Sir James Murray's Post Box – Oxford, England - Atlas Obscura

AO Edited

Sir James Murray's Post Box

A letterbox installed specifically for the first editor of the Oxford English Dictionary. 


As a society, civilizations erect monuments to commemorate particular events or to honor specific individuals. In the neighborhood of North Oxford, a visitor might encounter a nondescript post box underneath a Blue Plaque recognizing the work Sir James Murray (1837 - 1915) contributed towards the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary. What they might not be aware of is the relationship these two objects have on one another.

The circular sign correctly identifies Murray as editor to the aforementioned tome, but what is not stated, is that the post box was positioned outside his residence because of the amount of mail he was sending as he compiled the lexicon. This may be the only time the Royal Mail has ever chosen to install one of its iconic receptacles to accommodate the correspondence of one specific individual.

Besides this most unique fact, there are other features that make this everyday object exemplary. This post box is known as an “Anonymous” pillar box, in that it doesn’t contain either a royal cipher (Queen Victoria or Queen Elizabeth II) or the words “Post Office.” The Royal Mail began installing these types of unidentified boxes in 1879. This particular pillar box was ensconced in 1885. Rather than having the hexagonal shape of the originals, this post box is one of the first to be cylindrical.

In partnership with KAYAK

Plan Your Trip

From Around the Web