From the Thorley Archives
James Hale

James Hale opened the first Post Office in Thorley in 1854 and was in charge of it, with help from his family, until 1901. The Universal Penny Post system had only been operating since 1840. It is recorded that Mr Hale began business on December 21st with 1 worth of stamps and that his wife had done the delivery from Bishop’s Stortford for 11 years. This Post Office was a small community sideline as James Hale was also a carpenter whilst his wife Eliza ran the laundry for Twyford House in a wash room at the back of their cottage. The Post Office was situated in the front room of the house that still bears the name ‘Old Post Office Cottage’ and is located next to the bus stop in Thorley Street, south of its junction with Whittington Way. James Hale built an outpost for Thorley Church in Twyford Road called The Mission Hall in 1892. He also built a barn for Francis Newman at Moor Hall Farm in 1896 for 40. When Eliza died in 1901 and then James in 1902 the grateful parishioners erected a headstone to them both inscribed with

‘….for 47 years faithfully discharged
the duties of the Post Office’.

Their grave is to be found behind the cherry tree to the east of the south porch to the church.

Their youngest daughter Annie Watts then took over the postal responsibilities in 1901 from the same front room until 1933.

Subsequently the Post Office moved twice, further down Thorley Street to Jesse Hadaway at the Beer House (immediately before the ‘new roundabout’) and then to Mrs Groom during the Second World War (just beyond the ‘new roundabout’), before returning to the cottage next to the original Post Office in 1948. Miss Ruth Clark kept the service going until 1967.

If anybody can add any further information, especially about the Mission Hall or any postal evidence relating to Thorley – postcards, postmarks or photographs, I should be pleased to record their memories for our village history files.


Bill Hardy



James Hale in 1890

James Hale in 1890

Ruth Clark and Michael Camp c1950

Ruth Clark and Michael Camp
(son of the late Tom Camp)
c1957 - outside the Post Office


From the Archives