|A Brief look|
PRE STAMP (BEFORE 1840)
A brief summary of the history of the postal system in Britain. Taken from the excellent book "Collect British Postmarks"
|Henry I: (1100. 1135) Appointed messengers to carry Government letters. Later, messengers were appointed by Barons, Church dignitaries and others.|
|Henry III: (1216 - 1272) Provided uniforms for the King's Messengers|
|Edward I: (1272 -1307) Instituted fixed places (posting houses) where horses were available for the carriage of letters|
|Edward II: (1307- 1327) The first manuscript postal markings appeared on covers.: "haste, post haste"|
|Henry III: (1509- 1547) Appointed Brian Tuke as "Master of Posts"|
|Elizabeth I: (1558- 1603) Appointed Thomas Randolph as "Chief Postmaster" for the Inland & Foreign mail|
|Charles I: (1625 -1649) Appointed Thomas Witherings as "Chief Postmaster". He set up the nucleus of the modern system with regular post roads, post houses, Staff and fixed rates.|
|Charles II: The General Post
Office in England was created by Oliver Cromwell in 1657. With the
restoration of the Monarchy In 1660, Charles II gave Henry Bishop the task
of delivering the post. Bishop paid the sum of £21,500 per annum
(The first franchise?). To check on delays in his postal system, Bishop
introduced the World's first Postal Handstamp in 1661. This wooden
handstamp was a bisected circle with the Month shown at the top and the
day underneath. About 1713 this sequence was reversed. The Bishop
mark can be found in varying sizes. The Postal charge at the time was
normally written in ink on the letters (manuscript).
Most early letters where folded and sealed. Sometimes with wax impressed with the family crest. The address was written on the outside (as below). Sometimes the address was very brief. indeed. No Postcode/Zip codes used here! I have one letter in my collection posted in 1877 just addressed "Mrs Caswell, Binfield".
|I have referred to the marks here as postmarks, as the term "cancel" or "canceller" refers to the method of canceling adhesive postage stamps with a postmark so they can not be used again.|
SOME LETTERS RELATING TO BRACKNELL BEFORE POSTAGE STAMPS APPEARED IN MAY 1840
1741 LETTER FROM BINFIELD WITH A "BISHOPMARK"
|Binfield is a parish of Bracknell. This
letter has a Bishopmark for 14th Sept. The earlier Bishopmarks where the
other way round with the day underneath. These postmarks where applied in
London, where nearly all post went though The postage rate was 3d
which is added in manuscript on the front. ("3" in
FREE FRANKING SYSTEM
In 1652 the "Franking System" started. Members of Parliament and some other nobility got given the privilege FREE of post The sender had to sign his name on the front of the letter. The postmaster would stamp the letter with the red free stamp to indicate it's free delivery status. This much abused system had it's rules tightened over the years and finally abolished with the introduction of the Uniform Penny Post in 1840
Later collectors of autographs cut the fronts off these letters and stuck them in their albums! There are lots of these fronts on the market, they are called "Free Frank Fronts".
"Frank" is the name now used to describe post in the UK that has been pre paid, normally applied by a "Franking Machine", and still in RED.
The letter illustrated was posted free by the Earl Limerick in Bracknell to Dublin
The first of the new style "Town postmarks" appeared in 1789.
THE PERIOD 1789- 1809
|During this period
most of the large
towns of England used an arced Town name postmark. The small village of
Bracknell had only receiving house status, but this postmark can be
found on letters posted from Bracknell. It is not known whether
this postmark was of local origin. A letter has been seen with this
postmark as late as 1807. The two I have are dated 1802 & 1803
The post rate to London at the time was 5d this letter acquired a double charge. manuscript 10d
|THE PERIOD 1809 - 1813|
|This Period brought
the OFFICIAL straight town
postmark with the mileage mark added underneath. Thirty Two miles is the mileage
from London to Bracknell via Windsor. The
mileage was always calculated from London, because most letters went to
London first for delivery onwards.
Windsor (6 miles away) was where the mail coach dropped the post for Bracknell off on it's journey from London to the west.. The Bracknell Postmaster had to go everyday to Windsor to exchange the mail. Probably by foot.
|THE PERIOD 1814 - 1832|
|In 1814 the straight town
postmark with the mileage mark changed too 31 miles underneath.
At this time Bracknell's status as a just a receiving house came to a close. The mail was now included on the Staines/Wokingham ride via Virginia Water. This route is only 31 miles form London hence the change of mileage from 32. No more walks through highwaymen riddled forests to pick the mail up.
A new postmistress was employed in 1814 as well.
This postmark was repaired many times during it's life.
The additional coded red postmark is one of the styles that was used between 1799 - 1839. The letter at the top of the red postmark is the time in code, hence the name "coded postmark"..
|THE PERIOD 1832 - 1839|
|The straight line Postmark was replaced by a UNDATED circle in Black. The colour changed to Red/Orange about 1937. The outlying Sub Post Offices also had their own postmarks in this style.|
||THE PERIOD from 1939|
|A new postmark
appeared with the date included. I have seen this mark in
Red/Orange, Black and a dark Blue. These postmarks remained after
the introduction of stamps and where used mostly as receiving
The postal rates changed frequently until the Uniform penny post came into being in Jan 1840 & The world's first postage stamp appeared in May that year.
Sometimes, various OTHER MARKS where applied to letters. . See also Receiving marks
|DON'T BE BASHFUL! If something is wrong or would like to add to this information. Please let me know.|
|Copyright © F.MARDLE 1999. 2000. 2001. 2002 All rights reserved. Published by Collectnews|