Stapehill Abbey

Bespoke staircase designed for partially-sighted new home buyer

Stairways Midlands, a leading manufacturer of staircases and doors for the building sector, has gone above and beyond to create a bespoke staircase to meet the needs of a partially-sighted purchaser.

Stairways worked with developers Ankers and Rawlings at Stapehill Abbey, Wimborne, Dorset, a unique development of fifty-two two-to-five-bedroom properties within the 19th century Stapehill Abbey and its grounds.

The team has been contracted to provide a range of staircases for 23 plots, providing some 40 in total, worth upwards of £200k. Working closely with the developers they are designing feature staircases as unique as each one-off property, with every plot presenting its own set of challenges requiring different specifications and solutions. 

But Stairways has gone even further, working directly with the purchasers on the design of the staircase for their four-bedroom £1m+ home.

Mr and Mrs B, needed a staircase to suit the additional needs of Mrs B, who is partially-sighted, requesting something safe for her to navigate – but something beautiful and striking, to meet the high-end aesthetic of their new home.

Stairways provided samples to allow the couple to understand the different options. Mrs B was able to feel the handrails, the top newel, the width of the steps. Options without sharp edges or points were chosen to limit the potential for injury. Stairways was also able to incorporate wider steps into the design to make them easier to navigate, position the newels to assist guidance and add lighting to the staircase design too.

Karen Wood, joint managing director at Stairways Midlands, said:

“We are called upon to create staircases to meet every kind of design specification, but this is the first time we have been invited by a developer to work with their clients directly to meet the very specific needs of the end user.

“It was a close collaboration between ourselves, the couple purchasing the new home, and the developers – together we delivered a beautiful Staircase, on budget, which fully met their needs.”

Mr B added:

“My wife has very limited vision so the staircase at our new home had to meet some specific requirements, to make it as safe as possible for her to use, but we also wanted it to be a wonderful piece of furniture.

“Karen willingly met us on site as she felt that was the best way to properly understand our needs. A very positive start.

“At all our meetings Karen listened carefully rather than imposing her thoughts. Once she was sure she understood our needs she offered some helpful suggestions to make the staircase even safer for my wife to use.

“During the design process she kept me well informed and was very willing to consider changes I suggested. The end result is a wonderful staircase which my wife feels safe to use, and it looks amazing.

Stapehill Abbey, was the home of the Holy Cross Abbey order of Cistercian Trappist nuns from 1802 to 1991, before operating as a tourist attraction, craft centre and rural life museum until 2008. Planning permission for the conversion was granted in 2014, with the backing of English Heritage. Local developers Ankers and Rawlings acquired the site in 2015 and began work the following year.

Along with the conversion of the early 19th century Stapehill Abbey and associated historic buildings the project includes the development of 27 new homes.

Stairways Midlands, a leading designer and supplier of high-value, high-quality engineered staircases, doors, and bespoke joinery for national and regional housebuilders, building contractors, architects, designers, and installers across the UK, came on board early last year during phase two of the development. The final phase is due for completion later this year. 

Experts in the field for more than three decades, Stairways has been involved from design, to surveying and measuring on site, to support with installation. 

Adds Karen Wood:

“We have gone above and beyond on this project and we are proud of what we have helped achieve here – the finished results speak for themselves.” 

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As a highly reputable firm within the industry, Stairways are dedicated to meeting their client’s product and application requirements. All materials used are manufactured to the highest quality and meet the relevant standards achieving ISO9001, FSC®, and various product certifications, whilst their staircases and door solutions are manufactured with compliance to UK building regulations & legislative standards in mind. Using the knowledge, passion, and experience acquired across all team members over the past thirty years, Stairways aim to continue to be the best in what they do.


Stairways are continuously looking for opportunities to improve and expand their service offering; this includes the investment in new machinery to further enhance and innovate the manufacturing process, with the aim to shorten lead times and increase overall in-house capacity. The changes Stairways employ are always focused upon improving the customer experience, to ensure their process remains as efficient as possible from start to finish.


Privately owned and managed since it was founded in 1989, Stairways has grown to become one of the UK’s largest manufacturers of carpentry and joinery products. Starting as a small staircase manufacturer, Stairways now boast three state-of-art facilities that offer over 85,000 sq ft of bespoke and mass production capacity.