Monday, 1 July 2013

The Outcast Dead

July 1stOn or around this day in 1506, a Royal ordinance attempted to suppress the “stews” or brothels of Southwark.  

The related “Crossbones Graveyard” site on Redcross Way is visited on our Thursday afternoon “Historic Southwark – Shakespeare’s London and more” walk.

“Crossbones Graveyard” is an unconsecrated burial ground where “The Outcast Dead”, including the prostitutes or “Winchester Geese”, who worked  in the nearby brothels licensed  by the  Bishops of Winchester, were interred, up until the nineteenth century.  A “Museum of London Archaeology Service” monograph describes in detail the findings of recent archaeological excavations at the site.  One of the excavated skeletons, of a  nineteenth-century woman,  aged only around sixteen to nineteen,  exhibited pathological indications of advanced syphilis.  Research undertaken for an episode of the BBC television series “History Cold Case” in 2010  indicated  that this skeleton was likely to be that of one Elizabeth Mitchell, who is recorded as having been admitted to nearby St Thomas’s Hospital suffering from the running sores all over the body symptomatic of advanced syphilis, and as having died there, on 22nd August 1851, aged nineteen.

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