Watts' Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice
Postman's Park, London, United Kingdom
Watts' Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice London Reviews
Peculiar epitaphs of 'everyday heroes' Sep 21, 2014
Situated in the green and pleasant surroundings of Postman's Park in the 'city' district of London, these unique memorials to 'everyday heroes' who had sacrificed their own lives to save others is both morbidly fascinating and lump-in-your-throat melancholic.
The tablets were set up by one G.F. Watts, hence the name, in 1900 to mark Queen Victoria's jubilee of that year. Keen to immortalise the unsung heroics of everyday Londoners, Watts initially put up 13 of the plaques (his wife would add many more after his death) and left plenty of space for more to be added in the hope that more examples of heroic self-sacrifice would be enshrined in Londoners' consciousness after he himself was gone. Alas, the spaces for more of these glazed tiles left by Watts and his wife remain unfilled.
Nevertheless, the tablets that are here evoke Victorian ideals of chivalry, and of course do appeal to our own romantic notions of sacrificing oneself for not only our loved ones but strangers too. Each tablet tells a noble, yet desperately sad tale. The ones that particularly stand out in my mind are Alice Ayres (the first person to get a tablet of recognition) who saved three children from a burning building 'at the cost of her own young life'; the man who saved a 'lunatic woman' from suicide only to be killed by the very same train; and the stories of young children (the youngest being eight years old) who saved their own younger siblings and friends at the expense of their own lives.
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