This park is a short walk from St. Paul’s Cathedral and was once three separate churchyards before being merged together in 1880 as a space that the public could use to exercise and relax. It’s a relatively sizeable space for such a central area of London, but it had long since struggled to deal with the number of burials that were needed at the site. With London’s central churchyards being not only full by the 1840s but also a dangerous health hazard where diseases spread, the idea was to open up cemeteries around the city (the Magnificent Seven) and turn sites such as this into public spaces.
This map from the end of the nineteenth century also gives a clue to the reason for the park’s (named as the recreation ground) name, simply that it was commonly used by staff from the General Post Office.
The park is made up of three different churchyards, those belonging to St Botolph’s Aldersgate church, Christ Church Greyfriars and St Leonard Foster Lane. Only the former is still standing, with Christ Church now being in ruins due to bomb damage during the Second World War and the third was lost in the Great Fire of 1666. Some of the ruins of the latter church remained until the nineteenth century, but they were destroyed during the construction of the General Post Office in the nineteenth century.
The former Christ Church churchyard entrance.
Looking across the park to St Botolph’s Aldersgate church.
A rather large tree that has been here for some considerable time, with some graves which were once in the churchyard of St Botolph’s Aldersgate, but which were shoved against the wall in the late nineteenth century when the park opened.
A rather lovely little water feature.
The St Botolph’s Aldersgate church entrance to the park.
Also in the park is the Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice.