Bath Postal Museum
Bath Postal Museum
The museum traces the history of the postal service, including a recreation of a 19th century post office. The museum not only traces the history of the post within Britain, but looks at postal systems in ancient societies. There are displays on post boxes through the years, and a look at the life and times of key figures involved in the establishment of the British postal system, including Ralph Allen, Thomas Moore Musgrave, and John Palmer. There is a special collection about the earliest British system of post marks and stamps, with late 17th century letters bearing a 'Bishop mark', a stamp named for Henry Bishop, Postmaster-General under Charles II.
The oldest object on display is a clay tablet 'letter' dating to about 2000BC, and an Egyptian papyrus from around 1200BC. Modern by comparison are displays on Charlemagne, King of the Franks, who around 850AD revived the old Roman postal service in areas of his empire. Learn about the system of 'franking', which allowed nobility to send letters free of charge, and how this much-abused system came to an end in 1840 when Rowland Hill instituted the uniform penny postage service.