Tintagel Old Post Office, a room-by-room guide
See inside the building that once served as the letter-receiving office for the village in Victorian times. Discover antique clocks, a bread oven and an unusual sleeping platform. Find out more about what life was like to live here from the Middle Ages right through to more recent times.
Stepping into the past with a head for history
As a very old house Tintagel Old Post Office has many low beams and uneven floors (especially upstairs) so do be careful when exploring the rooms.
During the medieval period, this room served as the shippen - the part of a longhouse where you would keep cattle. As time moved on and the lifestyle of the inhabitants changed, this room was transformed into a private parlour, along with a sizeable fireplace creating a warm, cosy space.
The North Bedroom
This room is dominated by the 16th century roof structure. It is furnished with simple furniture in a Victorian style with an iron bedstead.
Near to the North bedroom is a mezzanine-style sleeping platform. The sleeping area was used as a bedroom space for young girls before they married. It is thought that women who had not married would remain sleeping on the platform, hence the phrase 'left on the shelf'.
The Hall is open up to the roof and shows the original height of the early building. The main features of this room are the mid-17th-century table outshot and the early 17th-century fireplace with later Victorian cloam oven inserted into it. Cloam is a name given to clay ovens which were normally used for baking bread. This type of oven holds heat and creates a good even temperature which allows the bread to cook without burning.
The South Bedroom
A 17th-century spiral staircase reflects the trends of the time and leads to the south bedroom. The mattress on the bed is supported by ropes. These ropes provides good ventilation around the mattress and helps prevent damp and mould. The ropes require tightening occasionally to prevent the mattress sagging. It is thought that this is where the phrase 'sleep tight' comes from.
Originally the roof trusses were built to support a thatched roof and although thatch is heavy it’s not quite as heavy as solid slate. The weight of the slate has gradually caused the wooden supports to bend and warp. A good example of the roof supports warping can be seen in this room, and a second truss has been added to help support the roof.
The Post Room
During the 1870s, the building was used as the letter-receiving office for the village and Victorian postal equipment can be seen here.
Previously, the building has been home to a variety of different businesses from a greengrocers, dressmakers, drapers and shoemakers. These businesses probably operated from this small room (at different times) whilst the rest of the house remained a family home and the land a working farm.
An early post box
Inserted to the exterior wall just outside the post room is a rare Victorian post box. This type of post box was only in production for two years due to a design flaw as it did not have a cover over the letter slot to prevent rain water getting inside or to shelter letters when they were being posted.
At the Old Post Office a slate cover was installed above the post box to prevent the post from getting wet.
A story spanning six centuries, discover how this ancient abode went from being a thatched farm building in the Middle Ages, to a fashionable home in Tudor times before eventually becoming the letter-receiving office for the village in the 1870s.
The Victorian-style cottage garden is a welcome retreat from the busy high-street. Awash with the colour throughout the year, the garden is planted with scented herbs and fragrant flowers that attract a number of insect pollinators and birds.
Historic buildings are a treasure trove of stories, art and collections. Learn more about what makes these places so special and plan your visit.