Letter from 1916 Delivered to London After 100 Years

A letter that was sent over 100 years ago has been delivered to its intended recipient in London.

Letter from 1916 Delivered to London After 100 Years

The letter bore a penny George V stamp and Bath and Sydenham postmarks and was received by Finlay Glen, a theatre director at Crystal Palace, in 2021. The letter was addressed to Katie Marsh, the wife of Oswald Marsh, a local stamp dealer, and was sent by Christabel Mennell, the daughter of a wealthy tea merchant.

The letter began with the line, "My dear Katie, will you lend me your aid – I am feeling quite ashamed of myself after saying what I did at the circle." Mennell expressed her misery and heavy cold in Bath, but the events she was referring to remain unknown.

The Royal Mail has expressed uncertainty as to how the letter got lost and then found after all these years. Stephen Oxford, the editor of The Norwood Review, has a theory that the letter may have been lost at the Sydenham post office, which has since been closed and is currently being redeveloped.

He suggests that the letter may have been found hidden behind some furniture during the renovation process.

Finlay Glen shared the photo of the old letter:

Letter from 1916 Delivered to London After 100 Years

Further research has revealed that Katie Marsh was a friend of Christabel Mennell, the sender of the letter. Marsh's husband, Oswald Marsh, was a stamp magnate who later became known for investigating cases of stamp fraud. He and his wife eventually moved to a Victorian house with stables nearby.

Unfortunately, the house has since been demolished and replaced with flats, one of which contained the post box in which the letter ended up.

  • The BBC (website) reported that the Royal Mail has taken the stance that it is “uncertain what happened in this instance”.

When Glen first received the letter, he and his girlfriend were mystified as to how it had taken so long to be delivered. They simply "shoved it in a drawer" until they realized that it was from 1916, not 2016. Despite the challenge of deciphering the letter due to its age, Glen was amazed at the piece of family history that had turned up.

He added:

“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.”

This discovery is a reminder of the power of written communication to connect people across time and space. As Glen said, "It’s an amazing piece of their family history that has turned up – if they want to, they can come round."