BOST launches crowd-funding campaign to transform paupers burial ground
This week’s International Woman’s Day (8 March) sees the launch of a community crowd-funding campaign to transform an unconsecrated paupers’ burial ground in South London into a public garden.
Crossbones Graveyard in Southwark, know formerly as the ‘Single Woman’s Churchyard’, has become a well-known landmark, thanks principally to its monumental gate adorned with ribbons and tokens, and featuring the words ‘RIP The Outcast Dead’. More than 15,000 bodies, half of which were those of children, are believed to be buried there.
Local charity Bankside Open Spaces Trust (BOST) has secured a three-year lease from landowner Transport for London (TfL) and will lead the campaign to transform this previously inaccessible space into ‘a meaningful garden’.
BOST is working closely with the Friends of Crossbones, led by local resident, poet and author of the The Southwark Mysteries, John Constable; who, in 1999, began a campaign to remember ‘the many forgotten dead buried at the site’. For the past 16 years, the group has held a monthly vigil at the memorial gates, renewing ribbons and tokens attached to them.
‘At a time when green public spaces are being swallowed up by new developments,’ John says, ‘we have the opportunity to establish this extraordinary place as a garden of remembrance, a community park and a unique cultural and historical resource in the heart of London.’
The campaign has already received support and funding from the Mayor of London’s Pocket Parks programme, with Mayor Boris Johnson stating that he ‘recognises the cultural and historic importance of the Crossbones burial ground’.
Its aim is to raise £30,000 for ‘the long-term vision of the raised garden’, the plans for which will be unveiled on 8 March.
‘Our vision is for a garden led by local people that shows respect to the many nameless women, children and men buried here, and provide a sensitive contemplative environment,’ says Nicola Desmond, BOST’s Crossbones project manager.’