Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice in Postman’s Park - London, England

Not far from St. Paul’s in London is a much less grand monument that seeks to honor those souls who lost their lives attempting to save others.

The three rows of plaques known as the Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice in Postman’s Park can read a bit like Edward Gorey tales of woe, recited in rambling font framed with floral flourishes. For example there’s William Drake from 1869, who “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.” Yet together they are both a moving and mesmerizing memorial to those people whose final selfless heroism might easily be forgotten.

The Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice was the idea of artist George Frederic Watts, who had long been an advocate for art inspiring social change. The memorial opened in 1900 and the first tablets were made by tile designer William De Morgan, with those memorialized selected by Watts himself through newspaper clippings. While the creators have since changed, a plaque was installed as recently as 2009 to the memorial, which continues to evolve as a quiet space of reflection.

Keep reading the Woeful Tales of Dying for Strangers Collected on a London Wall, on Atlas Obscura!