How Did Postman's Park Get Its Name?

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 86 months ago

Last Updated 21 April 2017

How Did Postman's Park Get Its Name?
Photo: Chris

In the Square Mile, between the Museum of London roundabout and St Paul's Cathedral is a garden called Postman's Park. It's a lovely spot for a picnic, and home to the Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice — remembering those who risked their lives to save others.

But how did the park get its name?

The moniker conjures up images of posties gathering there for a picnic break in between rounds, leaning their trusty Royal Mail bikes against a lamp-post while they tuck into their cheese sarnies. Although you're more likely to come across Deliveroo cyclists rather than traditional postmen taking a break these days, that's not too far from the truth.

The park was created in 1880, on the former churchyard of St Botolph's Without Aldersgate, a church which still stands on St Martin's Le Grand today in the form of London City Presbyterian Church. At the time, the General Post Office, the UK's first purpose built post office, stood on the eastern side of the street.

The Post Office in St Martin's Le Grand (looking south) by Thomas Shepherd (late 1820s). Image: Public Domain

The General Post Office was an impressive, Grecian building complete with porticos. And yet pretty soon, London's communicative demands outgrew the sizeable structure, and another postal building was built across the road — where BT's offices now stand — in the 1870s to house the telegraph department. 20 years later, this new building was further extended.

It's not known how many people worked in these Post Office buildings at any one time, but a fair few of them made use of the nearby park — Postman's Park. So while it's not named after your average postie, it does hark back to a lost part of London's postal heritage.

The park isn't the only thing that got its name from the General Post Office buildings. The tube station we know today as St Paul's was called Post Office when the station first opened on the Central London Railway in 1900. St Paul's may have been the obvious name choice, but there was already a St Paul's railway station — the one that's now Blackfriars.

Image: Public Domain