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A 1916 Lost Letter Delivered in London More Than a Century Later 

The letter was dropped through the letterbox of the theatre director Finlay Glen’s Crystal Palace

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Hrishita Chatterjee
Hrishita Chatterjee
Covering culture and trending topics

UNITED KINGDOM: A letter lost in 1916 in the post was retrieved and delivered to an address in London after more than 100 years of being sent from Bath. It was dropped through the letterbox of the theatre director Finlay Glen’s Crystal Palace flat in 2021.

1916 letter finally delivered after a century

Katie Marsh was the one this letter was meant for, who was married to Oswald Marsh, who was a stamp dealer. Christabel Menell sent it, which was at that time enjoying in Bath, in light of the research of Stephen Oxford, editor of a local history magazine, The Norwood Review. 

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The letter commences with, “My dear Katie, will you lend me your aid – I am feeling quite ashamed of myself after saying what I did at the circle.”  

According to Oxford, the written message might have gotten lost at the Sydenham sorting office, which is now closed. He said, “I think it is being redeveloped. So, in that process, they must have found this letter hidden somewhere, perhaps fallen behind some furniture.”

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He also describes the people addressed in the letter, “The Upper Norwood and Crystal Palace area became very popular with wealthy middle-class people in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The letter is from Christabel Mennel, the daughter of a wealthy local tea merchant, Henry Tuke Mennell. And she was friends with Catherine, or Katie, Marsh.” 

He continued, “Oswald Marsh is recorded in 1901 living in Crystal Palace as a lodger and as a stamp dealer. He was 20 then, and I suspect he was being funded by his father, who was a quite wealthy architect who lived in Northern Ireland. They were a Quaker family.”

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In 1940 Oswald married Catherine, who became a prominent stamp dealer known for his expertise in dealing with stamp frauds. The letter was addressed to the demolished house and presently is a row of flats. 

Finley Glen, who received the letter, initially thought the date was 2016, but the king’s stamp made them realise the year was 1916. 

“We were quite perplexed as to how it could have taken so long to be delivered, but we reasoned that it must have gotten caught in the sorting office for a century before being discovered and being mailed,” he added,

“Even though some of it is difficult to read, we hung onto it and tried to decipher it. The local historical society was then contacted since I believed they might be able to provide us with information on the important people,” he concluded.

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