Sunday, October 31, 2010

Lost Souls of London

For as long as I have been visiting London, I always had a rule to venture off to the side streets and back alleys. Many years ago I spotted a milk bottle that was delivered to a house that had a golden oak wood door with stone jambs. It was in posh neighborhood and what surprised me was that milk was still being hand delivered in central London. The bottle sitting on the stone step framed by the doorjamb made an excellent photo, too. Often the back streets will bring me to a nice local pub without all-those American tourist. I was searching for one last March in SE1 and got myself really lost. Well, you’re never lost with an Oyster Travel Card.

I started my last day with a tip to the V & A and then a pint at the Grapes. I took a bus to Victoria station and then a bus to Borough. The bus left me off near the Royal Oak but I walked to the Lord Clyde, having not been there in a few years. From there I walked to Union Street to find the Charles Dickens on Union Street. The Lord Clyde was not serving food on Sunday so I went to the Charles Dickens to see if it was open and doing food. Not being too sure of its location, I also ventured up to Southwark Street and having failed to fine the pub I decided that I was lost. I was walking down Redcross Way back to Marshalsea Road when I spotted a gate that was decorated with hand written notes and personal items. It was reminiscent of the Gate at Kensington Palace after Princess Diana’s tragic accident. My first thoughts were that somebody died or was killed here and people were leaving their remembrances expressing their grief. I did see two other men at the gate talking about gate and the yard behind it. It looked undeveloped and I did not want to intrude so I asked no questions of the men.

As it turned out this was a graveyard from the early 1800’s with the remains of 148 people. It was discovered during a 1992 dig, for what purpose I do not know. More than 45 of the remains were found to be between 22 weeks gestation and seven days after birth. Sixteen of those found where under one year old. The adults were mostly women in their thirties and older. This has to be a telling illustration of what life must have been like during the time of Charles Dickens. We can easily say the women had a choice in their lives but I doubt that they did. The innocent babies had no choice in their outcome. I do not know how they died but they must have suffered immensely.

Often I find pleasurable gems in out of the way places, sometime I do not. I was glad that I did not know what this place was when I walked by as my holiday would have ended at that moment. May the lost souls of London be at peace and have refuge from the lives that they must have endured. From the BBC: and Kelvin Brown about Cross Bones Graveyard.