Friday, 9 September 2016

Postman's Park: Where London's Lost Heroes Live On

I paid my own airfare to the UK, and received discounted accommodation at the Ibis London Blackfriars.

When I was last in the UK in 2014, Narrelle Harris and I paid a visit to Postman's Park.

This small park near St Paul's Cathedral was given its name because it was established opposite the General Post Office building (later demolished in 1912).

It's notable not for its connections to postmen, however, but for its connections to heroes.


The park was opened in 1880 on the former churchyard of St Botolph's Aldersgate church, and was later expanded to take in churchyards from two demolished churches.

In 1900 it gained its unique central feature, the Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice erected by the artist George Frederic Watts.

The memorial takes the form of a long wall, on which are affixed ceramic tablets commemorating people who died while saving others.


It's a very moving place to visit. For a start, the park itself is green and quiet. Being a former churchyard, there are old gravestones placed by the sides, a sombre reminder of its original purpose.


The memorial wall itself is the highlight of the park. It's very touching to read the simple messages detailing noble sacrifices from a bygone age.

Several, for example, speak of people who were drowned while saving others, as you can see below:




Sadly, the project declined after the death of Watts' widow Mary in 1938, with the last memorials of that era erected in 1931.

In 2009, however, the wall saw a new tablet added in memory of a man who'd died after rescuing a drowning boy in a canal in 2007. It remains to be seen whether more memorials will follow.

Next time you're in central London, take a moment to visit Postman's Park. It's one of those quiet corners of the great metropolis in which you can sit and catch your breath, and its stories of noble sacrifice are inspiring.

Postman's Park is located next to 1 St Martin's Le Grand, London, with entrances from St Martin's Le Grand and King Edward Street. Find more details at postmanspark.org.uk.