From Post to pub - a building at the heart of the town
Hanging on the wall of the Post Horn, looking down on the pub’s busy bar, is an oil painting of Jersey's first Postmaster, Charles Le Geyt. If his face is somewhat stern, that might be because he was not entirely happy with his appointment.
Charles William Le Geyt, descendant of one of Jersey's oldest and most established families, distinguished himself in action with the British Army, rising to the rank of Captain with the 25th Regiment of Foot.
When he retired to his native Island at the age of 60, he could have hoped for a long and peaceful old age at his substantial house on the corner of Hue Street, in the heart of St Helier. But his hopes were dashed when, on the evening of 18 February 1793 a Post Office Surveyor, Christopher Saverland knocked on his door. Saverland brought with him a batch of mail and a letter from Evan Nepean, Postmaster General, telling him he was now in charge of Postal Services in Jersey.
Captain Le Geyt was honoured, obviously, but also somewhat perplexed as he discovered the cost of running the service left him short-changed and he immediately asked for his salary to be increased to cover his expenses.
The area around Hue Street has changed a great deal in recent years. Many of the cottages that faced Captain Le Geyt’s house have long since disappeared, though those that run along the same side of the street have been beautifully restored.
In 1971 Le Geyt’s house became a pub, called aptly the Post Horn. Restrictions placed on the conversion mean that visitors can still see many of the original features. Now owned by the Liberation Group the building has recently undergone a sensitive refurbishment.
Its role may have changed but the Post Horn still acts as a hub of activity for town folk. Instead of coming to collect their letters and packets, these days customers are coming in for a bit of rest and relaxation.
What used to be the front yard of the house is now a spacious and sunny al-fresco area. Inside, where Captain Le Geyt would have sorted his mail, the downstairs rooms now form the main saloon and bar area and upstairs, where the Postmaster would have enjoyed a good night’s sleep and some privacy are meeting and function rooms.
The building though, shares many of the attributes it enjoyed 220 years ago. It is still welcoming hundreds of Islanders every day and, in common with post offices up and down the country, it was always a place for local people to meet up and have a gossip.
Best Tavern in Bloom
And it seems the Post Horn is reluctant to give up its place as a centre of attraction in St Helier. For the past five years the building has won the Best Tavern in Bloom award for its beautiful hanging baskets. If Charles William Le Geyt were alive today, that would surely give him something to smile about.