The unique Suffolk postbox that tells a scandalous tale
- Credit: Melanie Brighton
A red postbox in the isolated Suffolk village of Bawdsey serves as a rare reminder of one of the biggest scandals in royal history.
The traditional postbox, which sits opposite the village hall is one of the very few installed during the reign of Britain's shortest reigning monarch, Edward VIII.
Son of George V, Edward ascended to the throne in 1936, but only reigned for 325 days before abdicating due to his desire to marry Wallis Simpson, a twice divorced American socialite.
Suffolk found itself at the heart of the scandal as Mrs Simpson's divorce took place in Ipswich and she had to live in Felixstowe for six weeks - with the king visiting her under cover of darkness.
Robert Cole, spokesperson for the Letter Box Study Group said "It's a very valuable postbox and my favourite one in the country."
"When a postbox is commissioned it has the reigning monarch's cypher engraved.
"Postboxes like this one are very rare because Edward VIII was only on the throne for a short period of time. More than half of the post boxes in the county bear Elizabeth II's cypher, because she has reigned for so long."
He continued: "What is great about it, but also makes it vulnerable is that it is a special type of postbox called a Ludlow, which tended to be installed in post offices.
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"What makes this one unique is that it has Edwards Cypher on it. It has a lot of heritage value.
"The house it is in is a converted post office. Unlike most post boxes it opens from the back, so the postmistress could access it without having to go outside."
However, Mr Cole said its location could be a risk to its wellbeing.
"The front fascia is made of enamel on metal, and it rusts.
"All postboxes near the sea are more vulnerable, if they're on promenades, even pillar boxes rot away to nothing.
"The rest of it is made of wood, which rots, and is susceptible to fire.
"Another reason this type of boxes are vulnerable is that the post offices they are located in are often converted into houses, and there is a grey area about who owns the box in that case.
"Royal Mail might try to put up a fuss, but if the owner wants to remove it, it's hard to stop.
"The former post office in Bawdsey came up for sale a few years ago — I considered buying it for the postbox."