This site has limited support for your browser. We recommend switching to Edge, Chrome, Safari, or Firefox.

The Anatomy of a Victorian Marble Mantel

A typical Victorian mantel is usually composed of 8-12 individual parts, most of which are pairs since the two sides are symmetrical. While not all marble mantels have these parts intact, most of our selections are comprised of the anatomy listed below and considered complete for the Victorian style. View the glossary and rendering below to learn about each part and how they relate to one another during installation.

1. Shelf: Usually curved or "serpentine," the mantel shelf features a beveled or ogee edge profile.  It typically extends 3-5” on both the left and right side and protrudes about 5-8" from the mantel body.

2. Spandrels: Also considered the “legs” or the two pieces that when put together form the “arch” over the central, curved fireplace opening. Spandrels are usually carved with simple lines from slabs that are about 1 or 2” thick, but they can also be more elaborate.

3. Keystone: This decorative piece covers the otherwise visible seam between the two spandrels.  Keystones were hand carved in a variety of shapes and motifs, from a classic cartouche to more elaborate or individualized designs. They’re formed from solid block marble and usually the same marble type as the rest of the mantel.

4. Inner Arch: Also typically carved from the same type of marble to match the overall mantel, the inner arch serves as a transition piece from the mantel to which the cast iron surround is adhered. The inner arch protects the marble from soot and heat. It can be one unit or up to four individual pieces located behind the spandrels.

5. Returns: Side pieces that are normally 3-5” wide, side pieces offer structure and support to the mantel below the the shelf and attach to the spandrels at a 90° angle. They’re vertical pieces of marble tucked behind the spandrels and plinths.

6. Plinth: The pieces at the base of the spandrels, like the feet of the mantel or the bottom vertical foundations of each spandrel. Plinths are usually square or rectangular and slightly thicker than the spandrels.

7. Surround: The cast iron frame that holds the summer cover when in use.

8. Summer Cover: As the name implies, the summer cover is the decorative front panel that covers the fireplace opening, secured by the surround, when the fireplace is not in use.

9. Hearth Stone: Usually from a slab of granite or slate, the hearth stone is cut to fit the mantel and sits on the floor. It grounds the mantel, provides structural support, and protects the floor from damage by first absorbing heat from a lit fire.

Leave a comment


No more products available for purchase

Your Cart is Empty