(Photo: Celia Lowe)
According to local lore, Crossbones was once the burial ground for the 'single women', also known as 'Winchester Geese' who worked in Bankside's stews (brothels) licensed by the Bishop of Winchester. The story of The Geese and their connection with Crossbones was revived in The Southwark Mysteries
by John Constable, which in turn inspired performances, vigils, the world-famous shrine to 'the outcast dead' on Redcross Way and the creation of an 'invisible garden' on the old burial ground.
More than 60% of the burials at the site were paupers' children. Friends of Crossbones campaigned for many years to open the site as a garden of remembrance. BOST now has a three-year lease for this historic site from Transport for London and works in partnership with the Friends of Crossbones to enhance the garden, create educational activities and events and steer it towards being a permanent garden of remembrance.
The present garden retains many original features of the 'invisible garden'. New features include the stunning 'goose-wing' entrance way, designed and built by artist Arthur de Mowbray and the honey-coloured Cotswold limestone walls built by volunteers under the guiding hand of John Holt from the London School of Drystone Walling.
The layout of the beds and planting was established by landscape architect Helen John, co-designed with the community. Pastel shades to evoke the 'feminine' decorate the edge of the garden. Plants with red, white and deep-purple flowers and distinctive foliage burst through the existing broken 'strip' (the original archaeological trench dug here in the 1990s, which exposed the soil) representing the lives and energies of the people buried here and those we wish to remember.
The foundations of Winchester Palace, off nearby Clink Street, have been planted up as a garden (also managed by Bankside Open Spaces Trust).
Volunteer Garden Warden: