'Heroism in everyday life': the Watts Memorial for heroic self-sacrifice

Price, John. 2007. 'Heroism in everyday life': the Watts Memorial for heroic self-sacrifice. History Workshop Journal, 61(1), pp. 255-278. ISSN 1363-3554 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

In the shadow of the Museum of London and a short distance from St Paul's Cathedral there is a small public park containing a striking and evocative example of how the past can survive amidst the infrastructure of modern life. It is known as ‘Postman's Park’ and is situated just off Aldersgate St, EC1 (Fig. 1). The large building to the south was once the home of the General Post Office and the park became a regular spot for postmen to take their breaks, whence its unusual name. Previously the churchyard of St Botolph's, Aldersgate, the formal public gardens were officially opened by the Lord Mayor on 30 July 1900.1 Postman's Park is still an oasis of tranquillity in the heart of the City; more notably it contains a cloister with the Watts Memorial for Heroic Self Sacrifice. The opening of this memorial in 1900 realized a hope that the British artist George Frederick Watts had expressed thirteen years earlier. In a letter printed in The Times on 5 September 1887 he had proposed a scheme to commemorate the Queen's forthcoming jubilee.2 He suggested that some kind of memorial should be erected to remember people who had lost their lives while performing acts of heroism in everyday life: people and acts that might otherwise be forgotten.

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Date Deposited:

26 Sep 2014 14:51

Last Modified:

27 Jun 2017 10:30

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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