If you’ve ever been lucky enough to visit South-West England, you’ll know that one of the defining features of the region is the quirky architecture and tiny granite cottages that litter the area. Tintagel Old Post Office is one such example of these iconic granite homes. Set a little back from the main road, in a quieter part of Tintagel, you’d be forgiven for not barely noticing its presence.
Lying in the shadow of much larger neighbours, this Grade I listed property is now owned and managed by the National Trust. Situated in the alleged birthplace of the legendary King Arthur, the building was originally built as a medieval manor. Constructed in around 1380 CE, the house has gone numerous changes and uses over the years, including a brief stint as a post office during the Victorian era.
Oh, and I forgot to mention, Tintagel Old Post Office is reputedly haunted…
Medieval Manor Origins
From the outset, the house was destined to play a large role in the history of the town. This 14th-century farmhouse, built in the style of a medieval manor, with its impossible looking roof has well and truly stood the test of time. Although it has been altered significantly, as can be expected of any property this age, the house has maintained its original skeleton, giving us a sneak peek into medieval Cornwall life…
With a cast iron bedframe, few decorative ornaments and open beam detail, it’s hard to imagine how anyone could imagine this room as ‘cozy’. This is how the property would have looked during the Victorian era and it’s pretty amazing to get a glimpse into Victorian life. On the walls, it’s possible to see various examples of ‘samplers’. These were traditionally created by girls as young as nine and were shown to potential suitors later on in life as examples of the girls’ skill.
‘Left on the Shelf’
Immediately outside of the North bedroom sits an unassuming shelf. However, this ‘shelf’ once the sleeping quarters for unmarried women who lived in the cottage. Though this shelf overlooks the center of the cottage and its place near the fire would have made it a cozy sleeping place, you would not have wanted to be ‘left on the shelf‘.
The rather sexist phrase ‘left on the shelf’ is a term which exists in English to denote older women who have since passed ‘marriageable age’ and are still single. The phrase reflects the fact that these women would still have ‘slept on the shelf’, much like the one in Tintagel Old Post Office.
The parlour would have been the center of the house, and where residents would congregate to chat, work, and eat. This room was the hub and heart of social activity in the house. Like much of the rest of the property, decoration was sparse. Useful utensils were put on display in favour of expensive ornaments. Living in the cottage was about practicality and utility rather than comfort.
After emerging from the claustrophobic nature of the house, it was refreshing to see a garden in full bloom. Although the garden is small, it’s packed with flowers and kitchen herbs. The garden is also the perfect place to admire the slightly sagging roof of this quaint cottage.
Tintagel Old Post Office
As often happens with names, the ‘Tintagel old post office‘ was actually used as a post office for very few years before being abandoned in favour of a more modern building. By the turn of the 20th-Centruy, the property had fallen into such poor repair that it was almost demolished. By the mid-20th Century, the property was acquired by the National Trust and its future was finally secured.
Before you go rushing off to visit this property, I have to point out that it is pretty small. The house can be visited within the space of an hour and I highly recommend combining a visit to the Old Post Office with the ruins of nearby Tintagel Castle. Therefore, a visit to this tiny yet quirky cottage is highly recommended if you’re in the area… You can find out more about visiting the Post Office on the National Trust Website.