urban75 walk, Haunted London
Report by urban75 editor, Jan 2007
We were fortunate enough to have author and historian Chris Roberts take us on this short walk, starting from Hays Galleria, near London Bridge.
The walk concentrated on the ghoulish side of London's history, with lurid tales of murders, drownings and unexplained happenings. And a Nazi dog.
Our trusty guide regales us with fascinating tales about nearby London Bridge and its history of displaying the heads of traitors on spikes.
View from the north side of London Bridge, looking east, with Tower Bridge and HMS Belfast in the distance.
Impressive buildings adjacent to London Bridge.
Old, hand-painted sign on London Bridge stonework.
Looking west along the Thames from Blackfriars Bridge.
Old river taxi steps underneath Blackfriars Bridge.
Old derelict building on Southwark Street.
Crossbones Graveyard, where the prostitutes and paupers of the borough were buried from medieval times until the 1850s. It's estimated that there are over 15,000 people buried there.
Situated in St Saviour's parish (now Redcross Way SE1), the grounds were long established as the a final resting place for prostitutes working in the legalised brothels or 'stews' of Bankside. These women were known, rather bizarrely, as 'Winchester Geese' and Stow's 1603 Survey of London, describes the burial site as being appointed to single women forbidden the rites of the church so long as they continued a sinful life.
By Victorian times the site was used as a pauper's burial ground, finally closing in 1853 on the grounds that it was 'completely overcharged with dead' adding that further burials were, 'inconsistent with a due regard for the public health and public decency'.
The gates to the old graveyard (now a construction site) are covered with messages and pagan offerings.
After discovering that our chosen pub - the Royal Oak - was closed, we shuffled off to the Ship instead.
Features by Chris Roberts:
Gods of the River and Bridge
Return of the Penny Dreadful
Waking the Dead: the Crossbones Graveyard
Cross Bones Graveyard by John Constable
The Southwark Mysteries