Click on image or on Charmouth Home to return back

Charmouth Post Office

Charmouth`s Post Office closure at the end of May after over two centuries has come as a shock to villagers. It has had five locations within the village during this time. The original site still exists and is now Charmouth Stores (Nisa). It was here in 1806, that Joseph Bradbeer opened one of the first Post Offices in the country. The Post Office may well have begun even earlier as he was also the tenant of The Mail Coach Inn on the opposite side of the Street which was described as a Post House for the Royal Mail coaches that went between London and Exeter. Holdens directory for Charmouth in the year 1810 describes him as the owner of the Post Office and Landlord of the Inn. The business succeeded and the following year he gave up the lease on the Inn and extended the shop into tea and provisions. He left the Post Office to his wife Lydia on his death in 1821, who later married William Dodson Watts, a local teacher. The marriage was a disaster and William went off with her money and left her having to sell the business. It was bought by village carpenter, John Carter in 1840 and remained in his family until 1864, when a devastating fire swept through this and its neighbours properties. It was partly rebuilt by Giles Pryer, a builder who owned the adjoining house. The business never fully recovered, and the son sold it to James Hawkins, the following year. He was only there briefly before selling the Post Office in 1871 to George Mortimer, who was to make a great success of it extending the shop into Drapery as well as Groceries. He bought the freehold of the shop and also the other Grocers at the top of the Street where Portland House is today. He was to be there for the next 20 years, before moving to London and was then bought by Edward Vince, who continued expanding the range of goods and also ran a separate shop where Melville House is now.
In 1896 after ninety years in the same premises the Post Office was taken over by William Holly and moved further up the Street to Wistaria House, where it was to be run by the father and son, William jnr. for the next 40 years. When the father died in 1931, the son opened part of it as a stationary shop. There was an annex built which was let to a branch of the Wilts and Dorset Bank, which later was taken over by Lloyds Bank.  William Holly junior finally retired from the Post Office and its next move was to the top of The Street to Melville House in 1939 where it was run by Ellis and Nora Long. Mr Long was the post master and his wife also worked in the post office and shop. Their daughter, Elise Miles, remembers that her father did not have a car then but had a bicycle with a huge basket on the front. They took delivery orders over the phone, even for a packet of sugar, and ran several deliveries a day. Postmen filled the post office every morning as the building included a sorting office down the side of the shop where all the local mail was sorted by hand. Inside the shop the Post Office was at the end and a grill in the front. Parcels were wrapped in brown paper and string with long pencil seals which melted at the end and sealed the string knots to prevent people tampering with them. Long lines of people came into the post office for their pensions. They also took telegrams, with Nora ringing them through on the big black phone, telegrams were not welcome as quite often it was bad news in this era. Most of the villagers came into the shop daily as everything they needed was there. The Post Office ran until Ellis and Nora retired in 1965.
The Post Office was again to change sites – this time at the other end of the Street to where the other businesses at that time were clustered on either side of the Street. Devonsedge had formerly been a large guest house with a bakers below run by the Cole family for many years. The ground floor was later subdivided, and the Post Office rented the left side with a butchers in the other part. This explains why the present-day Post box is in its present position rather than on the corner.
There was one last move to the corner of Barr`s Lane and the Street when John and Ruth Withers moved a few doors down to its present site. In August 1999, Steve and Gill Pile took over the Post Office. Sadly, after nearly twenty years their time there has come to an end and Charmouth has after over 200 years to face a future without a Post Office, which has been for so long the mainstay of Village Life.

This is a print of how the Mail Coach would have looked as it stopped at the Bradbeers Post Office at the end of the day to pick up the days Post in 1806.

John Carter`s appointment to Post Master in Charmouth 31st October 1839.
The Penny Black was introduced in 1840 as the first postage stamp. This cover would have been specially stamped in Charmouth Post Office by John Carter before dispatch to William Salter, a Solicitor in Chard, Somerset.
An Advert for when John Hawkins took over the Post Office in 1865.
George Mortimer, who is seen in the doorway with his staff of the Post Office in 1880.
Charmouth Stores c.1890, then owned by Edward Vince.
Frederick Chard outside the Grocers he managed for Edward Vince who also owned the Post Office at this time. George Pidgeon who is standing in the doorway was the village postman. The same shop in Melville House was later to become the Post Office run by Ellis and Nora Long.
Wistaria House which for over 40 years was the village Post Office run by William Holly, Father and son from 1896.
The village Postman in the garden of Beech House.
Charmouth`s Postman posing with his bicycle in 1911.
This marvellous post card shows William Holly senior and William Holly junior outside Wistaria, where the Post Office was sited for over 40 years in 1910.
William Holly senior with his wife.
The Postal Van outside Wistaria, where for over 40 years the village Post Office operated.
A Post Office van is seen here parked outside the Post Office in 1920. The former Post Office is now run as a gift shop called “Herringbone” and the house renamed “Langley House”.
This painting by Claude Muncaster clearly shows the Post Office at that time run by Ellis and Nora Long on the left. It was used as a poster to promote the National Savings Bank and would have been displayed in Post Offices around the country in the 1950`s.
An automobile stops outside the Village Post Office in Mellville House c.1938.

The Post Office at Melville House in 1940 shortly after Ellis and Nora opened it at the top of the Street.


The Post Office is shown here in 1983 when it occupied a shop in Devonedge.

A younger Steve and Gill Pile in August 1999 outside the Post Office which they had just purchased from John and Ruth Withers.

Twenty years on the couple pose again with their dog outside the entrance to the Post Office.
The end of an era. After over 200 years, Charmouth is saying good bye to its last Post Master and his wife.