Postman’s Park, London and G.F. Watts’ Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice

23 Jul

One article in the August 2009 edition (the one with Davina McCall on the cover) of the BBC Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine really caught my eye and lead me to start investigating further with Google.

The article in question concerned George Frederic Watts and the memorial he instigated in Postman’s Park, London to commemorate ordinary people who died whilst trying to save the lives of others. I won’t go into too much detail about the memorial because that has already been done on a number of websites including Caroline’s Miscellany blog and in several books. G.F. Watt’s letter to The Times newspaper in 1887 which started the whole project off can be viewed (free of charge) over at the Times Archive website.

The memorial consists of a collection of ceramic tablets (not quite sure how many there are now) each of which tell to story of someone (sometimes more than one person) who died as a result of trying to save another.

Perhaps the best collection of images of these I have found is this Flickr collection provided by charlietyack. The aforementioned Caroline’s Miscellany blog provides more details on some of the individual memorials, as well as details on recent happenings at the memorial, including the recent addition of a new memorial plaque, the first one for over seventy years.

The chances of finding an ancestor or relation mentioned on one of these memorial plaques is very slim, but they do make inspiring reading and offer poignant reminders that heroism and bravery do not just occur in times of war, but also in everyday life.

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