Crossbones Graveyard, London
This is a page for all friends of Crossbones who support our work to protect the shrine at the gates and to create a Garden of Remembrance on the site of the old Crossbones Graveyard.Our London planning tool makes visiting Crossbones Graveyard and other London attractions simple, and helps you make a travel plan personal to you.
In 1603, historian John Stow refers to the burial ground for 'single women' - a euphemism for the prostitutes who worked in Bankside's legalised brothels or 'stews':
'I have heard of ancient men, of good credit, report that these single women were forbidden the rites of the church, so long as they continued that sinful life, and were excluded from Christian burial, if they were not reconciled before their death. And therefore there was a plot of ground called the Single Woman's churchyard, appointed for them far from the parish church.'
Crossbones Graveyard is now known and celebrated locally, nationally and internationally. Back in 2002, the land was referred to as "derelict, vacant land"; now all the planning applications and other discussions between TfL and the Council acknowledge the existence, and special importance, of Crossbones Graveyard. The Council funded the plaque and planters at the gates, and has pledged £100,000 towards the creation of a memorial garden. A recent planning application for a temporary car-park specified a location in the northern part of the site - and that it had to be fenced off from the sensitive southern part. In March of this year, we succeeded in having Crossbones designated as Borough Open Land, ensuring that nothing could be built on the site. This provision has however been temporarily er... *derailed* by a procedural technicality and by the boundary dispute to which I refer.
Throughout these 10 years, we've lobbied Councillors and Council Officers, local businesses and grass-roots organisations to support our proposal for a Garden of Remembrance. Valerie Shawcross AM has asked the Mayor for assurances that TfL recognises the historical importance of the site and has written to senior TfL managers asking them to consult with us on the site's future. In a meeting with TfL representatives, I stressed our particular interest in the southern part of the site, and our willingness to consider supporting an appropriate development on the Southwark Street area, provided that such a development included provision for the establishment of a public garden on the cemetery site (using available archaeological evidence to establish the bounds of the original burial ground. This roughly corresponds to the southern part of the site, which is already fenced off from the northern part now being used as a works yard and temporary car-park. A distinction between the site of the cemetery and the remainder of the site has thus already been recognised.) We've made TfL aware that we've already created sufficient public awareness, and even legal precedents, to render any future commercial development of the graveyard site prohibitively expensive.
Public awareness of the importance of Crossbones is at the heart of our campaign. A wild garden already grows on the graveyard site - it serves as a exemplar for a future Garden of Remembrance. Next year, we will seek to persuade the site-owners to allow some limited public access. The shrine at the gates goes back to 1998 and has been the focus for our vigils held every 23rd of the month for more than 6 years. The extraordinary history of Crossbones Graveyard is already known all over the world. Major articles on the work of The Friends of Crossbones have appeared in The Independent and the FT. The BBC’s History Cold Case series devoted an entire episode to ‘Crossbones Girl.’ On 31 October 2010, our work was featured in an audio-photofilm on the front page of the BBC website - and was one of their top ten hits: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11642938
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Crossbones Graveyard Reviews
This is now a small garden. There is a fence that has all the memorials on it, plus the historic plaque. Other than that, there isn't much to see. It is also off the beaten path. So make sure you want... more »
Excavations on-site uncovered a mass “pauper’s graveyard on the site. The community has done a great job in building this into a beautiful memorial tribute garden to pay respects to the thousands who ... more »
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