A 15 part series of programs under the title "The People's Post: A Narrative History of the Post Office" is underway on BBC Radio 4. It explores the development of the Royal Mail, an institution tracing origins back to Henry VIII.
The first episode, The Secret Room, covered the origins of the postal service and how, during the English Civil War and Cromwell's interegnum the postal network became an important instrument of state control. In a secret room deep in the post office building, agents opened and copied letters from suspected dissidents on a grand scale.
A Culture of Letters
The Mail Coach