The Cross Bones graveyard is situated in the Borough/Southwork area of London and and it’s not the sort of place you come across by accident. I was first introduced to it on a walk taken by John Constable (see more about him below.)
The public can’t get access the graveyard, but the gates marking the entrance to part graveyard/part railway work site are covered in ribbons and messages to the dead that are well worth reading.
It’s an ancient site, dating from medieval times and a large proportion of up to 15,000 people buried here are said to be prostitutes, or “Winchester Geese” and their children. The cemetery closed as a threat to public health in 1853 when it was so full that bodies were covered with dirt where they lay, rather than being buried at a decent depth.
The bones were discovered when the Jubilee Line was being built, and since then planning applications have been turned down to develop the site.
The railway work being carried on there is so far respecting the resting place of these paupers, and the Friends of Cross Bones are there to make sure that those interred are not forgotten.
Anyone can join in at a monthly ceremony held at the cemetery at 7pm on the 23rd, and the conductor of the ceremony is local poet, mystic (and some may say self-publicist) John Crow, otherwise known as John Constable.
Halloween is also a regular date at the site with a procession, chanting singing etc.
Watch John (aka The Goose):
Keep an eye on The Cross Bones website for news of other events and awareness-raising campaigns to ensure the graveyard is kept a sacred place.
Address: Red Cross Way, SE1
Nearest tube: London Bridge – London.