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The Romance of the Letterbox

Presented by Tony Cross

9th May 2023


This was a replacement lecture in lieu of the scheduled: Michael Harris: Mdina Glass & Isle of White Studio Glass due to extream weather conditions on the night.

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As you may remember, and you may as it really was remarkable weather, that afternoon the Heavens had opened, lightning flashed and rained gobstopper sized hail stones down on Surrey and Hampshire resulting in trains, and lecturer, being stuck at Woking Station.  Think of the Thunder and Lightning chorus in the Bach St Matthew Passion and double it.  Too late to warn all the Society members who had put on their wellingtons and were arriving any second.

What to do?

As luck would have it The Arts Society Alton member, Tony Cross, arrived early and just happened to have a lecture up his sleeve. How many of us can say that!!!

By 19.55pm the computer was primed for an illuminating hour on letter boxes in their various designs accompanied by some wonderful pictures. I suspect that the early Cross family holiday destinations may have been chosen with a particular letter box in mind but we were so grateful for the wonderful illustrations.


It was particularly timely theme just three days after the coronation as the King’s cipher had recently been announced. Though there are no letter boxes yet with C III R it was fascinating to trace changes in shape/size/design and monarchs.

Bentworth, one of our local villages, has a rare golden letterbox marking 2012 Olympic glory for one of the residents. It also has a black (decommissioned) wall box, not to mention the standard Royal Red.


For the those who would like to know more there is the wonderful Isle of Wight Postal Museum   Personally, I favour Tony’s suggestion of checking out old British colonies, for instance in the Caribbean.  Many boxes are still in use throughout the world though painted in a variety of local colours.  Again, the Cross Family holidays have ventured to some really lovely destinations in the cause of research of course!

The message of this fascinating impromptu lecture was open your eyes and look around. There really is a story on every street.


The Society is deeply grateful to Tony for springing into action and in the best BBC tradition educating, informing and entertaining.  Thank you.

Lucy Picton-Turbervill

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A member of The Arts Society
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