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Postman's Park, City of London

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by Cuisine Genie (subscribe)
Sharing the joy of cooking, eating and living in London. From Ireland, now living and loving it in South London with a food loving French man Mr.Moustache.You can read about our fun on I hope you enjoy it.
Published July 9th 2012
I never understood what the fuss was about London before I moved here. I do now. London is energising, breath-taking, surprising, and makes you feel like you are at the centre of everything. But it can be harsh and cold (and that's not just the weather). It's the type of city that will chew you up and spit you out for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I find that you need places to escape the chaos and relish in the fact that you live here and it's fabulous.

So, sshh, can you keep a secret? Here's a little hidden spot you will literally walk past if you don't know it's there (I did).
Postman's Park. Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice. Watts

Hop off the Central Line at St. Paul's. Mind the gap. Walk a few minutes along St. Martin's Le Grand. On your way keep an eye out for the blue police telephone post. A little piece of history - these were set up to allow the public to contact the police before we all went mobile. Not just a feature of Dr. Who for any fans out there.

Now, slow down, and watch out for the black gate on your left. Ah, there it is. Walk inside and experience Postman's Park. It's a little park in the grounds of St. Botolph's Aldersgate Church. And it really is peace in The City. You're bang smack in the middle of the historical financial district but there're no deals happening here.

My favourite part about it is George Fredic Watts's Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice. Watts was a Victorian painter and sculptor who opened the memorial in 1900 to commemorate the heroic acts of ordinary people who died saving the lives of others. It sounds a little strange and morbid when you haven't seen it. But please go there and experience it for yourself. A series of ceramic plaques describe each person's selfless remarkable feat, like;

Mary Rogers, Stewardess of the Stella. Self sacrificed by giving up her life belt and voluntarily going down in the sinking ship.

Solomon Galaman. Aged 11. Died of injuries after saving his little brother from being run over in Commercial Street. "Mother I saved him, but I could not save myself".

Alice Ayres. Daughter of a bricklayer's labourer. Who by intrepid conduct saved 3 children from a burning house in Union Street Borough at the cost of her own young life.

Reading the memorial is both haunting and uplifting. Sadly it was never completed with Watts finishing only 13 plaques before he died in 1904. His wife Mary continued after his death with a further 34 tables. Can you imagine a modern day version?

If you've seen the film Closer with Natalie Portman, you might recognise it. Some scenes take place here and Portman's character's alias is named Alice. But I've found that a lot of people here don't know about this space. It's my little spot to escape to when I decide that London is just mental. I go here and realise that whatever London is, it's most definitely worth it.

I highly recommend a visit, but please - don't tell everyone about it.
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Why? Escape, relax, unwind in the middle of the chaos. Experience George Frederic Watts's haunting Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice
When: 7 days a week, gates locked at dusk
Phone: Not applicable, but phone number of the Church is 44 (0) 20 7588 3388 (park is in its grounds)
Where: City of London, a few minutes walk from St. Paul's tube stop on the Central Line.
Cost: Free
Your Comment
Cool. Said with style!
by Dave Walsh (score: 4|11306) 2920 days ago
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