Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Burnham Skeletons

Burnham had a number of skeleton postmarks.  Here are three examples of "BURNHAM / SOMERSET" which was in use between 26th August and 31st December 1909.

And here is an example of "BURNHAM / SOM" from 2nd May 1910, a previously unrecorded period of use.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Burnham RSO and SO

Burnham was made a Railway Sub-Office (R.S.O.) on the 1st December 1887.  This lasted until August 1905 when the terminology in the Post Office changed and it became a Sub Office / Post Town (S.O.).

The double circle double-arc RSO cancel was in use beyond 1905 and then the cancel was altered to remove the "R." of "R.S.O.".

On the 2nd August 1917 Burnham became Burnham-on-Sea.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013


Burnham was in the Bridgwater Penny Post from 1835.  It is thought that it may have had the "No.7" Receiving House cancel - the example from my earlier post may show this as the entire below was written in Burnham, although it then went via Cross and Wells rather than directly to Bridgwater.  Bridgwater was Burnham's Post Town until 1887.

Here is a fairly faint UDC handstamp used in 1843, of the form "BURNHAM-SOMST". An earlier UDC with just "BURNHAM" in a serif font was registered in 1836 but has not been seen outside of the Post Office Archives.
A double-arc dated "BURNHAM" cancel was registered in September 1849.
Skipping over a number of cancels that I don't have, we eventually get to the squared circle cancel.  I've already posted up a couple of example here, but this is a nice clear example from 1900.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Post Office Circulars

Here is a scan of the Post Office Circular for 28th September 1874 which announced Wiveliscombe (and Milverton) becoming R.S.O.s (towards the bottom of the Circular), as well as Bampton (Tiverton) and Bishop's Lydeard (under Taunton).  The scan is courtesy of Ken Smith who took the photocopy at the Post Office Archives, this being one of the sources of information for his Post Office lists.

The Post Office Circulars were weekly instructions to postmasters, and the last Issue of each month appears to list changes taking place on the First of the next month, including Offices to become MO-SB (Money Order - Savings Bank) or Telegraph Offices, and changes to postal addresses.

Wiveliscombe - part 4

Wiveliscombe was made a Railway Sub-Office (R.S.O.) in October 1874, and remained one until 1905 when the "R.S.O." terminology was abandoned, when it became a Sub-Office/Post Town.

The "WIVELISCOMBE R.S.O. / SOMERSET" cancel remained in use after 1905 (see the first item below).
 It was eventually replaced with a "WIVELISCOMBE - S.O. / SOMERSET" double-circle, double-arc cancel - here are two examples used in 1914 and 1915.
 In November 1919 Wiveliscombe came under Taunton again - here is a "WIVELISCOMBE / TAUNTON.SOM" cancel from 1942.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Wiveliscombe - part 3

A series of three covers cancelled numeric obliterators.  This first cover from 1857 has the Wiveliscombe "903" cancel, with a manuscript "overweight 2d" and a large manuscript "2" charge on the front. 
 The next cover, from 1858, has the Dunster "778" obliterator and has a dated "WIVELISCOMBE" double-arc cancel on the reverse.
The third cover, from 1860, has the Wiveliscombe "903" obliterator and a Wiveliscombe double-arc dated cancel on the reverse.  The Printed Stationery Card has a "WIVELISCOMBE" single ring cancel from 1893.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Wiveliscombe - part 2

The introduction of a Bristol-Taunton-Barnstaple coach in 1827 meant that all mail to/from Wiveliscombe was routed through Taunton.  This led to complaints from Mr. Hancock (a solicitor in Wiveliscombe) that his mail to the west went eastwards to Taunton on one coach and then back out again on another.

As a result of this, in 1829 Wiveliscombe was made a Bye-Office of Taunton so letters were charged at the General Post Rate.

In 1829 the Wiveliscombe mileage mark was replaced with an undated circular handstamp.  This handstamp also exists in blue according to the British County Catalogue.  Note the spelling "WIVELISCOMB" - perhaps they just ran out of room !
The next cancel, from1841 is a dated circular cancel.  The BCC just has this in red, but the example below is in black.
This entire has a Taunton Penny Post unboxed "No.6" handstamp on the front. The No.6 Receiving House in the Taunton Penny Post has been identified as Williton.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013


Firstly an introduction from Pigot's 1844 Directory of Somerset - the proposed etymology of "Wiveliscombe" seems a little unlikely !
Wiveliscombe did not have an official postal service until 1804, having just an unofficial one from Wellington.  An Official Receiver was appointed in 1804 and the mileage mark "WIVELISCOMBE/175" is known from 1805.  This first entire has "not to be found" written on the front.  It was the practice to return undelivered letters to the sender, although concerns were raised in Parliament over the legality of charging the sender for the postage.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Glastonbury Penny Post

Courtesy of a fellow member of the S&DPHG, here are some scans of items from the Glastonbury Penny Post.  More information on the Glastonbury PP will be appearing in a future S&DPHG Journal.
Receiving House No.1 was at Ashcott.

Receiving House No.2 was at Street.

Receiving House No.3 was at Shapwick.  According to the BCC there is also a boxed "No.3 handstamp.
No examples of a "No.4" handstamp have been found but it is believed that it was at Walton.

Receiving House No.5 was at Butleigh (or maybe a nearby Baltonsborough). The known examples of this handstamp are evenly split between the two places.  Information in the Post Office Archives implies that the Receiving House was set up in Butleigh but with the land between the two villages liable to flood and with the River Brue inbetween it seems unlikely that either village would use the other's Receiving House. Perhaps the messenger took the "No.5" handstamp with him or it was applied at Glastonbury on his return ?

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Somerton - part 3

After the introduction of the Uniform Penny Post some of the earlier handstamps continued in use.  Here is an entire from 1843 with a "SOMERTON" dated ciruclar handstamp with a boxed "No.2" handstamp from Street.  Street was the No.2 Receiving House in the Glastonbury Penny Post, but was also in the Somerton Penny Post, at least for mail going in that direction.
And finally some more modern marks from Somerton (skipping over a few handstamps in the BCC that I don't have) - some nice squared circle handstamps from 1904 and 1909:
And an official OHMS cover to the Netherlands with an 8p machin cancelled with a single ring "SOMERTON / SOMERSET" cancel dated 28th August 1975.