Celebrations for the outcast dead

LONDON — The Southwark district has long had an association with the esoteric world, being the home of 20th-century occultist Austin Osman Spare and (before the fire which ravaged it) the Cuming Museum, which housed the Lovett collection of magical artifacts. More recently one of its hidden gems has become the focus of a small but dedicated following among British Pagans, occultists, and indeed Christians and members of other religious groups. This is an example of several events and gatherings which are not part of any organized inter-faith movement in the U.K., but which have developed organically across Pagan, Christian and other religious groups. This particular place is the cemetery of Cross Bones, dating from the medieval period. It is a graveyard for the outcast dead; mainly the medieval prostitutes of Southwark who were known as the ‘Winchester geese’ (as they were licensed by the Bishop of Winchester) ,and who worked in the area known as the Mint, one of Southwark’s worst slums. They were licensed to work in the Liberty of the Clink, which lay beyond the law of the city of London.

Column: Island of the Forgotten Dead

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