The plaques at Postman's Park, a scenic green space close to the neighborhoods of Holborn and Clerkenwell – and not far from St. Paul's Cathedral – bear testimony to the courage of (not so) ordinary Londoners.
“Harry Sisley of Kilburn. Drowned in attempting to save his brother after he himself had just been rescued. May 24, 1878.” A memorial to this ten-year-old is just one of the beautiful ceramic plaques on a shaded wall in Postman’s Park in London.
Painter and sculptor George Frederick Watts started this gallery in 1888 to mark fatal feats of bravery by ordinary men, women and children and this “Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice” makes for poignant reading.
Many read almost like a short drama, conjuring up a vanished way of life: “William Drake. Lost his life in averting a Serious Accident to a Lady in Hyde Park Whose horses were unmanageable through the breaking of the carriage pole. April 2, 1869.”
The first tiles were unveiled in 1900 and they were added sporadically until 1931, with a large jump to the last one in 2009.
The park gets its name from the nearby General Post Office, whose postal staff started to use it for their lunch break. Three former churchyards were combined from 1880 onwards to make it and the tree-shaded park is still a restful spot amid the daily bustle of London City life. Rest a while and recall how our common humanity can make heroes of us all.
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