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Letter Posted in 1916 Finally Arrives

The UK postal service, the Royal Mail, took over 100 years to deliver a letter posted in Bath to a London address. That's equivalent to the postal service averaging just over a mile each year - the very definition of snail mail.

Letter dated 1916 finally gets delivered in 2021
Credit: Finlay Glen

The letter, addressed to Katie Marsh and bearing a penny George V stamp and Bath and Sydenham postmarks, finally dropped through the letterbox of theatre director Finlay Glen’s property over a century later.

Katie Marsh, who was married to the stamp dealer Oswald Marsh, and was sent the letter by her friend Christabel Mennell, who was holidaying in Bath, according to research by Stephen Oxford, the editor of The Norwood Review, a local history magazine.

The letter begins: “My dear Katie, will you lend me your aid – I am feeling quite ashamed of myself after saying what I did at the circle.” Unfortunately, over the last 100 years the rest of it has become illegible. It's a shame as the opening sentence had considerable promise to be an intriguing letter.

Royal Mail said it remained “uncertain what happened in this instance”. But Oxford said it was likely the letter got lost at the Sydenham sorting office, which has closed. “I think it is being redeveloped. So, in that process they must have found this letter hidden somewhere, perhaps fallen behind some furniture.”

The house the letter was addressed to has long been demolished and is now a block of flats. Finlay Glen, who's flat was, seemingly, randomly selected to receive the letter, said when he and his girlfriend, Lucy, first saw the date “we thought 2016, then saw it had the king’s stamp on it, and realised 1916 so thought it was probably OK to open it. We were fairly mystified as to how it could have taken so long to be delivered but thought it must have got lodged somewhere in the sorting office and a century later was found and someone stuck it in the post.”

If the real truth emerges, we'll let you know.



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