Local History

The parish Post Office(s) from 1855 to today

Today the parish has one Post Office in the village of St. Mary Bourne inside the village shop which also includes a small cafe. But what about in the past?

Figure 1 – colourised photo postcard (date & photographer unknown)

Figure 1 shows the location of the Post Office in 1855, it is the Old School at Swampton. Moses Butcher the Schoolmaster at the time is the earliest known Postmaster. Today this may seem strange to us as we would not expect to see a modern Headmaster also running a Post Office and definitely not from the local school! At the time though this was not unusual as a Schoolmaster was seen as a someone who could be relied upon to serve the community in a responsible and honest manner.

POST OFFICE.–Moses Butcher, receiver. Letters through National School, Moses Butcher, master Andover, arrive at ½ past 10 a.m.; dispatched 4 m. CARRIER-Edward Cooke, to Andover. The nearest money order office is at Overton.
1855 Post Office Directory of Hampshire, Wiltshire & Dorsetshire

In 1860 the new school was built and the 1861 census tells that Moses was no longer the school master and had moved further up the road from Swampton to the village of St. Mary Bourne.

Figure 2 – colourised photo postcard (c. 1900-1910, photographer unknown)

Figure 2 above shows the area of the second known location of the Post Office. Moses Butcher moved to the property next to what is now Spring House (partially shown thatched property on the right back from the road). What is not known is whether that original property is within this picture.

POST OFFICE – Moses Butcher, receiver. Letters through Andover arrive at 8.25 a.m.; dispatched 6.25 p.m. The nearest money order offices are at Whitchurch and Hurstbourne Tarrant
1867 Post Office Directory of Hampshire

We can see that in 1867 Moses Butcher was still running the Post Office, which now would have been situated as explained above.

In both locations, Moses would have been required to have a sign displayed announcing “Post Office”, an aperture through which letters could be posted as well as hand-stamps. There may have even been a small door through which transactions could be done.

When the first official post office opened at Leamington Spa in 1833, a window was removed from the boot and shoe shop belonging to Mr Enoch, the newly appointed postmaster, and replaced with a small black door carrying a tiny knocker, which when struck, secured the door’s openin, enabling the public to hand in letters.
Pg. 9, Post Offices by Julian Stray

By 1871 there is a new Post Master in the parish, the gentleman below!

Figure 3 – George Neale (1817-1879)
Curtesy of John Caitlin (via Ancestry.co.uk)

Letters via Whitchurch, which is the nearest Money Order Office. Geo Neale, receiver.
1871 Mercer & Crickets, Hampshire Directory

In 1871 George Neale owned and run the Village Shop shown in the photo below (white building with a lady outside), the Post Office didn’t move to the shop at this point but did do so many years later. As Moses Butcher had moved to Binley by 1871 it is possible the Post Office was still where it was before or an entirely different location. Further clues may come to light at a later date.

Figure 4 – High Street, St. Mary Bourne, Hampshire
Scan of an enhanced old image (presumably a postcard) purchased from eBay (colourised)

The Post Office continued to be run by the Neale family until some point between 1915 and 1920.

Post, M.O. & T. Office – Neale & Son, sub-postmasters. Letters through Andover received at 7.5 & 11.45 a.m.; dispatched at 10.45 a.m. & 6.20 p.m.; sundays, 10.45 a.m.
1915 Kelly’s Directory of Hampshire, Wiltshire & Dorsetshire

We can see from the directory entry above that the Post Office now dealt with Money Orders and Telegrams. As by this time the last known location for Moses Butcher’s post office was no longer there and had been redeveloped it would have moved again. I’ve been told by Gary Hopgood that when he was a young lad at school during the second world war the post office was located at what is now Knapp Cottage (previously two cottages Devoran & Rivers Edge), he told me it was in the first as you walked towards the Plough Inn so in what was Rivers Edge. You can see this property in Figure 4 above, there is a white sign on the building that would have been the location that Gary mentioned.

Post, M.O. & T. Office – Bernard Brothers, postmasters. Letters through Andover.
1920 Kelly’s Directory of Hampshire, Wiltshire & Dorsetshire

Our next postmasters were the Bernard Brothers who had taken over not just the post office but the village shop from the Neale family. They did not run it for long though as by 1923 there was another new postmaster Charles Barton.

Post, M.O., T. & T.E.D (available to places within a limited distance) office. Charles Barton, postmaster. Letters through Andover.
1923 Kelly’s Directory of Hampshire & the Isle of Wight

Figure – 5 Charles Frederick Barton (1882-1838)
Curtesy of Sarah Barton

Charles continued as postmaster until at least 1927, however the names of the St. Mary Bourne postmasters are not included in the trade directories I have tracked down again until 1950 when it has now moved into the Village Shop (white building in Figure 4).

The Post Office moved in November, 1946, into the adjoining grocer’s shop.
Pg. 20, St. Mary Bourne Village Records by Kathleen Innes

The Post Office stayed in this location until c. 1990/91 (thanks to members of St Mary Bourne History Facebook group for help with this). Andover Kelly’s Directories give names through to 1966.

  • 1950 – V. J. Smith, propr
  • 1952-1956 – J.C. Hardcastle, propr
  • 1959-1966 – S.H. Mullins, propr

Our next location for the Post Office was a garage on Spring Hill Lane. It didn’t move far just over the other side of the river as Figure 6 below shows the bridge over the river between the High Street and Spring Hill Lane. The Old Post Office is just right of the exit from this path on the High Street.

Figure 6 – View from Spring Hill through to the High Street with bridge over the river

The Post Office continued to be run from a garage until 2001 when a new Post Office and Village Shop was built, and where it still is today.

Stoke also had a Post Office that opened sometime between 1899 and 1911, as yet I have not been able to narrow the date down further. The dates and names below are from trade directories.

  • 1911 – Sidney Shuttle, sub-postmaster
  • 1915-1923 – Herbert Barter, sub-postmaster
  • 1927-1936 – Arthur Rose, grocer & post office
  • 1949-1956 – F. Mackey, shopkpr & post office
  • 1962-1966 – P. R. Coomber, shopkpr & post office

The image above from an unknown newspaper (possibly the Andover Advertiser) suggests the image is from WW1, this is incorrect as you can see the name A. Rose on the shop sign. From the directories we know that Arthur Rose would have taken over the shop between 1923 & 1927 and run it until sometime between 1936 and 1949.

Finally, if anyone can add to the history of the post office in the parish I would love to hear from you, maybe you can put a face to a name of another Post Master.


Sources
Stray, J. (2010). Post Offices. Oxford: Shire Publications Ltd.
Innes, K. (n.d.). St. Mary Bourne Records, Notes on events 1896-1946. St. Mary Bourne: Kathleen Innes.
University of Leicester. Historical Directories of England & Wales (https://specialcollections.le.ac.uk/digital/collection/p16445coll4)
Trade Directories held at Andover Library
Trade Directories held at Hampshire Archives and Local Studies
Trade Directories available at Ancestry.co.uk
Pictures: unless otherwise stated from my own collection
St Mary Bourne and surrounding villages website (https://stmarybourne.org/)

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