St Saviours Southwark
Additional information taken from Southwark's Burial Places by kind permission of author Mr Ron Woollacott.
vault, called the Bishop's vault, runs underneath the church yard. Light
and air are admitted from the burial ground, through an iron grating.
The entrance to this vault is through the " Ladye Chapel ;"
the roof is arched over with brick-work. The coffins are piled upon one
another, but the burying in lead is left to the option of the party
concerned in the funeral; the smell here is more offensive than in the
(Gatherings from Graveyards, Walker, 1839)
Very early photograph of College Ground from the 1860s, just before the railway destroyed it.
The site today
Bones ground today
Help save the Cross Bones burial ground! Explore its history and sign the petition at www.crossbones.org.uk
And now . . .
View of 1819
Southwark fire station, garden to the right.
Friends' Burial -ground, Worcester Street (Now
Destroyed when the Railway to Charing Cross was constructed in 1860, and by the construction of Southwark Street. Bodies removed to Long Lane Quaker Ground... but not all. 9 bodies were found on this site during work on the Jubilee Line Extension in October 1994. Scruffy car park on the corner of Southwark Street and O'Meara Street might be a remnant of the ground. There is a 19th century Catholic Church to the South with a garden that might overlap part of the ground.
a late hour on Wednesday night, the neighbourhood of Ewer Street, In the
Borough, was thrown into great confusion by the report that an attempt
had been made by two of that by now very numerous body called 'bodysnatchers'
to disinter the body of a child at Crawford's private burial ground in
Yesterday the two accused persons, whose names are george Harris and Thomas Wallis, were conducted in the midst of an immense multitude to the office, and charged with having attempted to commit the odious robbery. Another person was suspected of having been concerned.
John McDonnel, watchman of the Clink Liberty, stated, that in consequence of information which he had received that some of the graves were to be opened on Wednesday night, In Crawford's burial ground, he went, accompanied by other watchmen, to the vicinity of the scene of action, at half past 12 o'clock, and heard a noise like scrambling over a wall. Upon making a proper search, they found thr two prisoners concealed in a privy adjoining the burial ground, and were convinced that an interruption was thuis given to the work of raising up a dead body, for a newly-made grave had been partly emptied of the earth.
The magistrate called upon the prisoners to account for their presence in a place where they could have had no business at any hour of the night.
Harris at once admitted that he had gone to the burial ground, accompanied by his 'mate', for the purpose of getting hold of the body of a child that had died a few days before; and he rgretted that he had been disturbed in his business by the watchman on the night in question. He hoped, however, it would not be considered a felony, when he assured the magistrate that he had received full permission from the gravedigger, John Hill, to take possession of the corpse. A bargain had been made between them the night before, at the Roebuck public house, over six pots of half and half, and the gravedigger told him the exact spot there the child was to be got at, at the same time assuring him that the thing could be done with ease, as the coffin was just fit for gentlemen of his description, being kept together by slight tacks, which would soon give way to a pickaxe. The gravedigger gave him some other information, which comprehended, amongst many important instructions, the easiest method of gaining access to the ground; and promised him the soap impression of the key of the vault, where respectable bodies could always be got at. This kindness ended, upon the part of the gravedigger, with the information that a tall Irishman, who died of a surfeit, was to be shoved into the ground on Thursday, and would be excellent for the knife. Fve shillings was then put into the hands of the gravedigger, as a recompense for this service, and Harris and Wallis proceeded to the grave at the proper hour and with the proper implements. They had just commenced operations when they heard a hue and cry, upon which they made the best of their way over the wall, there being no hole in the ground in which they could hide themselves - for they would rather wade through a river than be taken in such a business. They knew how they got into a mess; for Bill Hollis and Murphy, who were at the head of the profession, knew their success, envied them their increasing business, and lay in wait and had a 'down' on them in all directions.
Mr Allen, upon hearing this defence, sent for the gravedigger, who soon made his appearance, accompanied by Mr Wild, the undertaker, and the owner of the burial ground.
Hill upon being confronted by his accusers, opened his eyes to the utmost stretch, and declared, with the most sanctified look, and in a corresponding tone, that the gentlemen must be mistaken, for he had never before seen them. The 'gentlemen', however, persisted in declaring that the truth had been spoken, and they were corroborated in their assertion by the servant girl at the Roebuck, who, upon looking at the parties, said most positvely that she had sen the gravedigger and the two 'gentlemen' drinking together on the night the bargain was made, at the rate of two pots a man. Upon hearing these tidings, the gravedigger became greatly agitated; he denied the fact of having joined in the conspiracy against the dead, but he admitted that he now recollected having seem the prisoners once before in Crawford's burial ground.
The Magistrate observed, that there was very little doubt of the part taken by the gravedigger in the traffic now going on to such extent amongst the profession; and ordered that he should be placed at the bar with his companions.
The three prisoners were then ordered to find bail, in default of which they were committed to prison.
(The Times, November 22nd 1822)
EWER STREET CHAPEL AND BURYING GROUND, at the bottom of Union Street, Borough.- The burying ground appears to have been raised nearly six feet from the original surface, and is literally surcharged with dead; it is now closed, and presents a very repulsive aspect. It might be instructive to know the number of bodies here inhumed; perhaps, - but dead men tell no tales, - the exhumed might present a formidable array. The vicinity is disgustingly dirty.
It appears that when the viaduct was built (1840's?) the contractors came across the graveyard, said nothing and moved the graves which were in the way of the piers, resulting in a lot of the bodies being reburied standing up and bones just jumbled up together very close to the surface.
(From Se1 community website forum 2002)
Site of ground in Ewer St 2002
Town Hall Chambers - another bank that turned into a wine bar.