Willen Employment

The Willen Sub-post Office

The Abbotts 'did' the post in Willen for most of the nineteenth century. In the early part of the century Thomas Abbot was the official receiver, i.e. the Carrier from Newport Pagnell would bring the bag of letters for Willen to Thomas for distribution, and Thomas would give him the bag of letters from the villagers. However, by 1860 the Abbott's house was recognised as an official Sub-post Office, and Thomas Abbott as the Sub-Postmaster. The office would be in his front room, very like the one shown in the picture.
Not all postmen in Willen were reliable. James Pell, the official carrier for Willen in 1856 was suspended by the Post Master in Newport Pagnell, when he turned up for work in a "State of intoxication". Pell went round to argue with the Post Master at his home, in a similar state of drunkeness", but only succeeded in getting himself sacked!

There was a time in 1861 when the Post Office was threatened with closure, (it didn't do much business - just stamps for letters). But the local manager wrote the letter shown left, to ask that the office be kept open, at least until Thomas Abbott had died, because Thomas believed he had been promised as much, and anyway he was only being paid £4 a year. Thomas was 81 years of age at the time. However, when he did die, his wife Elizabeth and then his son Robert took over as Sub-Postmaster. The Post Office was finally shut in 1884 and replaced by a wall box, which still exists next to the gate to the churchyard. The post would then be collected and delivered house to house by a postman like Richard Goodman, who lived three doors up in the village.

Photograph and letter reproduced by permission from the Royal Mail Heritage Centre, copyright reserved.