I am grateful to Susan Cooper for spotting that the postbox in the wall outside Charles Dickens’ house, Gads Hill, near Rochester, was brought back into service by Royal Mail yesterday after years of disuse.
In today’s celebrity culture we may be forgiven for thinking that the celebrity phenomenon is something invented only recently but it appears the Victorians were every bit as prone to it as we are. Dickens apparently heard that it was possible to get one’s own mailbox and determined to have one. Using his celebrity influence he managed to arrange for a box to be sited in the wall at his home near Rochester rather than at other locations under consideration.
Was this undue influence? Or was it a pragmatic decision by the Post Office in the light of the prodigious volume of correspondence Dickens maintain – writing more than 10,000 letters during his lifetime?
Either way it is fitting that Trollope’s great contribution to our national postal service should once again be making its presence felt at Gads Hill – parking his proverbial tank on the lawn of his great rival!