On Redcross Way, in the heart of Southwark a stone's throw from London Bridge Station, lies an innocuous looking empty plot of concreted land... innocuous, that is, except for the plaque and shrine affixed to its gates. For this is the site of The Cross Bones graveyard
, a medieval burial ground for "single women" (prostitutes) known locally as Winchester Geese because they were licensed by the Bishop of Winchester to work within the Liberty of the Clink. Indeed, it was Saint Thomas Becket
himself who signed the ordinance allowing the Church to profit from the Stews (brothels)... these Geese were pimped in God's name during life, yet upon death were damned to burn in Hell on unconsecrated ground!
Cross Bones later became a pauper's cemetery, only closing in 1853 because it was completely overcharged with dead (the Museum of London estimate 15,000 bodies in mass graves). These outcast dead lay in a forgotten state of Purgatory until 1991 when excavations began for London Underground's Jubilee Line extension. Shortly thereafter local playwrite and shamanic bard, John Constable, was possessed by an alter ego (Jon Crow), lead to Cross Bones, and compelled to write the tale of The Goose and to right the injustice of Her profane internment. And so was born The Southwark Mysteries
, a modern mystery play that was last performed on stage at Southwark Cathedral in April 2010 (see here for photos
In parallel to the play, John launched a campaign
to have the Cross Bones officially recognised as a public place of remembrance, hence the plaque and shrine that adorn its gates (the site itself is privately owned by London Underground Ltd). The Celtic festival of Samhain
(known today as Halloween) is intimately connected with death and the remembering of ancestors... a most propitious time to honour The Goose and Her outcast dead (as representative of all Lost Souls everywhere, alive or otherwise).
This photo shoot is of the 13th Halloween of the Cross Bones, and the final one of the cycle in its current form. The night began at a venue in the tunnels beneath London Bridge Station for performance and ritual, culminating in a procession to Cross Bones where the names of those known to be buried there were read out and added to the shrine.
Here the veil between the worlds dissolves... the living and the dead share the brew, break the bread... ancestor souls converse and commune this samhain night by the light of a bone-white moon.