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London’s Secret, Postman’s Park Reveals Memorials of Heroic Self Sacrifice.

Updated on January 14, 2015

Watts Memorial - Postman's Park London

Watts Memorial
Watts Memorial | Source

Postman's Park

It’s probable your London hotel concierge won’t know where Postman’s Park is.

I’ve asked several times in various hotels only to receive a blank stare and shake of the head.

This lovely green space is rarely mentioned in tourist brochures.

Taxi drivers just may know the venue.

Why this place is so overlooked is a mystery. It isn’t hidden away in some obscure part of London, it’s around the corner from St Paul’s Cathedral…

Clearly this is a bustling busy part of town although the park is a haven of serenity.

It also has an intriguing and emotional history.

Haunting Heroes

The History

Here’s what makes this small park so different and worth visiting.

Hidden away in a corner, under a wooden awning are over 50 plaques dedicated to heroic people who tragically died attempting to save another life.

These are haunting and heartrending memorials dedicated to humble, brave and courageous people, ordinary people who made the ultimate sacrifice.

memorian
memorian | Source

Captions

Above -

Alice Ayres, daughter of a bricklayer - labourer, who by intrepid conduct saved three children from a burning house at the cost of her own young life. April 24th 1885.

Not always politically correct for 2015 but still meaningful...

John Cranmer Cambridge – aged 23 drowned near Ostend whilst saving the life of a stranger and foreigner. August 8 1901.

George F Watts - The Beginning


On the fifth of September 1887 George Frederick Watts wrote to the Times newspaper. He proposed a scheme to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria.

He envisaged a covered way with marble plaques dedicated to unsung heroes who gave their lives for others. He suggested this be established in Hyde Park.

His suggestion was dismissed. Despite this setback he and his wife Mary worked tirelessly. The result was the Watts Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice here in Postman’s park.

Sparing no expense the first four memorials consisted of hand painted and glazed ceramic tiles designed by William de Morgan.

Only nine more tablets were added before Watts died in 1904. Mary Watts took over the project.

When Morgan closed his ceramic business in 1907 Mary Watts turned to Royal Dalton. She was not totally happy with the results and the next batch of tiles were placed unceremoniously under the original ones.

Following the death of Mary in 1938 the project was abandoned. Only 52 of the intended 120 spaces filled. Since the there have been numerous attempts to add new names and plaques, to little avail.Only one new tablet has been added.

In June 2007 Leigh Pitt, a print technician drowned rescuing a nine year old girl. His colleague suggested to the Diocese of London a memorial tablet in commemoration of his bravery.

In June 2009, 78 years after the last memorial was added, his tablet was installed.

He's my brother

Source

School friends

Source

Self Sacrifice

Source

The material prosperity of a nation is not an abiding possession: the deeds of its people are – George Frederick Watts.

Inspired by George and Mary Watts and their work I contacted several London dignitaries including the Lord Mayor, Boris Johnson.

My quest was for the project to be re-examined and possibly re-instated – or at least be made more accessible and cared for.

Sadly, all in vain, no one showed interest or desire to consider the idea.

Would you like to see the tributes at Postman's Park continue and be updated?

See results
A markerpostman's park london -
Postman's Park, Saint Martin's Le-Grand, London EC1A, UK
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Why the name Postman's Park?

The name Postman’s Park was acquired because workers from a nearby General Post Office always used the park for relaxation at lunchtime.

Prior to being a park it was a cemetery. A Royal commission had discovered that cemeteries in London were absolutely overcrowded. So extreme was the lack of space for burials that to bury another body meant cutting through an old one. This was rectified by several large cemeteries opening outside of central London.

In 1858 it was decided to clear the graves and make way for parkland.

Having lunch under the awning at Postman's Park

Source

Chuch of St Botolph

St Botolph Church.

This historic church underwent several restorations during the 19th and 20th centuries. You'll find it at Postman’s park and it is well worth a visit.

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    • SheilaMilne profile image

      SheilaMilne 2 years ago from Kent, UK

      Funnily enough I was there quite recently. It's a lovely little oasis in the midst of a very built up area. I love that about London - you come across all sorts of fascinating places.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you for sharing this Maj. I think it is a shame that the continuation of adding plaques to commemorate the brave who lost their own lives saving others is not being taken up by anyone. You should be commended for trying. It is such a great initiative and if ever in London it would be one place I would love to visit. Voted up.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      This is wonderful, Maj. I'd never heard of this and I'll definitely visit it asap.

      A friend of mine and I went to see the Poppy Installation at the Tower of London recently and we also went in search of the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens, right down by the Serpentine. No one knew exactly where it was but we found it in the end. There must be many lesser known spots which are equally interesting.

      We decided that another visit to London would be a good idea, so I'll add Postman's Park to our list of things to see. Thanks for such a well-written hub full of important information.

      I totally agree that it would be worthwhile re-instating such a project; how short-sighted of Boris. We need to recognise the everyday man; much more noteworthy than our 'celebrities' who get recognition and medals for any old reason, it seems.

      Ann

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 2 years ago from United Kingdom

      I've never heard of this. Thanks for the info. Next time I'm in London I'll have to have a look.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I wrote a comment this morning but it wouldn't take it. I fail to be insulted by that. I'll just try again.

      This is such a lovely place. I just love the spirit of the location....there should be many more of these in every major city in the world. Thank you for telling us about this one.

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Hello Sheila, completely agree. London never ceases to surprise - great city to explore. Thank you for commenting...

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Thank you John, yes, it is sad that there are no plans for more plaques. I'm inspired by George Watts and his wife Mary. Such a challenge and so worthwhile. Hope you visit one of these days. Thank you for commenting and vote John.

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Hello Ann, yes, I saw the poppies at the tower this year - just magnificent. I hope you manage to visit Postman's Park, it really is a gem, tucked away in the corner, such history, so touching. George and Mary Watts worked tirelessly. Yes, I'd like to see it re-instated or more recognition at least. Love to hear from you if you do visit. Thank you and best wishes...Maj

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      phoenix - hello again - I hope you make that visit to Postman's Park one day. Good to hear from you. Thanks Maj

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Hello Bill, thank you for persevering - it's always good to receive your comment. I completely agree, more of these tributes around the world would make sense. Sadly, it's unlikely to happen. Thank you again - Maj

    • profile image

      Ginny 2 years ago

      Fascinating Story. Thanks for the insight.

    • profile image

      Kay Readdy 2 years ago

      This is a fascinating story, and how strange that it has been overlooked by the tourist industry. I think adding more plaques might be difficult in a practical sense (especially as gravesites have previously been moved because of a lack of space). However, the cause could be continued in a different way - maybe an ongoing list of such good deeds could be displayed in the nearby church or some such thing. I always find reading gravestones fascinating, and this is akin to that. I am sure other people would be similarly interested. Good on you for drawing attention to this overlooked memorial.

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Ginny, thank you so much for your interest. Glad you found this place as fascinating as me.

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      whoops - as fascinating as I did!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

      Hi, how amazing that I haven't even heard of it before! I don't live in london, but visit there quite a lot, so now I know where to go and look, yes it should still be used, and people who do heroic things should have a name there, thanks for the information, it should definitely be marked more like other london landmarks, nell

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Hi Kay, appreciate your thoughts here. Yes, perhaps it would be difficult to add more plaques at the park although with some interest and administration the concept could be reviewed. The efforts of George Watts and Mary Watts should be upheld and acted upon. Thank you for your interest and comment. Best wishes...

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      Maj, how interesting! I've lived in london for many years, visited St Pauls on several occasions but I've never heard of Postman's Park. This is such a wonderful memorial to all those brave and courageous people, many so very young. I don't get to London much these days, we usually head out into the country for a little peace and quiet, but this is on my list for my next trip. Fascinating article, such a shame about Boris.

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Hi Nell, intriguing isn't it? I hope you visit the park at some point - and if you do I'd love to know your thoughts. It truly is remarkable and surely some recognition is necessary. The plaques are a remarkable social history and so much more could be achieved. Well, that's how I feel. Thanks for commenting Nell, appreciate your input.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 2 years ago from Dubai

      There should be more Postman's Park around the world for all the unsung heroes whose acts of bravery no one comes to know. This place should have more exposure, thank you for sharing this. This is truly one of a kind place.

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Hi Jo, Postman's park is truly a London secret Admittedly t's a small park but the memorial plaques and the history are amazing. I hope you manage a visit some time and would be pleased to hear your views. Yes, shame about Boris, I'd love to see some recognition and TLC. Thanks again, appreciate your comments...Maj

    • liesl5858 profile image

      Linda Bryen 2 years ago from United Kingdom

      I haven't heard of this place but it looks familiar. Maybe I should visit it one day. We went to Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge but not this one. Thank you for sharing it on Hubpages.

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Vellur - I do agree with you on all counts - places like this need exposure and attention. I do thank you for your valuable comment. All the initial effort wasn't entirely in vain but would be nice to see some recognition.

      Thank you, appreciate your comment.

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Linda - thank you. I hope you visit this small park one day, the tributes are quite emotional. H so much. Hope you are warming up in England, your garden will soon be stirring into life. Hope to keep in touch..Cheers

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      The spirit of heroism and self-sacrifice has to be honored somehow. I'm so glad you featured this small place that plays tribute to their spirits.

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Thank you once again Flourish...I love this place and all the love and energy within. I'd dearly like to see some more recognition. It's very special.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 2 years ago from California

      This was so interesting--I love history--and love to read about people's lives and deaths--

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Thanks Audrey - in a few words these plaques much about life, death, self-sacrifice, honourable human beings.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 22 months ago from San Diego California

      This postman's park sounds like my kind of place and I would love to lunch there. This was a lovely memorial to a forgotten shrine. Great hub!

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 22 months ago from australia

      Thank you Mel Carriere - thank you for commenting, it is a delightful small park with the memorials, I love visiting there.

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 22 months ago from Southern Oklahoma

      It is a shame that these plaques are no longer being put up. We should continue to honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice trying to save someone else.

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 22 months ago from australia

      I agree Sheila - so sad this can't continue. However, it gives much respect and honour to the people already chosen. Thank you for stopping by.

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