Thursday 25 September 2014

Hidden History in London

There's a little known, hidden place in London that holds a sad history. Around the corner from the hustle and bustle of Borough Market. Of tourists and Londoners buying organic carrots and vegan cupcakes. Only a few minutes from the gruesome London dungeon and beautiful Southwark Cathedral sits the crossbones cemetery. A post-medieval cemetery for 'single women'. This was the euphemism given to prostitutes of the time; sometimes also called the Winchester Geese after the Bishop of Winchester who licensed them to work in one particular area of Southwark. The plaque on the gate outside describes those at rest here as 'the outcast dead'. Along with the Bishop of Winchester's prostitutes, paupers, unmarried mothers, newborn/stillborn babies or other people on the fringes of society have been laid to rest here.

Squeezed on a small area of land, found and excavated during the Museum of London's explorations, when transport for London were building the Jubilee line, this place is little know and hardly visited. If you take an alternative London tour of the area you will be shown here, as I was a few months ago. The sad history of this place is all but lost to most Londoners and the thousands of tourists who pass through Borough Market, catching a glimpse of Bridget Jones' front door and the secret entrance to the Leaky Cauldron. Although there is not a lot to see here, I felt it was meaningful to stop and pay tribute to the vulnerable of a London from the past, a graveyard full of people from the fringe of society, who were not even afforded a sacred burial ground.

I don't know what future plans there are for this space, but I sincerely hope it is not demolished to make way for a car park or trendy new bar. Those buried here, as those buried elsewhere deserve a peaceful resting place.