The Art of Letter Writing Online

Welcome to The Art of Letter Writing, an online project to create and celebrate the unique relationships we make with each other by writing and receiving letters.

What are the benefits of taking part?

Here are some of the ways that this project will benefit your wellbeing.

Stay connected

Writing letters is a way we can stay in touch and is a great way to better our social and mental wellbeing

Get creative

Dedicating time to be creative is great fun and can be a great way of relieving stress, relaxing and expressing ourselves

Keep learning

Learning is a great way to keep your brain active

Helping elderly isolated and vulnerable people

So far during the project, we have worked with 7 care homes across Nort-East Derbyshire.

Hello, and welcome to the project!

Welcome to The Art of Letter Writing Online.

During this project, we will look at the art of letter writing, the importance of historical letters and illuminated lettering. Throughout each section we will discuss a topic and then you will be guided through an activity that will encourage you to think, write and create.

How does the project work?
This project has been specially created to go online and anyone can take part. Whilst we’re physically distancing, what better time than now to connect with family and friends? It also means that you can work at your own pace and complete the steps in your own time.

Who can take part?
*Anyone can take part in this online project and we encourage all ages to get involved.
*Trigger warning: Some historical archive letters are from prisoners of war.

Who can I write to?
You can write to anyone during the project; family, friends, old colleagues, maybe school friends or friends from overseas. If you don’t have anyone to write to, don’t worry. We are also working with the more vulnerable and isolated members of our community, for example, residents of care and nursing homes. As well as sending out copies of the archive letters for staff to read out loud, and the initials for residents to decorate, we’re asking people who want to take part in the project to consider writing a letter to the residents. You can write about anything, it’s a wonderful way to share stories and experiences and it helps make residents feel part of the community in which they live. Who knows, it might even be the start of a friendship that lasts beyond the lockdown! Here is an example of a lovely letter written to residents of Hollybank Nursing Home in Creswell.
Letter written by Mrs Ingram . you Residents of Fullylove court have been receiving letters from a Farm in Nottinghamshire; here is one of the letters. A letter from The Farm, in Nottinghamshire. If you would like to write to a care home, please email

How can care homes get involved?
So far we have worked with seven care homes, The Vale in Bolsover, Normanton Lodge in South Normanton, East Clune in Clowne, Hollybank Nursing Home in Creswell, Richmond Care Home and New Bassett House in Shirebrook and Holmleigh in Navenby, Lincolnshire.

If you know anyone who resides at a care home or you’re a member of staff and would like your home to take part we would love to hear from you. We will send copies of the archive letters for you to share with residents, an illuminated initial for anyone who wants to take part and also stationery and stamps. Please contact

Can I get help with resources?
We will send copies of the archive letters for you if you are vulnerable, isolating or are struggling financially. We may be able to send an illuminated initial for anyone who wants to take part and also stationery and stamps. Please email

We would like to acknowledge our partners; the Bolsover Partnership and Cllr. Christine Dale for their support and The Derbyshire Record Office, for giving permission to publish the historic letters.

Let's get started!

The project has 3 parts, each with its own activity.
During the activities you will:
– Read and learn about historic letters
– Write a letter
– Decorate an illuminated initial

We suggest you work through the activities step by step for a unique look at letter writing. We hope that you will be inspired and will enjoy learning and creating as you go through the project.

We particularly want to support isolated, elderly and vulnerable people, so if you run a care home, we will send copies of the archive letters for you to share with residents, an illuminated initial for anyone who wants to take part and also stationery and stamps.

Please email if you want any of the resources posting or if you want to write to a care home resident.

Part 1: Historical letters

Written history

Letters have been playing a crucial part in history for thousands of years. The first ever handwritten letter was thought to have been sent by the Persian Queen Atossa in around 500 BC. Reading letters has played a significant part of understanding the past. When we look at old letters we can get a unique perspective of how people were living and what was happening during that time. Quite often when reading historical letters, we get a very intimate encounter of the writers feelings and perspectives that we might not get from looking at official documents and texts.

Activity 1
The Derbyshire Record Office have a wonderful collection of historical letters and have kindly allowed us to publish a few historic letters from their archive, all with a connection to Derbyshire.

Click on the buttons below to read letters from a prisoner of war, an old writer and a maid at the stately home. You can find out a little about the person who wrote the letters, see the original handwritten letters and also read a typed transcript. Sometimes the old handwriting can be hard to decipher!

Read Arnold H Doughty's letter, prisoner of war (1917/18)Read Elizabeth Winchester, lady’s maid letterRead letters from Schoolboys of St.Andrews Middle Class School, Derby (1882)Read the letter from Selina FitzHerbert (1824)

Part 2: Writing a letter

Now it’s your turn!
This is the part where we invite you to write a letter, to friends or family you’re missing at this time or to someone in your community.

There is something quite exciting about sending and receiving a letter. Firstly, it is very personal way of communicating with someone, especially if it is handwritten. It requires time, thought and effort which can really show someone that you care about them. When we receive a letter, we have the joy of seeing our name on a stamped envelope and the mystery of wondering what is written inside. It can really brighten someone’s day having a little surprise arrive in the mail.

Selina FitzHerbert, a family descendant of the late Selina FitzHerbert who’s letter we read in part 1, has written a letter to the archivist Karen Millhouse. The present Selina FitzHerbert discusses the letter written in 1824 and her support towards the project. She also shared with us a letter that she has written addressed to her brother. You can read both of the letters in the link below and perhaps it will inspire you to write your letter.

Read Selina FitzHerbert's letter

Although there are many ways to communicate with people these days, for example by sending emails and texts, there is something unique about a letter you can hold and keep. It gives the recipient the opportunity to cherish and keep your letter, to read over and over again. A letter develops a history of it’s own and in years to come it might remind us of what stamps were used, or maybe where you used to live or jog a memory of the day you received the letter. As we have seen from the historical letters, maybe the letter will be passed down through the generations and will bring joy for years to come.

Activity 2

  • Think of who you would like to write to (make sure you know their address!)
  • Before writing your letter, think about what you might want to write about. Will you write about your day and what you have been doing? Will you share your hopes and dreams, maybe you will use the page to write about yourself and let the other person get to know you better. Perhaps you would like to share how you feel, or what things you are experiencing right now. The choice is yours. You may want to draft a letter first, or you might just go for it and see where your thoughts take you! You may want to include your address on the letter, so that the other person can reply!
  • Pop it in an envelope with a stamp and send it. Will you let the recipient know it is on its way, or will you leave it to be a surprise?
  • If you’re writing a letter during the Coronavirus Pandemic you should take some precautions. Download and read the guidance document to help you, and the person you write to, stay safe.
    Click here to download the guidance document. If you want to write to someone new, we’re in touch with care homes across Bolsover District.
    If you want to do this, you will need to email and she will contact you.

Part 3: Illuminated Lettering

Illuminated letter
Illuminated letters were popular during the middle ages, before the time of the printing press. It was usually the first letter of a page or paragraph in a handmade manuscript. They were always enlarged and drawn with colourful inks, with gold or silver leaf applied in certain areas. The letters were enhanced with images and traditionally included animals, plants, and mythological creatures.

Activity 3

We have designed a whole new alphabet of beautiful decorated letters. Perhaps you would like to choose your initial to print and decorate yourself. When you’ve finished, you can display your artwork, maybe put it in a frame and hang it on your wall or give it to someone as a gift.
If you would like to share your finished artwork with us, you can do so on social media by tagging us @junctionartsUK

We know that isolation and loneliness can significantly affect peoples health and wellbeing.

Help Junction Arts to keep people connected in our local communities by supporting our work. Donating as little as £3 could pay for writing supplies for a vulnerable person, so they can stay connected during these times of need.

Make a donation

Click the letter from the list below to download the printable PDF.
The PDF will open on your screen. From the toolbar menu at the top of your internet browser window, you can click, File and print or save the image. Alternatively, you can right click the picture and choose to save or print the PDF this way.