AMERSHAM EVENING TOWNSWOMEN’S GUILD
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.