If you live in or visit London, I hope you'll make a stop at Cross Bones Graveyard, if you haven't already. It is an unconsecrated burial ground for prostitutes, called "The Winchester Geese," that dates back to at least the 16th century. And it's become a shrine of sorts for outsiders and the outcast, with gates that are festooned with ribbons and prayers.
Though the garden within is beautifully tended, and there are occasional tours and vigils, largely thanks to the efforts of John Constable, it is not technically open to the public at present. Bankside Open Spaces Trust is looking to remedy this, and has started an online fundraising campaign to fund public memorial garden. Though they are hoping to raise £30,000 ultimately, they do need to make at least £7,000 in order to keep any funds that come through, and they're just shy of £4,000 currently. Won't you please consider donating? This is truly one of the world's sacred places, and will finally honor those nameless women who deserve dignity, beauty, and remembrance.
Full info here:
A Public Garden for Crossbones Graveyard
by Bankside Open Spaces Trust
On Redcross Way, a tranquil back-street running parallel to Borough High Street, there's a plot of land surrounded by hoardings. There's a big rusty iron gate adorned with ivy, ribbons, flowers, feathers, jewellery and other curious totems – and with a bronze plaque bearing the epitaph: 'R.I.P. The Outcast Dead'. This is Cross Bones, a pauper's burial ground with a legend going back to medieval times. ¹
A post-medieval un-consecrated burial ground south of the River Thames in SE1 that remained in use until 1853. Thousands of people – especially those on the margins of society including prostitutes from Bankside's brothels – are thought to be buried there.
Landowner Transport for London (TfL) has leased the burial ground to Bankside Open Spaces Trust (BOST) ² , for at least three years.
We have been lucky enough to secure initial grant funding to make the site safe, add a gate, and lay out the first raised bed to protect the human remains. We need to raise a further £60,000 to turn this special place into a garden with regular opening hours, for all to enjoy, and remember.
The Cross Bones story has been championed by local writer John Constable and the gates at the entrance to the site on Redcross Way have become a focus for remembrance of those buried at the site.
Here lay your hearts, your flowers,
Your Book of Hours.
Your fingers, your thumbs,
Your Miss You, Mums.
Here hang your hopes, your dreams,
Your locks, your keys,
-from The Southwark Mysteries by John Constable,
recited during the monthly vigils at the gates.³
As BOST creates a safe beautiful garden for public access visitors will be able to experience and reflect in the unique ambience for the first time in over 100 years.
Please donate here now.