Viscount Downe Ampney Park,Cirencester
to Richard Gurney, Esq., Thickthorn, Norwich
This is a small envelope enclosing a letter. In our experience, this is an early example of an actual envelope, (rather than a letter folded and sealed) as prior to the introduction of the Penny Post in 1840 this would constitute an enclosure and as such it would cost double the postage. This example has on the reverse a partial impression of a seal but the motto on the seal is too incomplete to decipher, (insert gurneyseal.jpg) but looks like it ends with RRANDO.
The postmark on the back of the envelope is a dated single circle 26 NO 26 1839 with a broken arc at the bottom of the circle with a letter A, in black ink.
On the front address panel of the envelope there is a crown FREE circular datestamp for 27 NO 27 1839 in red ink, of the type in use from 19.10.1839 to 4.1.1840. Because this is a Free Frank the writer had to put on the date and the place of lodging the letter and then sign the bottom left corner as the person who had this franking privilege. This signature although quite clearly written is not easy to read and even inside on the letter itself it is the same.
The letter enclosed is written on a small single sheet of heavy unwatermarked paper. The writer gives a clue to his identity as it was written at Ampney Park Cirencester, which at the time was a large country estate. This estate was advertised on the internet in 2021 as being for sale at 9.5 million pounds.
The writing is quite legible, and I have transcribed it as it was written. At that time the writers would often put a capital letter on some words, abbreviate words and put in an apostrophe, in this case using it instead of the letter e in words like thank’d instead of thanked.
Dear Gurney,I searched on the internet for information about the owner of Ampney Court, and it showed that it belonged to Viscount Downe which explains why he was entitled to Free postage, under specific conditions, and restrictions. For information about the franking privilege, follow this link to a section on our website. http://www.earsathome.com/webgil/free.html
Now for the addressee Richard Gurney, who was living at Thickthorn Hall. This information was obtained from this site Thickthorn Hall A Norfolk Village On The Web.html.
Thickthorn, or Thickham, is an ancient hamlet to the Town of Hethersett and takes its name from Alan de Thickelthorn who settled it on Roger de Thickelthorn in 1240. The 1799 map shows what appears to be a moat and buildings to the south of the present hall, and may indicate a possible site of the medieval house.
The hall remained in the possession of the Gurneys until c.1930.
Sources : "Herewith my Frank by J.M. Lovegrove"|
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