Home » Hidden London » Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice in Postman’s Park

Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice in Postman’s Park


Location : St Martin’s Le-Grand, London EC1A

Postman’s Park is one of the largest parks in the City of London, it is the location of the famous Watts memorial, built in 1900 by Victorian painter and philanthropist G. F.  Watts. Postman’s Park opened in 1880, it was created on the site of the former churchyard and burial ground of St Botolph’s Aldersgate church and eventually incorporated the  burial grounds of St Botolph’s Aldersgate church .


The park was close to the site of the General Post Office and the name reflected its popularity with GPO staff.


In 1900, the park was chosen as the location for George Frederic Watts’s Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice, a memorial to ordinary people who died while saving the lives of others. The idea for the memorial originated in a letter sent by Watts to the Times in 1887, he proposed that a park commemorating ‘heroic men and women’ who had given their lives attempting to save others would be ideal way to mark Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee year.


Eventually it was decided that memorial tablets would be housed in a wooden gallery, The memorial was designed to accommodate panels of hand-painted ceramic tiles, Watts commissioned William De Morgan, one of the world’s leading tile designers to create the first four memorial tablets. However the costs for the tiles led to a limited progress with only 13 installed before the death of Watts in 1904, the subjects for inclusion on the tiles were selected by Watts who maintained a list of newspaper reports of heroic actions for years.


Over the next few years, various other memorial tiles were added until there was a total of 53 tiles. In 2009, a memorial to Leigh Pitt was added to the Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice, the first new tablet added to the memorial since that of Herbert Maconoghu 78 years earlier.


One of the few green spaces in the City of London, Postman’s Park situated near the Museum of London is still popular with city workers and the garden features  attractive flower beds and a fountain.  The park has also been featured in key scenes in the 2004 film Closer based on the 1997 play by Patrick Marber.


Opening hours

7 days a week throughout the year 8am – 7pm or dusk – whichever is earlier

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