Monday, February 27, 2012

Watts Memorial

"The character of a nation as a people of great deeds is one, it appears to me, that should not be lost sight of. It must surely be a matter of regret when names worthy to be remembered and stories stimulating and instructive are allowed to be forgotten.

It is not too much to say that the history of Her Majesty's reign would gain a lustre were the nation to erect a monument, say, here in London, to record the names of these likely to be forgotten heroes. I cannot but believe a general response would be made to such a suggestion, and intelligent consideration and artistic power might combine to make London richer by a work that is beautiful, and our nation richer by a record that is infinitely honourable.

The material prosperity of a nation is not an abiding possession; the deeds of its people are."

The 19th century artist G.F. Watts believed that the nation needed monuments not only for the famous, but also for those ordinary citizens whose acts of selfless bravery went unrecognized. As no authorities supported his ideas, he undertook the creation of his own memorial. The Watts's Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice, consisting of a long loggia, and four hand-painted, inscribed tiles, was unveiled in 1900. Watts died in 1904, but his wife Mary continued the project. By the late 1930s, when Mary died, 52 of a projected 120 tiles had been completed. In 2007, the name of Leigh Pitt, who died saving a drowning child, was added to the memorial. This was the first new tile added in 78 years.

Postman Park, is a quiet, tucked away sort of place. It's on King Edward St., not far from St. Paul's Cathedral. In earlier years the park was close to the head offices of the General Post Office. Hence the name. The memorial itself is now adjacent to a modern housing block. You will find the park almost deserted, & be free to luxuriate alone in its grand, democratic melancholy.


Laura Goggin Photography said...

What a nice idea. And, the tiles are beautiful.

Marty Wombacher said...

Wow, it's horrific and beautiful all at the same time, great post!