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Saturday, 5 November 2011

A historic mailbox

The building that is now the Old Lyme Guest House in Coombe Street was, from 1799 to 1853, the town's Post Office. The wooden posting box, which is still in its original place on the wall (see picture) is one of the oldest surviving mailboxes in Britain.

As can be seen from the photograph, the posting box has both a vertical and a horizontal slot. These were not in use at the same time, but reflect changing government guidelines! In 1846 all Postmasters were instructed to adopt a vertical aperture because it was thought to be more difficult to steal a letter through one (stealing letters was a serious crime punishable by death). However, ten years later in 1856 the authorities decided that horizontal slots were acceptable after all!

To learn more about the social history of Lyme Regis, visit the Museum website.

1 comment:

Keith said...

Interestingly, although this mail box is very old, I believe that the building was not the first Post Office in Lyme Regis. A 100 years earlier in 1695, a Mrs Bowdidge ran a Coffee House on Broad Street which evidence shows was also used as a Post Office.