The Society's fifth plaque was unveiled at Penfolds, Sandrock on 28th November 2009 to commemorate John Wornham Penfold, the surveyor and architect and designer of the Penfold pillar box. J W Penfold was born the son of a farmer at Courts Hill, now Penfolds on 3 December 1828. On leaving school, he studied architecture and surveying in London, setting up his own practice after qualification.
His most significant project was in his capacity as surveyor to the Goldsmith company, to oversee a vast construction project in Cripplegate, around Jewin street following a destructive fire in 1889.
In 1868, he was elected the first honorary secretary of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, an office in which he served for a further 36 years. The Penfold family has been in Haslemere since 1650, when Francis Penfold of Petworth purchased land from the Court family in the area where Penfolds now stands. Courts Mount Road is named after this family.
His interest in and contribution to Haslemere was significant. He restored and made significant alterations to Penfolds and was largely responsible for the house we see today. His principal local work was the reconstruction of the parish church of St Bartholomew's, and he was responsible for the replacement of the old Saxon Church. Another important work was the hospital on Shepherds' Hill, now a block of flats. The first hospital in Haslemere, this was built and presented to Haslemere by Mr. Penfold and his two sisters in 1898 in memory of their father and mother.
He also helped James Stewart Hodgson build the working man's club in the High Street.
He was a diligent collector of Haslemere history and gave a number of lectures on bygone Haslemere. He also wrote a paper on the curates of Haslemere for the parish magazine in 1896.
Penfold is probably best known for the design of the Penfold hexagonal postbox, painted green, a replica of which can be found outside the Georgian hotel. Submitted in a competition as the first national standard , the box, hexagonal in shape, was adorned with acanthus leaves and balls and although far less ornate than some of the earlier designs, it was nevertheless expensive to produce, and was mainly replaced by cheaper and plainer boxes within about 13 years of its design. The box again achieved a degree of modest fame in the cartoon series danger mouse. Danger mouse's sidekick was named Penfold after JW Penfold since the duo's secret hideout was in a postbox in Baker Street. Unfortunately the hide out was not a genuine Penfold postbox!
He is buried in the new portion of the Haslemere churchyard.
Haslemere Uncovered Penfold article - CLICK HERE
Google maps location - CLICK HERE
Click here for the Haslemere Society Blue Plaque leaflet on Penfolds.