stone staircase

The result
From the original vision from Adam Architecture, the project was developed further by the client, and delivered by the team at Ian Knapper. The end project delivered a beautiful sweeping staircase that included traditional details on the stair nosing.

The underside was kept to a classic sweeping finish allowing an appreciation of the scale of the stair; the detail of the stone and bringing simplicity to the design from floor level as the sweeping staircase rose through the building.

The finished design also included low-level lighting up the stairs to set the whole structure in the best possible light.

Ultimately, design is about realising a vision for a client and creating a space that moves people, and the owners of Tregavethan Manor were delighted with the result.

Ian Knapper stone staircase Tregavethan Manor Cornwall

The Tregavethan Manor staircase project;

  • required an estimated 650-man hours to complete
  • it took five months to manufacture and install from the point at which stonework commenced
  • used approximately 12 tonnes of stone
  • used Portland Limestone and included 38 traditional carved treads and one 6-metre-long gallery landing

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For more information
Specialising in quality bespoke masonry from staircases and fireplaces to commissioned pieces, Ian Knapper’s team include national and international award-winning masons who have built a reputation for delivering the best. For more information visit

Read more design-related articles in our dedicated section here.

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