The Old Post Office, Tintagel, Fore Street. This "small but remarkably preserved mid fourteenth-century manor house" is Grade I listed, and stands out amid the "depressing mixture of late Victorian and Edwardian dourness and modern garishness" on the town's long main street (McCabe 43). it is seen here from the rear, across the cottage garden. According to the listing text, it is made of local slate stone rubble, with a rag slate roof and stone rubble chimney stacks on the gable ends. The warped roofing is one of its outstanding features. It was never entirely a post office: one of its rooms was rented for that purpose in the mid-1840s, when the Penny Post increased the volume of post to the town.

Notice the simple windlass well near the back door.

The premises continued to be used like this until 1892. By then, thanks largely to the nearby ruins of Tintagel Castle, with their Arthurian associations, Tintagel had become the popular tourist destination that it is today. Interest had being growing since Tennyson came on his first visit in 1848, to see the scenery of "the vanished land of Lyonesse" (qtd. in Thorn 227). Lyonesse, as readers of Thomas Hardy's poetry will know, is the old name of Cornwall, the county in which Hardy met his first wife Emma, and which he revisited in poems like "After a Journey" after her death.

Inevitably, the coastal town's popularity resulted in redevelopment, and the quaint old former "post office" now came under threat. After being put up for auction, it was rescued by local artists who raised money to keep it until it could be repaired. This task was undertaken by "the leading Arts and Crafts architect, Detmar Blow [1867-1939], according to the strict principles laid down by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings" ("Old Post Office"). It is good to see such an example of SPAB's success. Since 1903 the building has been in the hands of the National Trust. The chimney stacks were rebuilt in the early twentieth century, and the whole building was restored in 1971.

Photographs from 1999, text and formatting by Jacqueline Banerjee. You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web project or cite it in a print one. [Click on the images to enlarge them.]


McCabe, Helen. Houses and Gardens of Cornwall: A Personal Choice. Padstow, Cornwall: Tabb House, 1988.

"The Old Post Office." Historic England. Web. 3 January 2021.

"Old Post Office." Tintagel Web. Web. 3 January 2021.

Thorn, Michael. Tennyson. London: Little, Brown, 1992.

Created 3 January 2021