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Post Office

A Grade II Listed Building in East Grinstead, West Sussex

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.1258 / 51°7'32"N

Longitude: -0.0097 / 0°0'34"W

OS Eastings: 539375

OS Northings: 138158

OS Grid: TQ393381

Mapcode National: GBR KLY.BCV

Mapcode Global: VHGSS.SY7W

Entry Name: Post Office

Listing Date: 17 March 2008

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1392473

English Heritage Legacy ID: 504335

Location: East Grinstead, Mid Sussex, West Sussex, RH19

County: West Sussex

District: Mid Sussex

Civil Parish: East Grinstead

Built-Up Area: East Grinstead

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Sussex

Church of England Parish: East Grinstead St Swithun

Church of England Diocese: Chichester

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Listing Text

EAST GRINSTEAD

658/0/10012 LONDON ROAD
17-MAR-08 76
Post Office

II
Former post office, now sorting office. Commissioned in 1895, completed 1896, it is probably by the architects department of the Office of Works, then under Sir Henry Tanner (1849-1935), in an eclectic C19 Dutch manner typical of the department.

MATERIALS: Red brick in Flemish bond, buff terracotta dressings, glazed brick plinths, slate roofs.

PLAN: Three storeys and basement. It occupies a corner site, the main elevation facing London Road, the side elevation onto Queen's Road. The entrance is in the left-hand bay of the main elevation and led to the former counter hall, with the sorting office at the rear. The telegraph office occupied the small ground-floor room on the north corner, but early in the C20 moved to the first floor, presumably to the large room at the rear. A side entrance on Queens Road leads to the rear of the former telegraph exchange and to stairs to the upper floors which housed offices and on the top floor, living accommodation. The building was extended c1926 replacing existing rear wings with the current sorting office. This section is not of special interest.

EXTERIOR: London Road elevation. In two identical three-storey bays, with a two-storey entrance bay to the left. A pedimented moulded terracotta doorcase is inscribed POST OFFICE on the frieze and bears a coat of arms in the pediment. It encloses a small-paned overlight in a deep moulded frame over a door of eight robustly moulded, raised and fielded panels. The three-storey bays break forward slightly and are articulated by chamfered red brick shafts which rise from first floor level. Each bay has a raised shaped gable parapet over the upper floor windows surmounted by terracotta finials. Ground floor windows are under round arches with alternating terracotta and red-brick voussoirs and a moulded terracotta keystone, which supports the apron of the first-floor window. Each has a slender terracotta cill, and moulded timber mullion-and-transom windows have small panes. Upper-floor windows are small-paned, horned timber sashes in brick openings with terracotta lintels and cills. At first floor, windows are set over moulded terracotta panels, the moulded base and cornice continuing as a storey band. There are similar but simpler moulded bands at upper-storey levels and all incorporate loops for cast iron down spouts. End gables are crowstepped with an internal stack at the left gable and a shallow external stack expressed above first floor level on the Queen's Road elevation, with moulded brick vertical shafts and a moulded red brick base. Below it is a small, narrow doorway under a cambered brick arch with a pronounced keystone. A door of six flush panels is set under a tall three-by-three pane overlight. Flanking small-paned sash windows under similar arches have moulded terracotta cills. A similar first floor window is under a plain brick arch. Moulded storey bands and a glazed brick plinth continue across this elevation. The ground floor northern angle of the building is chamfered under a moulded stone coping.

INTERIOR: The former counter hall has been subdivided at the front and has suspended ceilings which may obscure a moulded ceiling, but sections of the moulded cornice survive particularly on the southern wall. The rear wall, which is largely of glazed panels, has been altered. The doorway from the entrance hall to the former telegraph exchange retains the upper part of a deep moulded doorcase under a shallow overlight. The rear doorcase from the room to the stair well is intact. Some sections of moulded cornice remain. A closed-string staircase rises from ground floor to upper floors and has moulded newels with ball finials and drop finials, stick balusters and a moulded mahogany rail. The first floor is domestic in scale, similar to other smaller public buildings of the period such as police stations. First-floor doors at the front of the building are of six plain panels in moulded architraves under glazed overlights. Other upper-floor doors are of four panels. A marble chimneypiece with an intact cast-iron grate and basket remains in the first floor room over the entrance. The upper floor retains cupboards with panelled doors and a large deep chimneystack. Splayed stairs to the basement have stone steps, cast-iron stick balusters and a moulded rail.

HISTORY: The post office was probably designed by Henry Tanner's Office of Works, was commissioned in 1895 and completed the following year. It replaced a post office in the centre of the old town, in order to be nearer the original railway station, which lay further to the north along London Road. A large block, now the sorting office, was added to the rear in 1926 when works on the post office and telephone exchange are recorded. According to the evidence of Ordnance Survey maps it replaced an earlier rear wing. The telephone exchange moved to new premises in 1965. The counter service moved out during the late C20. The former counter hall is described as having dark, stained-wood counters behind metal grilles on the right hand wall and a continuous shelf lining the left hand wall, reminiscent of a modest banking hall; but which are no longer extant. Behind it was the sorting office.

SOURCES:
M J Daunton, Royal Mail: The Post Office since 1840 (1985)
M J Leppard, One Hundred Buildings of East Grinstead, 2006

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: The post office at No. 76 London Road, East Grinstead, is designated for the following principal reasons:
* The building has special architectural interest for its lively, well-detailed, intact exterior, and as a good example of a late-C19 post-office and commercial architecture. It sits on a prominent corner site and contributes significantly to the streetscape.
* While listed principally for external architectural quality, surviving elements of the internal plan and fittings also contribute to its special interest.

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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