1 the post at the top or bottom of a flight of stairs; it supports the handrail [syn: newel post]
2 the central pillar of a circular staircase
A newel is the upright post about which the steps of a circular staircase wind. It is sometimes called a solid newel in distinction from a hollow newel, which is really no newel at all, with the stairs being supported at the walls.
In stairs having straight flights, it is the principal post at the foot of a staircase or the intermediate posts in the center, but never the ones at the landings.
In historic homes, the house plans were placed in the newel upon completion of the house before the newel was capped.