Rowland Hill & the Penny Post

The Post Office celebrates this summer the grant of its charter of 1635, and if any one person or event stands out in the subsequent 350 years of the British mail service, it must surely be Rowland Hill and the introduction of the Penny Post in 1840. Since his death and burial in Westminster Abbey, Hill's self-image as a misunderstood prophet triumphing against adversity and ignorance to win acceptance of his ideas has been uncritically accepted, and when I came to write a new history of the Post Office since 1840, this standard interpretation derived from his justificatory autobiography had to be confronted.

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