Designer behind rare post boxes which exist around the capital named as a most influential surveyor

PUBLISHED: 09:00 01 April 2018

Only 36 of the earliest designs of Penfolds exist in the whole of the UK. Picture: Mike Quinn

Only 36 of the earliest designs of Penfolds exist in the whole of the UK. Picture: Mike Quinn


The late designer behind the rare Grade II-listed Penfold post boxes in London - of which only 36 remain in the UK today, including one in Bexley, has been recognised as one of the most influential surveyors of the past 150 years.

John Wornham Penfold created the Penfold pillar box, and London has the highest concentration in Britain of these original rare post boxes, with one located on Parkhurst Road, Parkhill Road.

The capital has 16 dotted around, including in Islington, Walthomstow, Clapham, Hackney and Camden.

Born 190 years ago, John Wornham Penfold was a leading architect and founding member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

His design for the British hexagonal post box - adorned with acanthus leaves and balls - was commissioned by the Post Office in 1866 and created a national standard for letter boxes.

The admiration of his post-box design was later characterised in the well-known Danger Mouse cartoon series, after the crime-fighter’s side-kick was named ‘Penfold’, as the duo’s hide-out was a letter box.

Other original Penfold letter boxes can be found in Surrey, Chichester, Brighton and Cheltenham.

Some are still in use today, over 150 years later, and all are classed as Grade II listed buildings.

As part of its 150th anniversary this year, RICS is recognising and celebrating the most influential surveyors - from over the last 150 years who have had a significant and positive impact on society - in what is known as its ‘Pride in the Profession’ campaign.

RICS members nominated Mr Wornham Penfold to be celebrated as part of the initiative, and in recognition of his achievements, a replica Penfold post box - as well as further details on Penfold’s career highlights – is currently being displayed at a unique exhibition at RICS’s headquarters in London.

Sean Tompkins, CEO, RICS said: “The Pride in the Profession initiative is about celebrating the remarkable contribution surveyors have had, and continue to have on society. John Wornham Penfold’s work as a leading surveyor of his time, his contribution to the RICS and the historic design of the Penfold box stand him out as a great surveyor worthy of recognition.

“Examples like John Penfold’s serve to remind us what a varied and rewarding career surveying can be.”

To nominate an influential surveyor for RICS’s ‘Pride in the Profession’ campaign, or for details of its 150th anniversary exhibition – known as ‘Shaping the World, Building the Future’ - visit


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