TINTAGEL - KING ARTHUR COUNTRY
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CELEBRATION OF THE NATIONAL TRUST'S 100 YEARS OF OWNERSHIP OF THE OLD POST
Of The Old Post Office & Details Of Centenary Celebrations
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, shortly afterwards, the fabric of the building was repaired by the leading Arts and Crafts 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.
THE OLD POST OFFICE TODAY
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.
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 Ė not to mention the many thousands of visitors who walk past it on their way to see the ruins of Tintagel Castle.
Tintagel Old Post Office National Trust Centenary Notes
The first countryside area acquired by the National Trust was Barras Nose, Tintagel in 1895 and the first building acquired was Alfriston Clergy House in 1896. In 1900 Long Crendon Court House was acquired, then Kymin in 1902. The fifth acquisition was The Old Post Office, Tintagel in 1903.
The Old Post Office was in a very dilapidated state and put up for auction by the owner in about 1892, which meant the post office had to move to a new building opposite.
Miss Catherine Johns, a local artist and her friends raised the funds to purchase the building to prevent the loss of this important medieval building.
The National Trust purchased the building for the sum of £200 from Miss Catherine Johns, an artist in Tintagel, who saved it from dereliction and redevelopment by raising the necessary funds selling pictures by her and her artist friends.
Miss Catherine Johns referred to the property as "The Old Cottage, Trevena"
On 26 July, the NT leased the building for life to Catherine Johns.
The tithe rent charge on the property due to the Vicar of Tintagel was 9s 2d.
Catherine Johns paid a nominal rent to the NT of five shillings for her life interest and it was open to visitors during the summer at a charge of 2d per person.
Miss Johns had the end building which was the stable/coach house transformed into a room that she then gifted to the Womenís Institute of Trevena for their meetings.
Mr Blewett of Trewarmett carried out repairs to the roof of repointing some slates in October 1923 at a cost of £2:10:0.
In March Mr Blewett gave another estimate this time for repointing all the roof on both sides, the chimneys and the front of the post office room and installing and painting a new timber lintel in the front porch, then whitewashing the internal walls for a cost of £15:0:0.
Messrs Dangar & Sons were paid the sum of £18:10:0 for stone masonry and carpentry work at the Old Post Office in October.
In November, Mayor Sturge of Tintagel presented an engraving of The Old Post Office at Tintagel as a memento of one of the buildings saved for the nation.
Miss Johns died in March 1925 the property reverted to the Trustís ownership. Mrs Worley, was Miss Johns' niece and executor. The property did not have any furniture in it when it reverted to the Trust and little is known about the whole history of the building.
Mrs Pullen was appointed the caretaker of the property and authorised by the Trust to charge an admission of 2d per visitor. She was also allowed to sell postcards, chocolates and mineral waters. Mrs Pullen kept the admission monies and paid the NT rent of £10 per year, which was reduced to £5 per annum during the war 1939-1945.
Membership cards were issued to members of the NT. Membership cost £1 per person and allowed free admission to NT properties. Mrs Pullen had to inform the NT at the end of each quarter the number of member visitors.
The NT agreed that Mrs Pullen could charge a fee of 2s: 6d to anyone wishing to sketch the interior of the property.
Cleaning the woodwork of limewash, re limewashing the scullery and pantry and cleaning and repairing the defective plasterwork on the underside of the roof slates cost £7: 10: 0. Fixing roof ties to the parlour beams to support the bulging rear wall cost a further £9: 0: 0.
Claude M Miller from Leicestershire wrote on 26 September asking for literature on the Old Post Office. He said he father was born and spent his young days at the property before it became the Post Office. He mentions that it was used as a farmhouse in conjunction with some land on the cliffs during his fatherís time.
The Old School House Tintagel is referred to in correspondence as a 12th century building and not 14th century like the Old Post Office. Mrs Pullen the caretaker of the OPO lived at the Old School House.
During September correspondence in the archive files notes that lots of people have been scribbling their names on the walls of the Old Post Office. Mr Foster of Camelford, the Trustís solicitor wrote to all those with a legible name and address asking for 5s as a contribution towards making good the damage and overlooking the defacement which was a criminal offence under the meaning of the Malicious Damage Act of 1861. Correspondence in 1949 notes that the walls still had not been cleaned up and although lots of people paid their 5s "fines" there were lots who wrote with excuses as to why they shouldnít! Mostly it was felt that as there were thousands of names on the walls it was unfair for a few to be fined!
The NT agreed to raise the admission charge to 6d per person. The war was over and more visitors were holidaying in the area.
Mr William Mutton of Trenale took over as caretaker in July as Mrs Pullen decided to retire. He was paid £3 per week.
In August, Mr Mutton had sold 2,600 adult admission tickets! The place was still unfurnished and it was decided that at least the hall should have some furniture and the Trust set about acquiring suitable pieces.
During May, Metro Goldwyn Mayer filmed The Knights of the Round Table on National Trust property near Tintagel.
Mr Fry of Fryís Hotel in the village wrote to the National Trust asking permission to sell teas and refreshments at the Old Post Office. The local NT Committee turned him down as it was felt that visitors would not wish to pay an admission fee and then feel obliged to have to pay for refreshments.
During August, Mr J E Medlycott of Milborne Port, Dorset offered a watercolour painting of the Old Post Office to us.
According to archive records the OPO had 20,000 visitors in the 1961 season.
It is also noted that 2,000 visitors came on one day Ė 7 August 1962, however this could be a misprint!
Mr Cann is the caretaker.
Mr C H Cheeseman of Sanderstead, Surrey who also donated clocks to Lanhydrock House and Cotehele, donated the Mural Clock in the Hall.
Rawnsleys A Nationís Heritage (Allen & Unwin 1920) last chapter and appendix has info on OPO
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Copyright© David Flower