London History

.’. Cross Bones Graveyard .’.


Cross Bones is a very unusual post-medieval disused burial ground. It is believed to have been established originally as an unconsecrated graveyard for “single women,” a euphemism for prostitutes, known locally as “Winchester Geese,” because they were licensed by the Bishop of Winchester to work within the Liberty of the Clink.

The age of the graveyard is unknown. John Stow (1525–1605) wrote of it in A Survey of London in 1598 calling it the “Single Woman’s churchyard. “ By 1769, it had become a pauper‘s cemetery servicing the poor of St. Saviour‘s parish. Up to 15,000 people are believed to have been buried there.

In 1990’s the Museum of London did some excavation on the site in connection with the London Underground and they found a highly overcrowded graveyard with bodies piled on top pf one another. They uncovered 148 graves dating between 1800s and it was said that 11% were under one year old and 1/3 of the bodies were peinatal (between 22 weeks gestation and 7 days birth).

The people of London wants to transform the Red Gates into a memorial and to create a Garden of Remembrance on the site. If you want to be part of the petition, sign here!




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