Situated on an old burial ground in the City of London near St Paul’s Cathedral, Postman’s Park is a small relaxing haven with an intriguing history.
So-called because the park was used by workers from the GPO building in the 1800s, Postman’s Park today is used mostly by office workers on lunch breaks. Although small it is one of the largest parks in the City.
The ground the park sits on is slightly raised because of its former life as a burial ground. Due to the lack of burial space in the city at the time, corpses were often piled on top of others and covered with a layer of earth. The burial ground was eventually closed along with the others in the City due to health concerns and in 1880 it was turned into a park.
But the park’s story does not end there. In 1899 a special memorial was built in the park. Named the Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice it is a unique and touching tribute to the bravery of ordinary people. The brainchild of Victorian painter and sculptor George Frederic Watts, the memorial is a wall filled with ceramic tiles made by Royal Doulton.
These tiles or plaques hold the names of people, who would otherwise have been long forgotten, and their acts of bravery. A selection of rescues attempted by people, regardless of the risks to their lives, adorn this wall which nestles under a little shelter in the park. The tiles today are still rather pretty to look at and are quite touching to read should you take the time. If you are in the area, I would urge you to take a little detour to the park and read about the courage of Thomas Simpson, William Goodrum and others.
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