Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - GETTING TOGETHER -

Our evening started with an un­ex­pected change of venue, and a lot of hard work by our chair­man and com­mit­tee to ac­com­mo­date us in a smaller hall, how­ever it all went well even­tu­ally!

Anne Barnard, our Chair­man re­minded ev­ery­one of the forth­com­ing Birth­day party on June 16, and tick­ets were on sale dur­ing the course of the evening, with a choice of menu avail­able.

The So­cial Stud­ies group had en­joyed a visit from a hor­ti­cul­tural ther­a­pist. The aim is to in­ter­act with dis­abled and dis­ad­van­taged peo­ple from any com­mu­nity to en­cour­age them to make pos­i­tive changes to their lives us­ing gar­den­ing skills.

Clients were en­cour­aged to grow food and then cook with the items, giv­ing them fur­ther skills to help their in­de­pen­dence

The Out & About group had sev­eral dates for vis­its, the next one be­ing a visit to Lan­g­ley Park in May to see the aza­leas and rhodo­den­drons, fol­lowed by lunch at Black Park

An­other forth­com­ing event is our an­nual Plant & Cake sale which is to be held on May 30 at the Free Church, from 10am to noon.

This is the main fundraiser for our char­ity, which this year is the lo­cal group of The Royal Bri­tish Le­gion.

This will be fol­lowed on June 25 by an af­ter­noon tea party or­gan­ised and held in the gar­den of our Pres­i­dent, Mar­garet Parry.

All other sub­sec­tions were run­ning smoothly.

Our speaker for the evening was Mr Roy Hol­liss. His topic for the evening was ‘The Penny Black & All That.’ As a keen phi­lat­e­list, he gave us an in­sight into the so­cial his­tory linked to the be­gin­ning of the postal sys­tem.

King Henry I used to send mes­sen­gers for ur­gent let­ters, mainly of­fi­cial doc­u­ments from im­por­tant peo­ple as the main pop­u­la­tion were nearly all il­lit­er­ate at that time.

In Henry VIII’s reign he ap­pointed a head of post, Henry Bishop who set up a method for send­ing let­ters.

Orig­i­nally the cost of post was in­cred­i­bly high, be­fore 1840 post was charged by dis­tance and the num­ber of sheets be­ing sent, one ex­am­ple was a Pri­vate let­ter from Lon­don to Ed­in­burgh cost 1s 3d which was about £7 in our money, and took 2 to 3 days to ar­rive. A sec­ond one was a let­ter sent from Lon­don to Ger­many via stage­coach, horse and then a boat to An­twerp, which cost about £8.

It was aris­to­crats and well-to-do peo­ple who used the post as it was free for them, but as many abused it, there was a grow­ing pres­sure to re­duce costs to the or­di­nary peo­ple in the late 1830’s.

Row­land Hill was ap­pointed as Post mas­ter in 1839. He de­clared a uni­form cost of 4d for the whole coun­try, which was so suc­cess­ful, that he re­duced it to 1d to en­cour­age more peo­ple to use it.

1oz weight = 1d, and on May 6,1840 the first Penny Black was is­sued. The stamps were printed in sheets of 48 which had to be man­u­ally cut by staff to af­fix to the let­ters which were just folded pieces of pa­per; en­velopes were not used un­til late 1820’s. The 2d blue was used for heav­ier items. As the weight in­creased, so the amount of stamps needed, 4ozs = 4d, and the post was de­liv­ered five times a day in­clud­ing Christ­mas Day!

Mr Hol­liss had many ex­am­ples of th­ese rare stamp items to show us, in­clud­ing one from a Scot­tish light­house keeper re­quest­ing fur­ther de­liv­er­ies of oil for the light, and one from 1846 when we sent HMS Rat­tlesnake to China in a mi­nor war to seize some of the opium trade for Bri­tain, all th­ese rare items are very valu­able now.

Ray told us that there are only about 78 known Penny Blacks in ex­is­tence now and even rarer are the 2d Blues, he also said that first day cov­ers have de­creased in value over the years as have most stamp col­lec­tions.

Paula Mun­caster gave a very en­thu­si­as­tic vote of thanks at the end of the meet­ing.

Our next guild meet­ing is on Tues­day, May 19, 8pm, at the Royal Bri­tish le­gion Hall – new mem­bers very wel­come to join us.

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