All text copyright Stephen Coates 2006 - 2015


The tower seen between the railings in the top picture is the priapic lump of open-plan office space called 'The Shard" which is jack-booting its way across an historic part of the city.  Already it has partially destroyed the wonderful Victorian Vaults below London Bridge station and evicted the Shunt arts collective that had been occupying them.  For several years, Shunt presented an amazing range of work and events to the delight of many Londoners.  I played there several times myself.  But the grey men came with a piece of paper which said it had all got to stop.  After just having been taken brutally from behind by the banking sector to the tune of several billion, it seems strange we're now letting their property developer friends do it again in Borough.  Mind you this part of the city has never been averse to vice. The railings in the picture and the 'offerings' seen in the lower photo are in the "Crossbones Graveyard" in Redcross Street
This is the site of the burial place of 'The Outcast Dead' - persons who were not considered fit to be buried within the boundary of the historical city of London.  So basically this is where all the prostitutes, suicides and pagans went.

The prostitutes were known as 'Winchester Geese' because they were licensed by the Bishop of Winchester who owned and officiated the land hearabouts.  He did this so that the pious burghers north of the river could legally hop over and get their leg over.  They got laid, he got paid.  Yes, it's completely true I am afraid.  After an often short and painful life of servicing the good citizens, the 'single women' could be buried here as the ground was unconsecrated.  And up to 15000 of them were by the mid eighteenth century.

Thanks largely to writer John Constable and others, the site, at present a scruffy piece of concrete waste-ground, is commemorated with regular events. The next is at Halloween.  It is hoped that a permanent memorial garden will be created there - well, if the greedy hands of the property developers can be kept off it that is.


ArtSparker said...

"London kills me"

----from London Kills Me, a film by Hanif Kureishi

A satisfying prostitute's revenge tale is "The Crimson Petal and the White" by Michel Faber.

spillyjane said...

Oh, those grey men! I can barely stand it when a lovely old tree is cut down or a meadow is ruined so that some tacky strip-mall can be built; allow me to mourn the passing of the Victorian Vaults along with you.

Also: am now reading Peter Ackroyd's London. What a remarkable, enjoyable work.

Zurich said...

Permanent garden is a brilliant idea. It would be a memorial both to suffering of ones and the hypocrisy of others. If they would need volunteers I would join.