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Letter written during WW-I reaches its destination almost 100 years later: 'Surprised and mystified'

The letter was mailed in February 1916 and carried a postcard from the English city of Bath and a stamp with King George V's head.

Letter written during WW-I reaches its destination almost 100 years later: 'Surprised and mystified'
Cover Image Source: Photo by Viktorya Shuvalava / EyeEm

Although postal letters are not really the preferred communication method in a highly digitized world, they are still a treasured form of communication. Nonetheless, it won't really take over 100 years to arrive at the destination, as in the case of this letter, which was written during World War I. According to the BBC, the envelope was mailed in February 1916 and carried a postmark from the English city of Bath as well as a one-penny stamp depicting King George V's head.


The letter came two years ago at the residence of theatrical director Finlay Glen who told the outlet that he was perplexed when he received it in the mail and that he had just recently delivered the letter to a local historical institution, per People Magazine. The 27-year-old said, "We were obviously pretty surprised and mystified as to how it could have been sat around for more than 100 years." The mystery letter was sent by her friend Christabel Mennell to Katie Marsh, wife of local stamp mogul Oswald Marsh and relates her visit to a sanatorium in Bath where her father was a wheelchair user. 

The envelope also has a stamp from the Sydenham sorting office, which operated for more than a century before closing in recent years. Glen speculated that the letter was discovered and placed in the day's post after the office was cleared out. A Royal Mail representative recognized that such events are uncommon. They said, "We are uncertain what happened in this instance. We appreciate that people will be intrigued by the history of this letter from 1916, but we have no further information on what might have happened." 


In the letter, Mennell wrote she felt "quite ashamed of myself after saying what I did" and that she had been feeling "miserable here with a very heavy cold." Stephen Oxford, editor of the Norwood Review, a quarterly local history magazine, said, "It's very unusual and actually quite exciting in terms of giving us a lead into local history and people who lived in Norwood, which was a very popular place for the upper middle classes in the late 1800s." He added, "Crystal Palace generated a huge influx of very wealthy people and so to find out about someone who moved to the area for possibly that very reason is absolutely fascinating." When asked what he would do if the sender or recipient's relatives contacted him, Glen said, "It's an amazing piece of their family history that has turned up - if they want to, they can come round." 

Letters are extremely nostalgic, especially those which date back decades. In another such occurrence, an investigator returned the love letter of a World War II veteran to his daughter almost 75 years after they were written. They were discovered by the woman who bought the childhood home of Carol Bohlin while remodeling it in 1995. Bohlin had no idea her father had sent 18 letters to her mother while serving in the United States Navy. However, this Valentine's Day, she got to read these letters, which connected her to her father in several different ways.

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