Gloucestershire has featured on many a postage stamp down the years, most recently in 2019 when the Cooper’s Hill cheeseroll was included in a collection titled Curious customs.

If you are a fan of philately you may have in your collection the series issued in May 2008 by the Royal Mail that pictured the interiors of British cathedrals, including Gloucester’s.

The others were Lichfield, Belfast, Westminster, St David’s in Pemrokeshire and St Magus’s cathedral, Orkney.

With a face value of 50p, the Gloucester stamp captures the awe-inspiring sight up the cathedral’s nave from the west end towards the organ loft and chancel, lined by mighty Norman pillars that rise to the Early English roof.

Gloucester Cathedral

In 1822 Gloucester’s Post Office was located in a terraced house in a square facing St Aldate’s churchyard and at that time postmen wore a Guards-like red tunic and black stove pipe hat. From 1847 the Post Office was situated in the Tolsey, a grand and ornate civic building that stood on the corner of Westgate and Southgate Streets.

When the Tolsey was demolished in 1892 the Post Office took up residence in the Southgate Street corn exchange.

Then in June 1934 Gloucester Post Office acquired purpose-built premises in King’s Square, where it remains to this day.

Cheltenham Flyer

The Cheltenham Flyer was one of five famous British trains chosen by the Royal Mail to appear on a series of postage stamps in 1985.

It had a face value of 29p, while its fellows in the series were the Flying Scotsman (17p), Golden Arrow (22p), Royal Scot (31p) and Cornish Riviera (34p).

All the stamps were commissioned from the artist Terence Cuneo.

Edward Jenner

For the millennium the Royal Mail issued a special collection of stamps based on great British discoveries. This included Dr Edward Jenner, the Berkeley born scientist who developed a vaccination for smallpox while living and working in Cheltenham.

Another local connection with philately is Evelyn Arthur Smythies (1885-1975), who was a pupil at Cheltenham College.

His lifelong interest in the subject, coupled with a career in the overseas civil service, resulted in Smythies producing many a learned tome considered highly collectable by stamp enthusiasts to this day.

Cheese Rolling

Among them are such titles as “The four annas Lithographed Stamps of India 1854-55”, “The Postage Stamps of Jammu and Kashmir Simplified” and the intriguing “Canadian Fancy Cancellations of the 19th Century”.

The world’s first postage stamp, the Penny Black, was issued in Britain in 1840. Forty years before that date Cheltenham’s first Post Office opened at 127, High Street.

Its post mistress was a woman of riper years named Sally Saunders who was also the entire delivery team.

Once asked why it took five or six days for a letter posted in Cheltenham to reach another destination in the town, Ms Saunders replied that she had better things to do than carry post all over the place.

Tewkesbury has featured on at least two Royal Mail stamps. In 1971 one was issued to commemorate the 850 anniversary of the Abbey, which was consecrated on 23 October 1121.

Then on 28 February 2008 the post office brought out a series of stamps called the Houses of Lancaster and York.

Battle of Tewkesbury

The one that would at the time have cost you 78p over the counter portrayed a scene from the Battle of Tewkesbury.

The first record of a Postmaster in Tewkesbury dates from 1781, although the town certainly had a postal service before then. The Postmaster in question was John Pearse, who seems to have been an 18th century wide boy.

On appointment at that time Postmasters were required to pay a bond of £400, which was forfeited if they lost Post Office money either by incompetence or fraud.

John Pearse somehow managed to avoid paying the bond, so when a discrepancy of £81 was discovered in the books, he was ordered to pay off the sum at £20 a year.

Soon afterwards the Inland Revenue nipped at Pearse’s heels as he owed £300 in unpaid tax. He was unable to pay, so the bailiffs arrived to cart off all Pearse’s worldly goods, which sold for £130, still leaving him deep in the red. Despite these financial challenges, Tewkesbury’s Postmaster remained in his post, which suggests that the job was never easy to fill.

Painswick Post Office

During the 19th century letters were delivered by post boys who were paid £46 a year and by the end of Queen Victoria’s reign a dozen were employed in Tewkesbury.

The Post Office was then found at 19, Church Street where the Post Mistress was Mary Spurrier. The service was remarkably good, with four deliveries to Tewkesbury addresses on weekdays and two on Sundays.

Gloucester Old Spot Pig

In about 1900 the Post Office moved to 98, Church Street. Opening hours were 7am until 8.30pm and in 1930 two telegramme delivery boys on Post Office red bikes pedalled off as far as Chaceley and Eldersfield with urgent messages.

In 1992 a series of stamps was issued depicting picturesque Post Offices. Painswick’s featured, though has since been closed.

Chipping Campden

At the time, Painswick’s Post Office was housed in a building older than any other Post Office in the country.

Other stamps with a county connection include one titled Chipping Campden from the Royal Mail’s British Journey series of 2006 and the Gloucester Old Spots pig from the Farm animal series of 2012.

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