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On Location: Closer—Let's take a walk in the park and get a little Closer to Jude Law & Natalie Portman #book2movies

Updated 2/2/2018 especially for my fellow anglophiles at Joy Weese Moll’s British Isles Friday

I’d never heard of Postman’s Park in London until a few months ago but I’ve seen it on screen and chances are, if you’re a movie fan, you have too, even if you’ve never been to London. The park built over a series of burial grounds—cheery, what?—was seen in the movie Closer starring Jude Law, Julia Roberts, Clive Owen and Natalie Portman. Not only seen, the park played a key role in the film adapted from the play by Patrick Farber. 

Shall we look a little closer? Mark and I visited the park on our very last day in London. It's just a few minutes walk from St. Paul's Church, so you really can kill two birds with one stone.

image via flicker

This park earned its name due to its proximity to the old General Post Office, demolished over 100 hundred years ago. Besides the oddness of the graves below the surface, the park is home to the Watts memorial, built in 1900 by Victorian painter and philanthropist GF Watts.

image via Wikipedia

Watts, a socialist, proposed a park commemorating 'heroic men and women' who died while attempting to save others. That dream became the Watts gallery, small walls of glazed Doulton tablets detailing the heroic acts and the tragic tales that go with the story. There are over 50 such tablets set in the wall at the back of the park.

image via filmgrimoire.com

In the movie Closer Jude Law and Natalie Portman's characters visit the park, Natalie Portman, the commemorative tablet for Alice Ayres playing a pivotal part. (Spoiler Alert: She uses Alice’s identity as her own) 

 image via The Smithsonian

It was the real Ayres who inspired Watts to build his memorial to begin with. Ayres was a nursemaid who saved the lives of two of her three charges—then age 6, 2 and 9 months–when their house caught fire. Instead of saving herself, Alice took a large feather mattress, threw it to the ground and dropped the children one by one out the window, going back and forth into the flames and smoke herself. One of the children died, but the other two survived while Ayres herself, overcome by smoke, fell from an upper window to the sidewalk and died several days later of spinal injuries.*

Hey, if you’re going to pick a fake identity, might as well pick a heroic one, eh? Although to be honest, I would hope any nursemaid would save the babies first. Not that I’ve ever had to be tested, thank God.

I’m fascinated by the idea of people sitting on the benches, eating lunch beneath the tales of heroism, many of which are downright disturbing and sad. 

The day we were there, there were two couples (one which looked fairly illicit, a young woman and her much older boss perhaps?) and a few other people scattered on benches. In the heart of the busy city, it's easy to see why office workers might escape their buildings to this peaceful little spot. I suppose after awhile you get used to the tragic messages on the tiles!

Have you been to Postman’s Park? Have you seen Closer

Here via youtube Jude Law and Natalie Portman take us to both.

Here's how to find it:

Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t seen the end of the movie you may not want to watch this next clip. It’s the final scene of the movie.

*source: The Smithsonian