"Tintagel's old post office" Top 5 Page for this destination Cornwall Favorite Tip by iandsmith

Cornwall General: 79 reviews and 110 photos

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by iandsmith

Favorite thing: This delightful building, whose roof line seems to echo the rise and fall of the swells nearby, is on the western side of the main street.
Originally built as a small manor house in the 14th century, the building is a rare example of this type of early domestic dwelling. Its life as a post office began in the 19th century. By 1844 the village and surrounding parish were generating 125 letters per week, and so the General Post Office decided to establish a Letter Receiving Office for the district. A room was rented from the owner of the old manor house and a Letter Receiving Office set up. From the 1870s it was run by William Cobbledick Balkwill, who doubled as the local draper and grocer.
In the late 19th century, tourism reached Tintagel ? primarily due to the Arthurian poems written by Tennyson, who had visited Tintagel in 1848. Many of the village's old buildings were torn down, to be replaced by tacky guest houses, shops and hotels.
In 1892 the owner of the Old Post Office decided to sell it for redevelopment, and the General Post Office moved its business across the street. By 1895 the building had become virtually derelict and was put up for auction. However, a group of local artists who had become concerned at the threat to the Old Post Office, decided to act. One of them, Catherine Johns, bought the building for 300 on the understanding that means would be found to preserve it. This was achieved through sales of prints after pictures of several well-known artists in 1896, and the fabric of the building was repaired by the leading architect, Detmar Blow, according to the strict principles laid down by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.
In 1900 the National Trust agreed to buy the building from Miss Johns for a nominal 200, raised by public appeal. The purchase was subject to a lease to Miss Johns for her lifetime and the building was finally vested in the Trust in 1903.

Fondest memory: The building is typical of many late medieval manor houses with a central single-storey hall open to the roof, flanked by smaller service rooms and a kitchen (now the parlour) with bedrooms above.
When acquired, the Old Post Office was bereft of contents, apart from a late medieval kitchen table situated in the Hall. The rooms were subsequently furnished with items from farmhouses and cottages in the vicinity. One of the rooms remains as a Victorian village post office. Outside on the wall is an example of the first standard wall letter box of 1857. Only 14 such boxes remain in existence, mostly in the south and west of England. This particular box is characterised by having no hood over the aperture and its door sited in the middle.
The Old Post Office is also home to a unique collection of historic needlework samplers dating from the mid-17th century. The Old Post Office has been at the centre of life in Tintagel for many hundreds of years. It has provided an essential service to the local community during its life as a post office, and now this small but unique building welcomes over 45,000 visitors each year; not to mention the many hundreds of thousands of visitors who walk past it on their way to see the ruins of Tintagel Castle.
It costs just 2 pounds to visit, or did when I was there.

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Dec 9, 2005
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