Former Post Office and Store


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
former Post Office and Store (Jernigan), The Street, Somerleyton, Suffolk, NR32 5PS


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Statutory Address:
former Post Office and Store (Jernigan), The Street, Somerleyton, Suffolk, NR32 5PS

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

East Suffolk (District Authority)
Somerleyton, Ashby and Herringfleet
National Grid Reference:


Former post office and store built around 1848-1857 for Sir Samuel Morton Peto, probably to the designs of John Thomas.

Reasons for Designation

Jernigan, a former post office and store built around 1848-1857 for Sir Samuel Morton Peto, probably to the designs of John Thomas, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* it is a good and externally well-preserved example of a picturesque estate building; * it incorporates many of the typical motifs of the vernacular, all of which are handled with the skill of an assured architect, resulting in a well-proportioned and delightfully detailed building.

Historic interest:

* it forms a notable and coherent ensemble with the visually arresting and ornate estate cottages arranged around the large village green.

Group value:

* it has strong group value with numerous Grade II listed estate cottages, and with the Grade II* listed Somerleyton Hall, extensively rebuilt in the 1840s by John Thomas, which is set within the Grade II* registered park, a C17 park with formal C19 gardens by W A Nesfield.


The Somerleyton estate was purchased by Sir Thomas Wentworth at the beginning of the C17 and shortly afterwards the mansion house was built, surrounded by innovative gardens. In 1844 the estate was purchased by Sir Samuel Morton Peto (1809-1889), a remarkable man who started as a bricklayer before becoming a leading building contractor and the largest employer of labour in the world. He won many notable contracts, including those for the Houses of Parliament and Nelson’s Column, and he built many of the railways in Britain and throughout the world. He was an MP and one of the guarantors for the Great Exhibition of 1851, and in 1855 he was knighted. In 1866 Peto’s firm went bankrupt and he sold the Somerleyton estate to Sir Francis Crossley. His son, Sir Savile Crossley, became the first Baron Somerleyton in 1916. The estate remains (2019) in private hands. Peto employed John Thomas (1813-1864) to rebuild Somerleyton Hall (Grade II*), the parish church (Grade II*), and the picturesque estate cottages around the village green, all of which are listed at Grade II. It is highly probable that Thomas also designed the Old Post Office which is in a similar style. Thomas was primarily a sculptor and ornamental mason. Left an orphan at the age of thirteen, he was apprenticed as a stonemason and was chiefly engaged in the stone-carving and the lettering of gravestones. At the end of his apprenticeship, about 1831, he joined his much older architect brother, William, in Birmingham, and from his office he designed and executed a gothic monument in Huntingdon. This caught the attention of Sir Charles Barry who engaged him to execute the Pugin-designed stone-carving of the Edward VI Grammar School in Birmingham. In the later 1830s he worked chiefly as a stone-carver for Edward Blore and for the North Midland Railway but in 1841 Barry again sought him out for the Palace of Westminster where he was appointed Superintendent of stone-carving in 1846. Royal patronage followed in 1848 with the commission from Prince Albert for large bas reliefs of 'Peace' and 'War' at Buckingham Palace, followed by further work at Windsor and a sculptural programme for the Sultan's Palace at Constantinople. In parallel with his sculpture, Thomas practised as an architect designing Somerleyton Hall, the Dairy in Home Park, Windsor (1860) and Huntington Hill House, Oxford (1861). He died in London in 1862, his health reputedly undermined by difficulties with the Shakespeare memorial at the International Exhibition of that year. Thomas has many listed buildings to his name, including statues and memorials as well as the numerous estate buildings at Somerleyton. The Old Post Office, now known as Jernigan, was built around 1848-1857. It was described as a post office and store in an account of the village given in the Illustrated London News in 1857. The first edition Ordnance Survey (OS) map of 1884 depicts the building with its two bay windows and an L-shaped range of outbuildings to the rear. These were a butcher’s shop and slaughter house. The second edition OS map of 1905 shows that small extensions had been built against the rear elevation and the west side of the post office. At some point between the OS maps of 1927 and 1975 the latter extension had been replaced by a larger single-storey extension. In 2017 the building was converted into a private dwelling with an adjoining bicycle hire shop.


Former post office and store built around 1848-1857 for Sir Samuel Morton Peto, probably to the designs of John Thomas, and converted into a dwelling and bicycle hire shop in 2017.

MATERIALS: red brick laid in Flemish bond with yellow brick dressings and a roof covering of plain red clay tiles.

PLAN: the building faces south-east onto The Street and has a rectangular plan consisting of the main range with a single-storey rear projection and a mid-C20 single-storey extension on the south-west side, now used as a bicycle hire shop. An L-shaped outbuilding is located to the rear (north-west).

EXTERIOR: the two-storey former post office is in a picturesque style with an M-shaped roof embellished with decorative bargeboards and prominent finials. Two chimney stacks in Suffolk white brick with oversailing eaves and circular pots rise through the eaves on the right return and one on the left return. The building has a symmetrical façade of two gabled bays lit on the ground floor by canted bay windows with wooden frames under tiled roofs. The fixed plate glass windows are not original. The four-panel front door in between has glazed upper panels and is sheltered by a gabled canopy with bargeboards, supported by wooden brackets. To the left of the door, set within the wall, is a painted cast-iron post box with the initials GR. The first floor is lit by two four-light casement windows with segmental arch upper sections, all filled with the original lattice cames. The windows and the door have blocked brick surrounds, and blocked yellow brick is also used to suggest quoins at the corners of the building. Adjoining the left side is a mid-C20 single-storey extension of red brick with a hipped roof. It has a door on the left and a three-light window with plate glass to the right. Above this, the left return of the main building has a gabled dormer across the eaves with decorative bargeboards and a finial, filled with lattice cames. The right (north-east) return is dominated by the projecting chimney breasts which have blocked yellow brick quoins. The left chimney is stepped, whilst the right is corbelled out at first-floor level. At the rear is a single-storey projection under a pitched roof clad in pantiles with yellow brick quoins. The windows have segmental arch upper sections and blocked brick surrounds but the glazing is not original. A small lean-to has been added at some point in the C20. INTERIOR: this has been converted into a dwelling and bicycle hire shop in 2017 and does not retain any of the original fixtures and fittings relating to its former use as a post office and store.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: the L-shaped outbuilding to the rear is constructed of red brick laid in Flemish bond and has a mono-pitch roof clad in pantiles. On the long range, from the left, is a door with a glazed upper panel, a three-light window with plate glass (not original), a double-leaf plank and batten door followed by another three-light window and a C20 four-leaf door with large glazed panels. This range has a Queen post roof truss and retains a ring fixed to the floor, presumably relating to its former usage as a slaughter house. The short range has three plank and batten doors of varying widths and retains brick-laid floors.


Books and journals
Bettley, J, Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Suffolk: East, (2015)
Scottish Architects, accessed 16 April 2019 from
Somerleyton Hall and Gardens, Jarrold Publishing, 1998


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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