We left the museum and walked around the remains of the Roman city wall. It was built around the city of London in approximately 200AD and was used for over 1,000 years. There are just a few remaining areas of wall, including this one just outside the Museum of London.
From there we walked to Postman's Park, where we had promised the kids they could play football. The park wasn't fit for football games, but we did get to see the memorial wall, which turned out to be my favorite part of the day. I'm going to write a lot about it- because I liked it so much.
George Frederic Watts was a Victorian artist who had an idea for the celebration of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee, and suggested the building of a wall to commemorate heroes who died giving their lives to save another. He first suggested the idea in 1887, but his dream wasn't realized until 1900.
The idea for the memorial came at a time where interest in the lives of the British poor was growing, and the media was also advocating for more awareness and need for social change. Watts believed that art was a powerful force for such change, and he also believed in celebrating role models to help improve character among British citizens. One story in particular inspired the public and gave momentum to Watt's dream, and that was the story of Alice Ayers.
She became wildly popular and recognized as a hero and was one of the first names to be inscribed on Watt's wall.
(I haven't seen the movie Closer, but the tour guide said that there were scenes filmed at this spot, and Alice Ayers became the fabricated identity of the character played by Natalie Portman.)
The Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice was designed with 120 tiles. Watts died in 1904, leaving the project to his wife, who eventually lost interest and passed it along to the local Diocese. But by 1931 it had been abandoned altogether, with only 53 tiles inscribed. For over 78 years no new names were added to the memorial wall.
I found this wall to be so inspiring. There is an app now that details the stories of each of the individuals who are celebrated here and I look forward to reading more about them. Great love hath no man...