Here’s a colourful sight, looks quite jolly doesn’t it? It isn’t…
…this is the Cross Bones Graveyard…
…and on the website this is how they describe it:
“Next time you’re in The Borough, take a stroll down Redcross Way, the tranquil back-street running parallel to Borough High Street. Close to the junction with Union Street, you’ll see a vacant plot of land, enclosed by London Underground boards on which someone has chalked a skull and crossbones and the words: “Touch For Love”. The rusty iron gate is adorned with a bronze plaque, ivy, ribbons, flowers, feathers and other curious totems.
This is Cross Bones, an unconsecrated graveyard going back to medieval times. The Tudor historian John Stow refers to it as a burial ground for ‘single women’ – a euphemism for the prostitutes who worked in Bankside’s legalised brothels or ‘stews’.
In the 1990s, the Museum of London archaeologists conducted a partial excavation of the site, removing some 148 skeletons. By their own estimate, these represented less than 1% of the total.”
I’ve long known about this site but it came to my attention again recently when I spotted it in the Estates Gazette, for sale, it seems, as part of a larger site collectively known as Landmark Court (contact Drivers Jonas Deloitte for details). Most Friends of Cross Bones do not object to an appropriate development on the northern part of the site, provided due respect is shown to the most sensitive area, the Cross Bones graveyard itself.