(July 2020) Post Offices in the Sibfords – 1. The Early Days

The Royal Mail can trace its history back to 1516, when Henry VIII first established a “Master of the Posts” and this service to convey Royal mail was made available to the public in 1635 by Charles I. It was a postal and courier delivery service when mail was carried on horse drawn Mail coaches across the country’s highways and tracks. The recipient was required to pay for the service and could refuse to accept the items. After the Civil War, Charles II introduced the General Post Office which continued to carry mail on coaches with a new Post Office livery.

The introduction of prepaid postage stamps in 1840 (the famous Penny Black) meant that the sender was now responsible for the costs incurred to send mail to anywhere in the UK. Pillar boxes were introduced in mainland Britain in 1853 and a network of shops providing postal services developed across the country.

As communications developed all private telegraphic services were nationalised in 1870 and the network of local post offices were used to receive and deliver the telegrams. Telegraph wires started to appear in the Sibfords in the 1890’s and the first telegraph was received in Sibford Gower in 1896.

Post Office services started in the Sibfords in 1884 and the Banbury Post Master detailed the new postal arrangements for the Sibfords. Bags containing mail for both the Gower and Ferris would be delivered at 7.05am from Banbury by the Mail Cart. The Ferris mail would be in a sealed bag to be taken to the Ferris Post Office which was in The Old Bakehouse at that time. Mr Bert Long ran the bakery and a cycle shop from the Old Bakehouse while Mrs Long ran the Post Office services there as well. Postmen were employed and paid a wage to deliver mail in both villages.

Maureen Hicks