TST spoke to John Crow, aka John Constable, about the Cross Bones Graveyard in London. The graveyard is situated at Redcross Way in Southwark, the west bank of the Thames and in medieval times it was known as the Stewes on Bankside because of the prostitution trade going on there, which was regulated by the church at the time. The women could ply their trade under the protection of the bishop.
It has been there since the 12th century and was used until its closure in 1853.
It was a graveyard for the outcast, the site itself was unconsecrated and it was also known as the ‘single woman’s graveyard’ because many of the prostitutes of that area were buried there along with the poor classes.
Over the centuries it was a known site for body snatchers who would sell the bodies to doctors and teachers. When the site was excavated in the 1990’s, over a thousand bodies were found to be buried there.
John Constable was inspired by a vision of a goose to write the ‘The Southwark Mysteries’, a drama inspired by the medieval mystery plays.
‘The Friends of Cross Bones’ is a group dedicated to maintaining the memorial garden which is now on this site. It is a dedicated garden of remembrance to all the paupers and prostitutes buried there. A vigil is held there on the 23rd of every month to remember the outcast, the dead and the living.
You can find out more about Cross Bones Graveyard at