Location: Southwark, London
Era: Modern Era
Status: Active Project
Objective: Other Heritage Action
The Cross Bones Graveyard
A shrine has been created at the gates to the site of a post-medieval burial ground in Redcross Way, Southwark. This outcasts’ graveyard was already regarded as ‘ancient’ in the 16th century, when it was known as‘the Single Woman’s churchyard’ – a reference to the ‘Winchester Geese’, prostitutes licensed by the Bishop of Winchester to work in south London’s Liberty of the Clink. By Victorian times it had become ‘Cross Bones’, the pauper’s burial ground. It was closed in 1853, being ‘completely overcharged with dead’. In the early 1990s it was partly dug up during work on the Jubilee Line Extension. Museum of London archaeologists removed 148 skeletons, an estimated 1% of 15,000 burials.
In 1996, the writer John Constable revived the story of Cross Bones and the ‘secret history’ of The Goose in The Southwark Mysteries. This work has been performed in Shakespeare’s Globe, Southwark Cathedral and, annually since 1998, at the Halloween of Cross Bones. A vigil is held on the 23rd of each month at the gates in Redcross Way, regarded by many as a portal between the worlds. Here, local people tend the shrine to ‘the outcast dead’. There is also a campaign to protect the site and to establish a Garden of Remembrance in the southernmost part, where an unofficial ‘Invisible Garden’ flourished for several years.
For more information: www.crossbones.org.uk and please sign the petition for a Garden of Remembrance:
The Cross Bones project is one HAD is delighted to support and highlight from within these web pages.
Contact: John Constable