The Handkerchief Tree in Postman’s Park

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The leaves have turned white at last! We have travelled  up twice from Brighton hoping to see it’s full glory and have met some more interesting visitors to the park along the way. We have also seen a very des res. in the City but it is very tiny and half way up a tree!

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There was a full house for the first meeting of the Friends of the Watts Memorial with a talk by John Price.   The Friends (we joined earlier in the year)  is a new organisation set up to gain support for filling the remaining spaces on the memorial with tiles commemorating some of the ordinary heroic people that Watts had intended to include before his and then his wife’s death. John has written an amazing book with details of every person currently on the memorial.

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This park is open to the public every day but there is a exciting Open Garden Squares weekend in June where many spaces in   London that are not usually open to the public are accessible.

Tickets can be purchased in advance from

Thanks to the Poetry School  and London Parks and Gardens Trust  I am lucky enough to be the poet in residence in Postman’s Park for an Open Space  In London weekend in June, for a second time, some of my poems are on this site (click on link on heading)

There will be fifteen poets in  other open spaces, and it will be a great time to see what they are up to and even to write some poems yourself? There is also  flicky book of some of last years poems on the Poetry School site.


This year I am determined to take a bit of time out and visit some of them myself. There are roof gardens, wild life spaces and community gardens etc. A treat for everyone especially those who lived and worked in London for most of their lives as my partner and I did.

To find out about becoming a friend of the Watts memorial

To find out more about friends of the city gardens who were instrumental in arranging the evening in the park, train and encourage volunteers to be involved in the open spaces


The handkerchief tree

I sit under the loggia
and consider heroism
what it must take
to jump into the depths
of Highgate ponds
to save someone from drowning
to risk being crushed to death
by the weight of a runaway
horse’s hooves
to die on a burning stairway
trying to save your mother
from a house on fire.

Is it all your gentle spirits turning
the leaves on the handkerchief tree
pure white in remembrance.

Two of the poems that I wrote subsequently in Postman’s Park that I like the best!

St Botolph’s Aldersgate   (in memory of John Betjeman)P1030115

I hope this is the pew where the poet once sat
having enjoyed his breakfast of burnt toast
sitting in his morning chair looking out to the grave yard
where his great grandfather is buried
drafting a letter then leaving his acorn
papered eerie to saunter out of Cloth Fair
in his heavy coat and wide brimmed hat.1-p1030400

I hope this is the pew where once the poet sat
listening to sacred music from the deep throated organ
wafting through ancient pillars up to the ornate ceiling
looking up at the famous alter painting stored in WalesP1030120 during the war and now with the day light flickering
on the angel with the chalice in Gethsemane
offering strength and courage to The Son of God.

I hope this is the pew where once the poet sat
next to the Wesley window that was not his favourite
but near the stone memorial for a much loved daughter
and not far from the detailed deliberations
of  Dame Anne Packington, widow, who in her will
in 1595 tried to devise ways to ensure her estate1-dsc06872
would help the poor in perpetuity.

I hope this is the pew where once the poet sat
singing the hymns and half listening to the sermon
as thoughts of the letters he still had to write
and the  women that he loved passed through his mind
having time to later wander to favourite memorial
where it implies that it is not a man’s  ornate plague
but his good name and the deeds he accomplished.

The formal lawn

Sebastian methodically measuresDSC06653 - Copy
bright orange netting like an artist
marking out his canvas.

Full of tools
one wheelbarrow stands
forks, spades, brushes, stakes.

His mate kneels at one corner
carefully sifting soil, troweling edges
his head bent, intent on perfection.

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This entry was posted in Cheer yourself up on a dull day, Famous places, London out and about, Nature - birds, flowers, sea or country, Out and about in London, Photography and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Handkerchief Tree in Postman’s Park

  1. Congratulations Ann – writer in residence two years running at a beautiful gem of a park

  2. ann perrin says:

    Many thanks – yes it is a gem x

  3. Peter Kenny says:

    Well done Ann. I love the idea of you being a poet in a park 🙂 The handkerchief tree is quite something too. Reminds me a little of seeing haiku tied to trees when I went to Japan.

  4. ann perrin says:

    Thank you. Had a wonderful lady last year who wrote her haiku in Japanese. I think I got a bit too enthusiastic encouraging poems from the public to be placed in a mini postbox, pegged to on a line etc. Going to be a bit more laid back this time round.
    Congratulations must be in order for your recent success. Ann

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