Swaffham – 1894 Former Post Office

This is quite an enchanting little extension, added in 1894 to serve as Swaffham’s Post Office. It’s quite brave to actually mark in brick what the building is going to be used for, as things inevitably change, but it does make it easier over a century on to understand its original purpose. This set of buildings is listed, with the main part of the structure dating from the eighteenth century, but the listed building record makes no specific mention to the post office.

Things didn’t quite work out in 1903 at what I will call ‘beegate’. A swarm of bees decided that they liked the dome on the building (to the left of the photo) and they set up residence there. Local bee-keepers decided they weren’t dealing with that, so the fire brigade came with hoses to wash the bees into the gutters. The Norwich Mercury reported that after the bees were in the gutters, “the sun being warm revived the bees, and an angry swarm hovered all day just above the doorway of the Post Office”.

The Norfolk Chronicle reported in 1908 that the Post Office had a public house sign swinging above its doors. The reason is that this sign used to hang from outside the Crown pub, and when the new postal building opened, it was thought that some relic of the old coaching inn should remain (the Crown had closed in the 1870s). So they shoved the pub sign up at the Post Office, which I’d have thought caused more confusion than anything else.

There’s a photo of the Post Office from 1937 here, and I can see where they have delicately placed this pub sign (which had by that time gone).