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A Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice in the Heart of Central London

A Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice in the Heart of Central London | OneTravel, photo: Chris Osburn

Postman’s Park is a City of London park located just a short walk from St Paul’s Cathedral. It is bordered by the evocatively named streets Little Britain, Aldersgate Street/St Martin’s Le Grand and King Edward Street, as well as the site of the former head office of the General Post Office.

The park opened in 1880 on the site of the former churchyard and burial ground of St Botolph’s Aldersgate church. Over the decades to follow, the park expanded into the adjacent burial grounds of St Leonard, Foster Lane and Christ Church Greyfriars, as well as the site of housing demolished during the widening of Little Britain in 1880.

Postman’s Park takes its name from its original proximity to the old General Post Office. It was a popular spot for postal workers to take their breaks and have lunch. These days, you might see some local workers or an occasional tourist. But often enough it’s empty. With a lovingly manicured and smartly landscaped garden, a babbling koi pond and plenty of benches in the sun or shade, it’s a wonderful place to sit and reflect for awhile and serves as a bit of a relaxing oasis amidst the hustle and bustle of the big city.

Another, more representative, name for this sweet little park, might be heroes’ corner, as what really makes this place special is the wall commemorating the brave acts of otherwise ordinary people who died while trying to save the lives of others in peril.

In 1900, the park became the location for George Frederic Watts’s Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice, a memorial to ordinary people who died saving the lives of others and might otherwise have been forgotten, in the form of a loggia and wall of ceramic memorial tablets. When the memorial open there were only four memorial tablets in place. Today, there are over 100. After Watts passed on in 1904, his wife Mary took over the memorial’s management and oversaw the installation of more tablets in the following four years, as well as a small monument to her husband.

Postman’s Park is open seven days a week all year long from 8am to 7pm or dusk (whichever is earlier). Farringdon Station (rail and Underground), Barbican Underground Station and St Paul’s Underground Station are all three just a few minutes walk away.

 

Photo: Chris Osburn

 

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