Friday, November 4, 2016
Post boxes: readers who return often to this blog might have noticed that I have bit of a thing about them – I must have done at least half a dozen posts about post boxes over the years. Although they’re not strictly buildings, they’re built structures, and some were designed by architects. And the people who decide which buildings should be listed don’t have any problems with including them: there are quite a few listed boxes.
A number of these are Penfolds, the lovely Victorian hexagonal boxes that celebrate their 150th birthday this year. They’re named for their designer, architect John Wornham Penfold,* and they are rather architectural in character, with the acanthus leaves around the top. They were made between 1866 and 1879 before being superseded by cylindrical boxes that were less costly to manufacture.
Original 1866 Penfolds are quite rare. There are 20 of them in use on Britain’s streets, including a fair number in London and no fewer than 8 in Cheltenham†. So as I live near Cheltenham, it’s a local Penfold I’ve chosen to share with you. It’s rather special in that it still has the original white enamel flap over the slot, chipped and spattered with red paint, but still hanging there, helping to keep out driving rain and autumn leaves.
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* Penfold was a distinguished member of his profession. He became President of the Architectural Association and a Fellow of the RIBA. There’s more about him and his post boxes here. I'm also indebted to an article in NADFAS Review, Autumn 2016, for reminding me about this anniversary.
† The total number of Penfolds in use, both 1866 examples and later ones, is about 70.