Post Boxes

An article by English Heritage about the familiar British post boxes that we take for granted in our streets nudged me into writing about the unusual one located in Haslemere, Surrey. Sadly it is only a replica of the famous Penfold hexagonal design which dates from 1866. The box was hexagonal in shape with the top decorated by acanthus leaves and balls and painted green.

The box again achieved a degree of modest fame in the cartoon series danger mouse. Danger mouse’s sidekick was named Penfold after JW Penfold since the duo’s secret hideout was in a postbox in Baker Street. Unfortunately the hide out was not a genuine Penfold postbox! Source: The Haslemere Society

Olympic gold medal winner Helen Glover, whose Cornish home town is Penzance, had a Royal Mail box painted gold in honour of her winning performance in the rowing pairs.

And of course there are many different types of the red painted boxes all over our towns and cities – originally green to blend in with the landscape they were repainted in the famous ‘pillar box red’ by 1884 to increase visibility.

enamel-fronted boxes were inserted into the walls of Post Offices.

There are over 800 different types of post boxes. Perhaps you have an unusual one to share? If you do then please post it and link to this one in the comments or via a pingback.

This could become yet another obsession o_O

And if you want to read more fascinating facts about post boxes then please click on the EH link above.

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Published by

Heyjude

I now live in the UK, but spent several years travelling and then living in South Africa. I now look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

66 thoughts on “Post Boxes”

  1. Charming and artistic – even functional objects have allure. I’ve been collecting photos of unusual mailboxes (when I’m brave enough to do so on private property) but am not (yet) happy with them. Need early am lighting and can’t kick myself out of bed 😀

    1. Gosh this could be another challenge. It would be interesting to see what the mail boxes look like in other countries. You could kickstart this with a gallery of some of yours 🙂

  2. I should show these to my children and tell them that they are what people used for communication when I was young. I’m sure they’d ask me where the keyboard is and what part of the box is the screen.

    1. Don’t your children write letters then? I still send my grandchildren birthday cards and postcards from my holidays – they love getting “real” mail 🙂

      1. The last letter I remember either of them writing was one to Santa, and even that was just dictated, with me taking down the details.

        They do get birthday cards from their grandparents and uncle, though, and I must admit this is something they enjoy. Even here, though, their lack of practice is evident. The envelope after they’ve opened it usually looks like it has exploded.

        1. Do they have green ones in Ireland? I can;t remember, but I have only spent a few days there so probably didn’t focus much on post boxes. I have a vague idea that somewhere they have blue ones.

  3. I like to try to find the older ones by looking at who was King or Queen from the cipher on the front. Not many around this area though, unfortunately. This could take over from ‘Benches’, Jude!
    Regards as always, Pete. x

  4. I love postboxes, missed them when I lived in CA 🙂 There ‘s a gold one in nearby Sherborne in honour of local boy Peter Wilson who won a shooting gold medal at the olympics.

      1. Just the PO Boxes and blue mail boxes in the street, but I should have clarified that I meant the British red post boxes, especially the old ones in walls and the old style such as in your photo. Blue mail boxes just didn’t seem the same somehow 😉

      2. Yikes…you will think I’ve lost the plot Jude, can you ignore my last comment, ha! I thought I was taking about benches, as I wrote it via the notification bar! Then I realised. Right, as I was saying…and yes, still I will have to have a rummage, sure I must have one somewhere as an accidental photo though. What I was fascinated with were the metal mailboxes perched on wooden posts at the end of people’s drives. No letter boxes in the front doors there!

  5. An interesting post, provoking many thoughts. What a special pleasure to poke a handwritten missive into one of these beauties – if we still crafted handwritten missives! I have a booklet of 20 stamps that’s been hanging around for a year, still unused. Trust you to name the decorative leaves. I hope this theme does become an obsession – plenty of scope with 800 different kinds.

    In a bit of synchronicity, I’ve been collecting photos of private letter boxes since my postcrossing days, the ones letters arrive into.

    1. I have a few letterboxes mainly due to my door obsession and I had the delight of a letter from a granddaughter last week. She and her sister still create birthday cards for me and the OH. It is nice to receive a proper letter amongst all the bills and junk mail!

  6. I enjoy seeing Andy Murray’s gold post box in Dunblane. Unfortunately it’s quite a modern box though, the kind without a proper top, and not very attractive apart from the colour.

  7. I just love things like this. There’s a world of interest out there in the littlest things. No great mailboxes from me, sadly, as the night time activity of local hooligans is bashing them in with baseball bats as they drive down the road. I’d like to see them try it with one of your Penfolds, I have a feeling the box would outdo the bat.

  8. Jude I am afraid we in Canada, at least in Calgary, are dreadfully boring about such things as post boxes. Truth be told we are about to lose our house delivery and will be going to group mail boxes. These are even more dreadfully boring than the current black and brown variety.

  9. I followed your link and read this: “It took Anthony Trollope (the Victorian author, then a General Post Office official) to notice that in Europe, locked cast-iron pillar boxes were placed in convenient locations with regular collection times. Trollope first introduced this efficient scheme to the Channel Islands in 1852.”

    That struck me as a literary and historical coincidence because in that same year of 1852 Victor Hugo went into exile on the island of Jersey.

  10. What have you started now? The sooner you go pet sitting… Actually, I believe I have a yellow one, taken when Adam was a lad, in Majorca! Now, where to look? 🙂

    But I do love that green one!

  11. They are beautiful! I could see that they would become a new obsession for me if I lived in the UK, but our mailboxes are completely unremarkable. In fact, it is getting harder and harder to find a mailbox now.
    Please don’t tell me that these beautiful old mailboxes will ever be at risk of being “downsized”.

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