Rare Half-Penny Token
In November, as a token of continuing collaboration between the two organisations, the Society gave, on permanent loan, a rare half-penny token to the Bishop’s Waltham Museum which had been bought earlier in the year. The token had been issued by a Bishop’s Waltham grocer, Henry Penford, in 1666… 350 years ago!
Apparently, in the 17th century after the English Civil War the Royal Mint failed to produce enough low denomination coins. As a result, many traders were driven to produce their own ‘tokens’. The inscriptions of these tokens commonly consist of the first name and surname of the issuer (Thomas Penford), the year (1666) and the town or village (Bishop’s Waltham misspelt Wallton) in which he resided. Additionally, there is often the value (halfpenny) and a device or coat of arms (the Grocer’s Company). The tokens were usually struck in copper or brass, the commonest denomination being farthings, followed by halfpennies and some pennies.
Penford is very much a local name and indeed the 1550 rentals from the Bishop of Winchester’s Pipe Rolls (interpreted by John Bosworth) show a Gilbert Penford running two shops with stalls on the High Street where Bishop’s Estate Agent and Hazel’s Florist now stand. It would seem a descendant was also running a shop in the High Street some 100 years later. The small residential road of the south end of Shore Lane is called Penford Paddock and on the east wall of the South Aisle of St Peter’s Church there is a memorial to Elizabeth Penford who died in 1844.