Profile image
By A Bad Witch's Blog
Contributor profile | More stories
Story Views

Last Hour:
Last 24 Hours:

London Necropolis: Cross Bones Graveyard

Friday, October 21, 2016 1:07
% of readers think this story is Fact. Add your two cents.

Before Samhain – or Halloween – for the past few years I’ve been posting photos of London’s burial grounds in a series I’ve called London Necropolis – a Necropolis being a city of the dead.

B4INREMOTE-aHR0cHM6Ly8xLmJwLmJsb2dzcG90LmNvbS8tUjNQcEx1aXR2VW8vV0FrZXhhdThMd0kvQUFBQUFBQUFRTFUvSW5TY21yTk1qX0VVcURCeHRUdHpRdXlCS0hLMUo2M2pRQ0xjQi9zMjAwL2Nyb3NzYm9uZXMlMkJnYXJkZW4xLmpwZw==The photos on this page are from one of London’s most unusual graveyards – Cross Bones, in Red Cross Way, Southwark. It is unusual because it is believed to have originally been was a graveyard for medieval outcasts, especially sex workers known as the Winchester Geese, because they were licensed to ply their trade by the Bishop of Winchester who owned the land.

It continued to be used as a burial ground for the poor until 1853, when it was closed because it was “completely overcharged with dead”. Despite protests by local people, Cross Bones was eventually built over and the dead who were buried there were forgotten.

B4INREMOTE-aHR0cHM6Ly8yLmJwLmJsb2dzcG90LmNvbS8tNXB1X1RTM2NXYkUvV0FrZXBsUDU1OUkvQUFBQUFBQUFRTFEvaXd0bTdkdVZKbDAwS0FrQnNuUUw1V0xFUzkweVZIOC1nQ0xjQi9zMjAwL2Nyb3NzYm9uZXMlMkJyaWJib25zJTJCcG9ydHJhaXQuanBnThen, in the 1990s, archaeological excavations were conducted on the land before the Jubilee Underground line was built. The archaeologists found bodies piled on top of one another, mostly from Victorian times and earlier, of all ages, and many having died of diseases common to the poor.

In 1996 the poet John Constable had a vision about the history of place and was inspired to write a play about it – The Southwark Mysteries. He also instigated the tradition of meeting there on the 23rd of each month to commemorate the outcast dead with a vigil and the tying of ribbons of remembrance on the gates.

Thanks to the dedication of John Constable and other local people, Cross Bones Graveyard was eventually turned into memorial gardens, which are open to visit most weekdays at around lunchtime and on Saturdays. The graveyard gates in Redcross Way are permanently decorated by messages, ribbons, flowers and other tokens of respect.


It has also become a tradition for John Constable and others to hold a Halloween at Cross Bones – a night of entertainment including the enactment of part of the Southwark Mysteries. I went to one back in 2008 and you can read my review here:

Halloween at Cross Bones normally books up very early – this year’s event is already full, and it is possible that it will be the last one ever. However, you can go to the regular Crossbones vigil on Saturday night, 23 October, at 6.45pm in Redcross Way, London SE1 1TA. You can also find out more about Crossbones Graveyard and Memorial Garden, as well as events taking place, here:

The photos on this page were all taken by myself, Lucya Starza, in the past week. If you want to reuse them you must credit my name and


Links and previous related posts

To read more posts like this visit A Bad Witch’s Blog at


We encourage you to Share our Reports, Analyses, Breaking News and Videos. Simply Click your Favorite Social Media Button and Share.

Report abuse


Your Comments
Question   Razz  Sad   Evil  Exclaim  Smile  Redface  Biggrin  Surprised  Eek   Confused   Cool  LOL   Mad   Twisted  Rolleyes   Wink  Idea  Arrow  Neutral  Cry   Mr. Green

Top Stories
Recent Stories



Top Global

Top Alternative



Email this story
Email this story

If you really want to ban this commenter, please write down the reason:

If you really want to disable all recommended stories, click on OK button. After that, you will be redirect to your options page.