Letter arrives 11 years late

WHEN barrister Charles Michell opened one of the letters lying on his doormat yesterday , he could hardly believe his eyes.It contained a card congratulating him on his performance as Sir Andrew Aguecheek, a part he had once played in a local production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.

WHEN barrister Charles Michell opened one of the letters lying on his doormat yesterday , he could hardly believe his eyes.

It contained a card congratulating him on his performance as Sir Andrew Aguecheek, a part he had once played in a local production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.

When Mr Michell looked at the postmark he was even more amazed. For the letter had been stamped in South West London at 8.1 pm on July 22 1994, just after the production.

The tatty, yellowed envelope was accompanied by a note from the Royal Mail apologising for its condition and the delay in delivery and the letter's for reasons “outside our control”.


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The card inside had been sent by two of Mr Michell's old friends, Mr and Mrs Ken Wharfe. Mr Wharfe is a former bodyguard to the late Princess Diana.

The address on the envelope, Linden House, Lambseth Street, Eye, was perfectly correct although the addressee was jokingly shown as “The Dishonourable Andrew Aguecheek, currently in lodging at the Mistress Michell.”

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Mr Michell, who is a district and county councillor, said Mr and Mrs Wharfe had attended one of the performances of Twelfth Night at Hoxne and had, apparently, posted a light-hearted note of congratulation shortly after returning to their London home.

It was “quite extraordinary” that the letter had been delivered after so many years although he could not imagine where it had been all that time.

“It bestows great credit on the Royal Mail because they could have just binned it to avoid any embarrassment,” Mr Michell said.

However, Royal Mail spokesman, James Taylor, said it was very unlikely that the letter had been in the Royal Mail system for nearly 12 years.

“It is just speculation, but it is much more likely that someone has just put it back into the system via a post box. Sometimes letters can get stuck to larger packages during the sorting process and someone could just have discovered it,” he said.

Mr James said the absence of a second postmark did not suggest the letter had, in fact, been in the Royal Mail system since 1994 as if the letter had been sorted by hand a further postmark would not have been used.

“There is nowhere it could have been in our system. Contrary to popular opinion we do not have piles of letters lying in the corners of attics waiting to be discovered,” he added.

Mr Wharfe could not be contacted for comment.

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