A post office and an abdication

BRADFORD-ON-AVON is a charming old-fashioned town in Wiltshire. It straddles the River Avon, which flows through Bath and Bristol. Its Town Bridge is not only old (construction includes some 14th century structure) but also it has a small building on it. This was originally a chapel but became used as a lock-up in the 17th century. Also of interest is the Roman Catholic church of St Thomas More, which is unusual in that it is housed on the first floor of what had once been the Town Hall (built 1854).

Despite the many old and attractive buildings in the town, what interested me most was the old post office. It stands in the picturesque Shambles, which used to be the part of the town dedicated to slaughtering animals and butchering. Compared to many of its neighbours, it is a relatively modern building; it was built in 1899 (www.bradfordonavonmuseum.co.uk/post). It was designed by William Henry Stanley. Then, in 1935 it was enlarged. By the time the new extension was complete, King Edward VIII had ascended to the Throne. What makes it most interesting and unusual is that it bears the monogram of King Edward VIII and the date 1936.

King Edward VIII, who succeeded King George V, reigned from the 20th of January 1936 until he abdicated on the 11th of December 1936. As is well-known, he gave up the throne to marry the American divorcée Mrs Wallis Simpson. What is less well-known is that few, only of a handful of, new post offices were opened in Edward’s brief reign (http://britishpostofficearchitects.weebly.com/bradford-on-avon.html), and Bradford-on-Avon’s extended branch was one of them.

I first spotted the Edward VIII monogram when we visited the town about 20 years ago. Then the post office in the Shambles was still in use. About 5 years ago, this special post office closed. It now operates from within a Co-Op supermarket in the town. However, the old office is now a protected building. The monogram remains but the building is now home to various shops.

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