First Class Stamps

One of my personal highlights of this year’s celebration of the tercentenary of the birth of the great landscape gardener “Capability” Brown has been the inclusion of Highclere Castle on a Royal Mail Stamp. It was long in the planning and had to be kept confidential which was difficult as I was so excited.  Professor Tim Mowl was the landscape expert helping to draw together the chosen few and I have thoroughly enjoyed working with him and the Royal Mail.

 

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The postmen are part of our lives, their shorts sometimes worthy of comment in winter weather and one of them is even playing in the brass band on the lawns here next Saturday at the Vintage Garden Party.  As he dropped off the post we discussed the musical repertoire.

The Royal Mail dates back to 1516, when Henry VIII (he of the many wives) established a “Master of the Posts.”  In 1635 King Charles I expanded it into a public service. Originally the receiver paid for the post but in 1840 the world’s first stamp, the Penny Black, was created which made the sender pay – a much fairer system. These days Mail coaches have been replaced by red vans and the Royal Mail has been thoroughly modernised, although our lovely red pillar boxes still exist.  The postmen and women travel through the community: real people delivering real items rather than the cloudy world of internet messages or texts.

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Stamps draw me back through the years to when I used to collect them as a child, possibly less out of a burning interest in them per se and more because my father had, in his turn, collected them when he was young.

Just before writing this blog I looked out the “Strand Album” and found a letter in the front from my grandfather – it was a Christmas present in 1940 “with love from Dad”.

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I have added some stamps to the album but hold it more as a memento: reading it, I sink back in time  and am  sitting in our old drawing room in London next to my father….

Curiously, some 30 or so years ago, my father was, for a while, Chairman of Stanley Gibbons, the well known stamp collecting specialists.

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I hope that, in spirit, he might be entertained by fact that my husband and I now have our “own” stamp. In turn we and our fellow lucky Capability Brown house owners have been much amused by working out who got a first class stamp and who was a parcel or a postcard.

Royal Mail Highclere Castle Stamp launch Earl of Carnarvon, George Herbert, and Countess of Carnarvon, Lady Fiona at Highclere Castle. August 3 2016. Royal Mail

 

Comments
44 Responses to “First Class Stamps”
  1. David says:

    I really love the way you always give the historical background for your stories. And speaking of “Capability” Brown, his name and Highclere were both the subject of a BBC broadcast last week. My clock/radio is set on PBS and goes off at 5:30 AM eastern U.S. time and as soon as I heard “Highclere” mentioned, I immediately started listening. I usually don’t respond that quickly. An aside, how do you get your dogs to pose so regally?

    • Lady Carnarvon says:

      Alfie, the labrador in the photo, is good at posing and very responsive! The spaniels have far short attention spans..

  2. Jane says:

    My brother, several years older than I, got me interested in stamp collecting. Some years later I realised I could not collect all the stamps in the world, so settled on the British stamps. He went with the British colonial stamps. Throughout the years I have loved getting the first day covers of sets. They have been beautiful, innovative, quirky and heartwarming. Wonderful memories of life passing by. I am so glad High Clere was chosen. For Downton Abbey aficionados, stamp collectors will have something to cherish long into their dotage. Thank you for this and Congratulations!

  3. Lady Carnarvon says:

    It is rather amazing – I am hugely grateful to Tim Mowl -he is the real expert and writer about landscapes.

  4. Natalie Graham says:

    That is so cool that Highclere is part of a collection of stamps! Love the story about your Dad and his father. Stamps can be very utilitarian, but more often than not they are little masterpieces of art, and the gorgeous landscapes of Capability Brown are definitely masterpieces. The bit about who got what class of postage made me smile. 🙂

    Thank you for another fascinating post, Lady Carnarvon!

  5. Denise Miller says:

    My grandfather (a WWII veteran) gave me my stamp collecting book 50 years ago. I still have it and, being British-born, many of the stamps are from Britain. Where might I obtain the collection you have pictured? Will there be individual stamps available other than the grouping?
    I must say how much I enjoy your blog and hope to visit Highclere Castle on my next trip “home”.

  6. Paula says:

    How delightful! I am so happy that I found your blog…only by accident. I suggested our book club, here in
    Tulsa, Oklahoma, read your book on Almina, and I am going to be reviewing it for them in Nivember. While looking up additional information about you and Highclere, I ran across your blog. I will be sharing this with them and I am sure you will gain more readers “across the pond.” Your book about Lady Catherine is on my list.

  7. Paula says:

    How delightful! I am so happy that I found your blog…only by accident. I suggested our book club, here in Tulsa, Oklahoma, read your book on Almina, and I am going to be reviewing it for them in November. While looking up qadditional information about you and Highclere, I ran across your blog. I will be sharing this with them and I am sure you will gain more readers “across the pond.” Your book about Lady Catherine is on my list.

  8. Paula says:

    How delightful! I am so happy that I found your blog…only by accident. I suggested our book club, here in Tulsa, Oklahoma, read your book on Almina, and I am going to be reviewing it for them in November. While looking up additional information about you and Highclere, I ran across your blog. I will be sharing this with them and I am sure you will gain more readers “across the pond.” Your book about Lady Catherine is on my list.

  9. Dianne Wasgatt says:

    Thank you again for an interesting post. I love English history and increasing my knowledge of how things began. Congratulations on Highclere being included. I’m sure it was very hard to keep it a secret .
    When will the stamps be available to buy from the post office? I too collected stamps when I was younger and still have my albums.

  10. David Charles DuBois says:

    Such a wonderful way to memorialize Capability Brown and this magnificent structure that is Highclere Castle. You must be so proud. I am greatful to Julian Fellows for introducing the World to your beautiful home. This experience has opened our eyes and hearts to the history that is Highclere and Downtom Abbey. If it wasn’t for Julian We/I would never have been so privileged as to knowing about you Lady and Lord Carnavon and Highclere Castle. My wish to you is continued success with the castle and all that entails. I hope to visit someday soon on my next holiday to London. Cheers!

  11. JoAnn Anderson says:

    I enjoy your posts so much. Have always loved PBS. Across the pond, I live in Florida. Thank you for sharing your lives with us.

  12. Sandy Lee says:

    Congratulations on receiving this well deserved honor. Just another entry in the history of Highclere. And now the bragging rightss begin.. You have to smile and give it a chuckle.

  13. Linda Green says:

    So love your blog and look forward to it as well as the pictures you add. Please keep doing everything so many people enjoy your stories especially since Amy like me will never get the chance to visit you and Highclere

  14. Chrissy says:

    Alfie is a great poser! Now I’ve seen it all – your very own stamp – LOve It! Not familiar with your postal system – is that a First Class Stamp? Congrats!

  15. Amy Hunt says:

    This is so wonderful! I loved the stamps, which my father collected, and so, for a little while, I collected first day issued commemorative stamps for my two eldest children. Now, I just enjoy beautiful or historic stamps as I use them on my mail. I would love to have Highclere’s stamp! Is there a way to purchase it from afar? I’m guessing that Google knows.
    Beautiful stamp and picture of you two!

  16. Bernard Seto says:

    Dear Lady Carnarvon,

    Where can we buy a first day cover of this landscape stamp that featured Highclere Castle in the background ? How I wish that there will be another
    hardcover book after “Downton Abbey–A Celebration”, this time the book should include all the nice commemorative , souvenirs , artwork of infinite
    varieties….

    Please reply.

  17. Marilyn Slagel says:

    Love, love, love this! I plan to Google it and purchase some stamps for the postcards I brought back to the U.S. as keepsakes.

  18. Jan Hammersmith says:

    How impressive!
    May I ask how true to the original landscaping plans created by Mr Brown, are the grounds today? I have always loved his work.
    Thanks in advance….

  19. Alison says:

    I adore the way “dogs rule” at Highclere Castle. My castle isn’t exactly worthy of a first-class stamp, but “dogs rule” here just the same. Another enjoyable blog; thank you, Milady!

  20. Barbara Aker says:

    What a great story! I was just at High Clere a year ago and so enjoyed the whole day on your estate and touring the castle. And I was a letter carrier in the United States until I retired a year and a half ago after 28 years with the US Postal Service. I can understand about wearing shorts when the weather is a little bit cooler because it’s just so much easier and comfortable. Cheers to a wonderful fall season to you!

  21. Jeannie Facemire says:

    My spouse, and best friends got to visit Highclere last week. What an incredible experience to see it in person. We dressed up and felt so special being on the grounds so beautifully depicted on the stamp. But the real highlight was to have actually had the distinct pleasure in briefly meeting Lady Carnarvon! Congrats on the stamp it is truly wonderful and I will need to acquire one to frame. More over, I love your commentary on its creation and the stamp collecting.

    Thank you for sharing these tidbits and your other comments on the blog. I totally enjoy reading them and agree the above picture of you and the Earl and Alfie is great. We hope to return one day, and join in some festivity as we missed the Garden Party. Till then I will continue to enjoy your updates and wish you the very best. Please pass a US hello to Luis C.

  22. Janet says:

    Thank you for a great post! I love that stamp and though I rarely collect stamps I think I would like to have that one! Can anyone tell me how to obtain it?

    • Dianne Wasgatt says:

      Janet I went on line and ordered a set through the Royal Mail in England . I live in Phoenix, Arizona, hopefully I should get them in 7-10 days. Good luck. Dianne

  23. Helena Conacher says:

    Lady Carnarvon, I had the opportunity to meet Alfie and yourself in person last year on a trip to Highclere. It was a thrill and to my amusement no one had told Alfie that he was not the one leading the tour of the house. You lead him away with a request that you needed his help with work on the computer.
    Congratulations on the stamp and much continued success.

  24. Nancy says:

    What a pretty stamp. I love the back story. Another honor for you and your castle. Well done.

  25. Jeanie fulfer says:

    Love to read your blogs. Was at the castle last week with the Viking Cruise Gang. Enjoyed your comments so much. Glad to be close enough to enjoy your comments, since I am “height deprived”.you are very lovely. Came home to the USA and ordered both of you books. Cheers!

  26. Jeanie fulfer says:

    Love to read your blogs. Was at the castle last week with the Viking Cruise Gang. Glad to be close enough to enjoy your comments, since I am “height deprived”.you are very lovely. Came home to the USA and ordered both of you books. Cheers!

  27. Stella says:

    Thank you for another wonderful blog post. It seems like you can jump from one subject to another and always entertain us and teach us. Include me in with info on how we can get your first day cover or stamp. Both my parents worked as mail carriers and influenced me to collect stamps. Here I am in my “older” years and still interested in mint and first day covers! Have a good time until we meet again in your post.

  28. Carol Sawyer says:

    Congratulations!!

  29. Gerri Munson says:

    So excited I just ordered it through your Royal Mail! I ordered the stamps and packs of post cards for Christmas presents 🙂 I am so glad you shared it.

  30. Mary Beth says:

    Congratulations! Well done! What a beautiful stamp. I’m very happy for you and your husband. It is well deserved as you have both worked very hard to preserve your land and gardens. I will be sure to tell all of my friends about your stamp. My co-workers see Highclere Castle every day, because I have a picture of it on my locker and the husband of one of my friend’s is a long time postman!

    Kind Regards
    Mary Beth

  31. Sophie Lamping says:

    Congratulations to you both ! Having your own stamp ! And in relation to your father’s past it is very nice as well.He would be proud .
    I loved to read that the Royal Mail dates back to Henry the VIII th reign !
    A lovely blogpost alltogether ; thank you Lady Carnarvon,

    Kind Regards ,

    Sophie Lamping.

  32. Sophie says:

    Congratulations !! Well done !! Your own stamp !! You have earned it
    Bravo!
    Love
    Sophie

  33. Diane Clavareau says:

    Wonderful post on Capability Brown and Royal Mail. I enjoyed it. My father and grandfather collected stamps and I gave them to one of my sons. Hope he did not loose them somewhere during his numerous movings… And concerning Capability Brown, I heard his name already before. Especially during my visit to Kent end of April. Leeds, Chartwell, Sissinghurst, Scotney, etc… I enjoyed it. Thank you for your vivid “reportages”.

  34. Jean says:

    What a fabulous story – congratulations! I loved your memory of your father’s collection and now having your own for posterity.

  35. Jean says:

    P.S. Always love seeing you and your husband together. You are a beautiful couple.

  36. Lorraine Greenfield says:

    Yet again another wonderful post, loved the photo of you, Lord Carnarvon and Alfie, and the beautiful Highclere in the background.

  37. Helena Conacher says:

    I had the opportunity to meet Alfie last year at this time. What a sweet gentle boy. Although it did take some convincing that he was not the one leading the house tour. Congratulations on your stamp.

  38. Mauree Shea says:

    This is fantastic news! So happy that anyone can order these lovely stamps. Just left London after our Downton Abbey Tour! We were so thrilled to have met you Lady Carnarvon by sheer chance.
    You were so kind to us. We loved speaking to you
    and we cannot wait to read your newest book that you are working on, recipes, pictures and all !!
    Once again you were so gracious to take time out
    Of your busy schedule to chat with your fans from Boston, Ma USA
    Most Sincerely,
    Maureen S.

  39. Ruth HendryRennie says:

    Thank-you Lady Carnarvon, I always enjoy your wonderful posts! I live in the backcountry ( MacKenzie Country) of New Zealand and our wonderful rural postman, that we all treasure here, is our lifeblood still! I get no cell phone reception where I live ( I can get it if I travel 2km’s up the road to the stock yards. Very odd indeed, to be carrying a phone in one hand on a horse or in my car hoping for some reception!) and I only get an internet connection because I live close to the village school! I arrived here a couple of years ago with two cells phones, one for work and one for personal use and a gear2 computer watch and a bag full of designer clothes and shoes… But that’s another story…
    Of course, I had to attend church and was put on to the duty of collecting used stamps for the mission!
    Which to date we have made four thousand dollars…. and I have learnt that you must leave when cutting a stamp from an envelope a 1 cm broader around the stamp! It’s a mission to collect stamps properly and over the last few years, I have learnt a lot about the history of stamps as the chairman of the church vestry ( Mr Bennett) is an avid stamp collector ( as my father was) and also the longest serving councillor on a local board in New Zealand!
    I have been privileged to see his four odd black penny stamps.
    The new British stamps are the talk of the town here at the moment and if you have a spare minute could you please sent a postcard to me with your stamp on it so I can put it into the Anglican Mission stamp collection! The address is Mr Ray Bennett, Co Ruth, Albury School House, RD14, CAVE 7984 South Canterbury NEW ZEALAND.
    The vestry and Church would be so gratefully to receive this from the motherland. I will return by mail a First Day Cover New Zealand stamp to you.
    Blessing Ruth

  40. Linda Olds says:

    What a beautiful picture of Highclere on the stamp! The picture of you and your husband holding a representation of the stamp is charming, as is the story of stamp collecting going back from you to your father and grandfather.

  41. john says:

    I think the picture of the two of you with the stamp is lovely but who are the two people behind your shoulder ?

    Love the stamp

    John

  42. Rosanna Celocia says:

    Dear Lady Canarvon,
    Today I am the happy owner of Highclere Castle stamp, I only need one stamp but I decided to buy few pieces and I was delighted to Highclere Castle garden. I been wanting to visit your home and the beautiful garden but the Capability Brown architectural walk was fully booked , myself and my boyfriend who is an architect himself were so interested apart from being a fan of Downton Abbey. We love visiting historic stately and garden home and Highclere is very much on our list, so hopefully we will make it there this Autumn. Thanks you for sharing your house to the public to enjoy.

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