During tours of the main house, visitors regularly ask, “What are those metal bars in the steps?”
The cramps, made of iron and shaped like staples, were used to join the stones together in the construction of the staircases at Drayton Hall.
The renowned architectural historian Carl Lounsbury defined cramps in An Illustrated Glossary of Early Southern Architecture and Landscape as: “iron staple[s] used to hold two adjoining pieces of masonry together to prevent them from slipping. An iron bar with its two ends turned at right angles, a cramp is generally set in a bed of mortar or lead into holes cut into the stone. They are used in stone cornices, chimney pieces, wall coping, and steps.”
While some of the cramps were possibly replaced and certainly reinstalled by preservationists, cramps were used in the original construction of Drayton Hall’s masonry staircases.
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