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Annals of the Post Offices at Kingston Bagpuize.

Al Jefferies


My interest in Kingston Bagpuize arises from the fact that eleven of my direct line Jeffries and Belcher ancestors spent all or part of their lives in the village from about 1700 to about 1880. I am related in one way or another to all the members of the Jeffries family, and many of the Belchers, recorded in the Kingston Bagpuize parish records.

My interest in the history of the post office arises from the fact that my great great great aunt and her son ran it for many years up to about 1914.

In compiling this chronicle I have relied heavily on information obtained from Jill Muir, the Longworth and District History Society and Peter Keene’s book Kingston Bagpuize a Sense of Place. This information has been augmented by my own researches on the internet. My thanks, therefore, to all of those involved. I am hoping some time to visit the Post Office Museum and Archives in London, to see what else I can find. (A preliminary e-mail to them yielded some useful information.)

There is much that is hazy and unknown in the chronicle and I may well, of course, be wrong in my interpretation of the available information. Jill has also pointed out to me that the directories will have been compiled in the previous year to printing. This probably applies to maps as well.

I would be very pleased to hear from anybody who can provide information that would improve and throw new light on the chronology. My e-mail is – Al Jeffries London June 2007

A Chronicle of the Post Office

Village Postman by Carrick

Souce: via Wikimedia Commons : The Village Postman by Carrick

Pre 1844 The and Wikipedia web sites both have the following (obviously written by the same person) - The GPO created a network of post offices where senders could submit items. All post was transferred from the post office of origination to distribution points called sorting stations, and from there the post was then sent on for delivery to the receiver of the post. Initially it was the recipient of the post who paid the fee, and he had the right to refuse to accept the item if he did not wish to pay. The charge was based on the distance the item had been carried so the GPO had to keep a separate account for each item. In 1840 the Penny Post was introduced, which incorporated the two key innovations of a uniform postal rate, which cut administrative costs and encouraged use of the system, and adhesive pre-paid stamps.

1844According to the British Postal Museum and Archive there was a Post Office in Kingston Bagpuize by 1844. It came under the district of Abingdon. They also say that the “i” in Bagpuize was not introduced until 1932. However the spelling seems to be inconsistent, because the name is spelt with the "i" in at least two directories before this date - the 1848 and 1915 Kelly's Directory of Berkshire.

1847 The Post Office Directory shows that Mr George Shepherd, a baker, is living at the Post Office. He may, therefore, have been the village’s first postmaster/receiver.

1848 Kelly’s Berkshire Directory states that Alexander Murdoch was at the Post Office and he is described as the receiver. He is also shown to be the landlord at the Hind’s Head Inn. These details are given - Letters arrive from Abingdon at ½ past 8 am and despatched 5pm. The post office entry is separate from the entry for the Hind’s Head. It is not clear, therefore, whether the post office was a separate building.

The Directory also shows that a Mr George Shepherd was the Post Master at Abingdon and that foot messengers were despatched at 6 am from Abingdon for Kingston Bagpuize. The name is a coincidence; he is not the same person as the George Shepherd in Kingston Bagpuize.

1851 George Shepherd is listed in the Kingston Bagpuize census as a baker, but there is no mention of any postal duties. There are, however, two men described as ‘Postboy’. They are William Smith, aged 40, and William Walker, aged 60. It is not possible to get an idea from the census book of where in the village they lived, as very few places are named. There are no other entries relating to the post.

Draycott Moor, Longworth and Hinton Waldrist – A Diversion – In the 1848 Kelly Berkshire Directory for Abingdon, there is no mention of post being sent to Draycott Moor, Longworth or Hinton Waldrist. Under the individual entries for Longworth and Hinton Waldrist (spelt Waldrish), it just says that letters are received through the Abingdon office. (Draycott Moor does not have its own entry.) I have looked through the 1851 census for Draycott Moor, Longworth and Hinton Waldrist and can find no mention of postal services. I wonder whether this means that their post was sent to Kingston Bagpuize and then taken on by the post boys. Two post boys for a small village such as Kingston Bagpuize does seem excessive, and Kingston Bagpuize does stand on the main road to Abingdon.

1854 The Billings Directory shows the sub-postmaster to be George Shepherd, but does not give a dwelling place.

1854 The Post Office Directory of Berkshire, Northants, etc says that the receiver is George Shepherd. Letters arrive from Abingdon at 10 am and The other George Shepherd is still the post master at Abingdon. Foot messengers are dispatched to Kingston Bagpuze (sic) at 6 am – receiving house – Kingston Bagpuze.

1861 In the census, George Shepherd is shown as a baker, living in the baker’s shop, but again, there is no mention of postal duties. His entry lies between that for the Hind’s Head and the Day School. There are no other entries relating to the post.

1868 According to Cassey's Directory, George Shepherd was the baker and postmaster.

1871 In the census, George Shepherd is shown as a baker and mealman, living in the bake house, but yet again, there is no mention of postal duties. There are no other entries relating to the post in the census.

As George Shepherd was a baker it seems likely that the post office was in the Corner House at the junction of Abingdon Road and Oxford Road.

1872 The Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales just says that there is a post office, of the name Kingston, under Abingdon.

1876 On the OS map, there is a post office shown on the west side of Abingdon Road by the junction with Faringdon Road and by the weighbridge. (The map is shown in Peter Keene’s book Kingston Bagpuize with Southmoor a Sense of Place)

1876 Harrod & Co’s Directory of Beds, Bucks, etc., does not mention a PO in the village but says that the nearest money order, telegraph office and post town is at Abingdon. (In the directory, the “i” is missing from Bagpuize.) I assume that there must have been at least a receiver in the village.

1881 The census shows that the post mistress was Maria Jefferies living in the post office. The entry for her is immediately before that for the Hind’s Head. I do not know when she took over the job. My feeling is that she was probably in the post office shown in the OS map mentioned above, as in the census, the post office is at the bottom of page 17 with schedule number 89 and the Hind’s Head is at the top of page 18, with the schedule number 90. However, in the census, the Corner House is not named and there is no sign of a baker, so perhaps she was in the Corner House/Bake House? (See next entry.)

There are no other entries in the census relating to the post.

1883 A map of Kingston Bagpuize, dated 1883, on shows the post office to be still in the same place as the OS map of 1876. This, I think, confirms that Maria was post mistress here and then moved to the semi-detached in Faringdon Road between about 1883 and 1891.

1891 The census shows that Maria Jefferies was still the post mistress. By this time, however, the post office is clearly in the Faringdon Road. This would have been in the western half of the pair of semi-detached cottages by the junction with School Road.(See entry for 1900)

There is [on this census] a Hannah Money, aged 59, living in Kingston Street and described as a Letter Carrier.

1892 A telegraph office was opened at the post office. (Postal Museum information)

1899 The Kelly Directory has Maria’s son, James Henry Jefferies, as the sub-post master. It says that postal orders are issued but not paid.

1900 A money order saving bank opened at the post office. (Postal Museum information)

Four maps of Kingston Bagpuize, dated 1899, 1900, 1914 and 1916 on, suggest that the post office is in the second building past School Lane west along Faringdon Road. The photograph on page 20 of Peter Keene’s book, taken perhaps during WW1, is, I think, this building, which is a pair of semi-detached cottages. Judging by the shadows, the photograph seems to have been taken about mid-day in high summer, with the photographer standing in Faringdon Road to the south west of the building. On the right of the photograph, through the trees, one can just see part of the gable end of another building and the sloping roof of an extension. As we know, from the photograph on page 24 of the book, the pairs of semis west of School Lane are identical.

1901 The census shows James as the sub-post master, but the address is just Kingston Village. It seems likely though that the post office was still the same as when Maria was there. As James was living in the post office in 1891, while working as an agricultural labourer, it is possible that he succeeded his mother at the post office when she died in 1892, but this is not at all conclusive.

In the household next to James Jefferies in the census there is a 14 year old lad called Percival Ricketts, described as a Telegraph Boy, working from home. Hannah Money, now a widow, is still a Letter Carrier.

About 1900 to 1920’s Mrs Sutton in her recollections said that at the turn at the century the post was brought from Abingdon by Mr King on his bicycle. Richard Cox adds that he continued doing this until well into the 1920s and that on one occasion he had to be rescued on his return journey to Abingdon in a heavy snowstorm. As the mail increased, it was delivered twice a day.

1912 The Vale of the White Horse Directory shows that James Jefferies is still the sub-postmaster.

1915 The Vale of the White Horse Directory has a Mr Lane as the sub-postmaster

1915 - 1920 Kelly’s Directory has the following entry – Post M.O., T. & Telephonic Express Delivery Office. Miss Lilian Taylor, sub-postmistress. Letters arrive from Abingdon at 8am and 2.50 pm; dispatched at 3.15 and 6.15 pm; Sundays 11.5 am.

About 1915 to 1920 Sybil Beard, in her recollections, says that during and shortly after WWI, the post office was held by the Drew Family at the Corner House, and that they also ran a bakery and small store (including stationery). She then says that the post office was run by Mrs Russell at the corner of School Lane. This suggests that it was then in the house next door to the one where Maria and James Jefferies had it, i.e. the eastern half of the pair of semi-detached cottages. This recollection seems to miss out Miss Taylor (previous and next entry).

1920 Kelly’s Directory has Miss Lilian Taylor as post mistress and grocer. It is not clear whether she would have been in the Corner House or by School Lane.

1928 The Kelly's Directory has Mrs Mary Russell at the post office. [NB Aubrey and Mary Russell who ran the Post Office]

1936 The photograph on page 24 of Peter Keene’s book shows the cottage next to School Lane to be displaying signs, presumably for the post office.

Unknown date. Colin Smith in his recollections says that Elsie Kimber came from Fyfield to run the Southmoor post office. I cannot date this and I am not sure whether the Southmoor post office is different. [This is Kingston Post Office J.M.]

Unknown date. Jim Soden, in his recollections, says that sometime after 1935/36 May Timms lived in the lived in the post office.

Unknown date. The post office was then taken over by Mr and Mrs Garrett, who ran it for a few years.

1956 PO taken over by Mr and Mrs Garrett’s son and his wife.

Unknown date.  At some point, the post office was moved to the south side of Faringdon Road and just west of the Stone House. The building was set back from the road. I think that the move across the road took place during the tenure of the senior Garretts, but I am not sure.

1989 The post office was then run for a short while by an Irishman, Kieran Brennan. After this it was taken over by Shirley Squires, who had previously helped out. After a couple of armed robberies, she sold the old building and had a new and more secure post office built nearer to the road.

This story of the Kingston Bagpuize Post Office continues here including a Post office Officials Summary

Written by Al Jefferies