Hidden corners of London

It’s amazing what you can discover in parts of the city that you thought you were familiar with. One diversion, or an attempted short-cut, and all of a sudden you’ve made a delightful discovery.

Lately, I’ve taken to running (on Saturdays – on weekdays, this would be a no-go) through The City, particularly in and around Bart’s Hospital, Smithfield and the Barbican. It’s an area I often walk through, but my most recent discovery was made when realising I’d taken the wrong road and needed a route back to the right one. Spotting a park, I realised it would work as a cut through, so I hot-footed it through it.

I noted it as a nice spot to have a sit down amid the busy-ness of central London and found myself back there while on a head clearing stroll. I posted this picture on Twitter and was rather surprised at the response it received (especially as I don’t consider it to be up to my usual photographic standards!):

Postman's ParkThe fountain in Postman’s Park

Several people seemed to be familiar with it, which I considered slightly odd, given that I’d never heard of it and it’s virtually on my patch. Then I had a tweet that mentioned some memorials – someone else concurred that these were a must-see and I realised that I’d clearly missed something. On that particular afternoon, I entered on the Aldersgate side (next to a Wesley tribute) and had only ventured as far as a bench by the fountain before turning around and leaving again. On my run, I’d entered at Little Britain [yes, that’s an actual street name] and passed through to Aldersgate – so the key feature of the park hadn’t featured either.

What I had missed is actually visible in the above photo. Beyond the fountain, beneath the low roof, is a collection of memorials to those who have died in saving others – officially known as ‘The Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice’ by George Frederic Watts. It’s a collection of plaques remembering just some of the many who have committed such acts and once I successfully found the park’s key feature this afternoon, I realised just how utterly beautiful it is.

Memorial to Heroes

The inscriptions were varied – from children saving playmates from icy water; to men saving women from ‘unmanaged’ horses; to a lady saving a fellow pantomime cast-member from a burning dress; and the first memorial in over a decade – to a hero from 2007:

Memorials

The park in question is known as Postman’s Park, owing (thanks to Wikipedia) to its proximity to the former GPO and the fact that postmen liked to sit there – got to love a honest-to-goodness place name! It’s just across from St Paul’s station, in between Little Britain and Aldersgate, and is thoroughly worth a visit.

Just up from Postman’s Park (either Little Britain or Aldersgate, to London Wall, then left, then another left at a road after Barbican station), is Charterhouse Square. Located behind Smithfield market, my discovery of it last Thursday finally answered a question I’ve been pondering for some time [well, at least 2 weeks]: What’s behind the long brick wall on Old Street, just past St John’s Street? Answer:

Charterhouse The Charterhouse

Super lovely and well-worth a wander to, should you ever be in the vicinity.

Seriously, this city surprises me on a near-daily basis. Long may it continue!