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The London Park Dedicated To Everyday Heroes Who Died Saving Others • Postman’s Park

Tucked a stones throw away from the museum of London is Postman’s Park, one of the few gardens you can find in the old City of London.

In honour of ordinary individuals who sacrificed their lives to save others, a memorial was conceived—a project initially proposed by painter and sculptor George Frederic Watts in 1887 to commemorate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. However, the idea was not embraced at the time. In 1898, Henry Gamble, vicar of St Botolph's Aldersgate church, approached Watts with renewed interest. Postman's Park, situated on the former churchyard of St Botolph's, provided the ideal location for the memorial. The church sought to raise funds for its preservation, and Gamble believed that Watts's proposed memorial would help garner attention for the park.

The memorial was unveiled in an incomplete state in 1900, featuring a 50-foot wooden loggia designed by Ernest George, enclosing a wall designed to accommodate 120 ceramic memorial tiles crafted by William De Morgan. At the time of its inauguration, only four tiles adorned the memorial. Following Watts's death in 1904, his widow, Mary Watts, assumed responsibility for overseeing the project's continuation.

In 1906, William De Morgan, having produced 24 memorial tablets for the project, left the ceramics industry to pursue a career as a novelist. Consequently, Royal Doulton became the sole ceramics firm capable of crafting additional tiles for the memorial. However, dissatisfaction arose with Royal Doulton's designs, and Mary Watts, occupied with managing the Watts Gallery and Watts Mortuary Chapel in Compton, Surrey, gradually lost interest in the project. As a result, efforts to complete the memorial became sporadic and ultimately ceased altogether in 1931, with only 53 of the intended 120 tiles installed.[10][11] In 2009, the Diocese of London authorised the addition of new tablets to the memorial, marking the first expansion in 78 years.

The tablets are organised into five rows, with the central row containing the original 24 tablets designed by De Morgan, directly below which are the 24 tablets added in 1908, and newer additions above the original tiles in the second row. The first and fifth rows remain vacant.

The first four tablets, crafted by De Morgan and installed in 1900, consisted of two large custom-made tiles each. Subsequently, nine more De Morgan tablets were added in 1902, utilizing standard tiles to reduce expenses. These were the final tiles installed under Watts's supervision. In 1905, eleven additional De Morgan tablets, alongside T. H. Wren's memorial to Watts, completed the central row.

All 24 tablets of the fourth row, produced by Royal Doulton, were installed simultaneously in August 1908. An additional tablet honouring PC Alfred Smith was added in June 1919, followed by similar tablets to three more police officers in October 1930, along with a replacement tablet accurately depicting the East Ham Sewage Works incident of 1895. In April 1931, a tablet fashioned by Fred Passenger in the original De Morgan style, commemorating schoolboy Herbert Maconoghu, filled the gap in the centre row left by the removal of the original, incorrect tablet to the victims of the East Ham Sewage Works incident. In 2009, the 54th tablet, designed in the style of the Royal Doulton tiles, was added to honour print technician Leigh Pitt, marking the first addition to the wall in 78 years.

There are still 66 empty spaces for heroes / tragedies of the future (depending on whether you’re the glass-half-full sort.)

A separate plaque adjacent to the memorial features a quote from George Frederic Watts: ‘The material prosperity of a nation is not an abiding possession: the deeds of its people are.’

It also quotes the Bible:

‘Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.’ John 15:13

Location: Find Postman’s Park off St. Martin-le-Grand. Nearest station: St. Paul’s. See it on Google Maps. Opening hours: Open 8am – dusk, or 7pm if earlier. Entry: is free. More information: try the City of London website.



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