Crossbones Bulletin – March

Here’s the March newsletter by Bankside Open Spaces Trust who maintain the Garden of Remembrance at Cross Bones Graveyard. For regular monthly updates on what’s happening, please subscribe to the newsletter via this page on the website (it’s free and you get to see all the photos):

“We know what we are protecting: the country, the land, the future of our children.” Volodymyr Zelensky.
Fundraising for Ukraine
Crossbones supporter, Caroline Grimshaw, is generously donating her time to launch a Ukraine fundraising campaign at Crossbones Graveyard. Details to be confirmed, but it will likely be as soon as it can be arranged, on Saturday 26th March or Sunday 27th March.  If you’d like to get involved, please let me know and I’ll pass on your contact details to Caroline.

BBC Radio 4 Gardeners’ Question time visits Crossbones, broadcast on 25th February                            
Crossbones researcher Lucy Colman-Talbot, who recently completed her PhD, and I, were delighted to welcome BBC Radio 4 Gardeners’ Question Time team to a very chilly Crossbones last month. It was wonderful being able to explain the Graveyard’s history and the garden’s evolution. The episode is available here…from 12 mins 33 seconds! We’ve had a huge amount of interest since the episode was broadcast and lots more subscribers – welcome to the Crossbones community those of you who have just joined!

Events at Crossbones: March and April
The spring weather has brought a flurry of proposals for activities at Crossbones Graveyard – read on!

Celebrating International Women’s Day: Tuesday 8th March                    
Join staff and friends of The Bridge in celebrating International Women’s Day 2022, (8th March 2022) with a guided walk around the local area. The walk will start from The Bridge Café at 2 pm, finishing around 3:45pm/4.00pm at Crossbones Graveyard. The walk will help you build muscle, make new friends and learn some interesting facts about important women and historical figures from the local area. See The Bridge website for more details.  Many thanks to volunteer wardens Emma and Michael for facilitating this event!

Vocal Workshop with the Outside Project: Saturday 9th April 2-4pm
One of our local community partners, The Outside Project, is arranging a free vocal workshop from qualified speech and language therapists for trans, gender variant and questioning people. We’re delighted to be hosting at Crossbones on Saturday 9th April. Please email if you’d like to sign up. 

Imagined Portraits at Crossbones: Wed 6th April, Fri 8th April, Saturday 9th April 12pm-2pm. 
How can we commemorate people whom history has erased? 
Many of the people buried at Crossbones have left no traces behind them in historical records. We don’t know their names, we can’t see their faces, but we know they existed. They were buried here because medieval society considered them outcasts.
Join artist Minnie Scott in a project to picture the outcast dead as individuals.
Sit in the garden and see who comes to mind. Draw or write your imagined portrait and then hang it up on a branch as an act of creative commemoration.

Born Free Exhibition at Waterloo Millennium Green
Those of you following BOST on social media will have seen the new exhibition, celebrating the Year of the Lion that we’re hosting with the charity Born Free at Waterloo Millennium Green, SE1 7BE. A reminder to visit and make a donation to this worthy cause if you can. This stunning exhibition will be at the Green until the  middle of this month.

Crossbones gardening
As spring finally arrives, the daffodils and crocuses are blooming and the birds are singing in the goat willows at Crossbones.  We were visited by a sad looking fox as well this week, who seems to be taking refuge at Crossbones.
Our gardening team has been busy tidying the garden after Sotrm Eunice.  Fortunately, Crossbones was left relatively intact, with just the pretty yellow Coronilla in the hop garden needing a prune and tying back in. To cheer up the garden during the recent grey weather, volunteers Priti and Caroline have been hanging Crossbones banners which were previously donated to the space. Ginny, Axel and Didi have been clearing debris from the ponds ahead of the frogs laying their spawn. We were sad to say goodbye to Axel in February, as he is shortly moving out of London. Thanks for all your help Axel and please stay in touch!
Thanks again to our wonderful team of volunteer gardeners who take care of the Graveyard every Friday 12-2pm, lead by Barney.  If you’d like to volunteer your time as a Crossbones warden or gardener, please get in contact:

Crossbones Opening hours
Crossbones is open Wed, Thurs, Fri 12-2pm and some weekends when our fantastic volunteer wardens are available.  If you’d like to become a warden, and help us extend our opening hours, please let me know.

Thanks to the generosity of our visitors, and our wardens for opening the garden, we received £65 of on-site donations during February, despite the erratic weather.

Crossbones Vision detailed design and construction workshops
I know there are many new subscribers since the last bulletin, so I’ll bring you up to speed on these workshops! We’ve hosted the first five of a series of workshops, in collaboration with U+I (the developer responsible for the Liberty of Southwark development next to Crossbones and who will one day be our new landlord) which will explore how we create our Vision for Crossbones, and help to ensure that contractors working on site do so with sensitivity. 

Our first workshop (Friday 12th November 2021) was held at the Liberty of Southwark site which is next to Crossbones. MOLA Archaeologist Antonietta gave us a talk about the fascinating discoveries made on the site. You can follow the dig here

The second workshop (Saturday 27th November 2021) looked at the proposed construction of the boundaries on site. Sculptor Adrian joined us and shared his experience of metalworking and we looked at ways of involving the community in both the design of the boundaries and possibly even contribute to the features on the boundaries through community workshops.  You can read the notes from the workshop here.

Note that the ribboned railings/’gates’ did not form part of the Boundaries workshop and will not be forming part of the Crossbones enhancements. TfL states:
“TfL have reviewed the ribboned gates and advised that there are no urgent works to be undertaken.”

The third workshop (Saturday 4th December 2021) looked at the proposed structures on site: new ramps, a new goosewing shelter to mirror the existing one, as well as new shelters. You can read the notes here.
Volunteer warden Simon gave a talk on the history of ramps and shared his thought-provoking poem Wheel, which details his experience of the city as a wheelchair user. 
Joel from YesMake was on hand to answer questions and listen to ideas about what the new ramps and shelters should be like. 

The fourth workshop (Friday 14th Jan 2022) looked at surfacing on site and a little more at the new ramps and steps. You can read the notes here and the accompanying drawings here and here.

The fifth workshop (Friday 11th Feb 2022) recapped on the surfacing and also looked at Events and Visitor circulation and we looked at storage, seating and proposed new planting. You can read the notes here and the accompanying drawings here.

The last workshop will likely be arranged in April 2022 – we’ll be looking at water and electricity and a summary of our discussions.

Crossbones Vigil
Don’t forget that the Crossbones Vigil, held by Friends of Crossbones is on 23rd of every month at 7pm outside the gates on Redcross Way. For more information see:

This month’s Crossbones recipe: Gluten-free Ukrainian Honey cake
I made this for one of my best friends in London, Stefania and her son Adam, who are Ukrainian, on the day of the invasion. We light a candle every night at 8pm for her family who are still there. I’ll be lighting one tomorrow at Crossbones.

Although this recipe is not Vegan, you can replace the honey with golden syrup and the egg with a Vegan substitute such as x 2 puréed apple.

1 cup honey/golden syrup, gently warmed until runny
4 eggs / 2 x apple beaten
1 1⁄2 cups gluten-free self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp Xanthan gum

Beat the honey/syrup and the eggs/apple together until frothy. Sift together the flour, Xanthan gum and baking powder. Fold into the honey and egg mixture.  Pour the batter into a greased and lined 7 inch cake pan and bake at 180C for about 25 minutes until it shrinks slightly from the sides. It’s supposed to be slightly gooey when you cut it. Pour a few tablespoons of honey/syrup over the cake whilst still warm. Best served warm.

Got an idea?
As always, the best way to ‘weave Crossbones into the fabric of SE1’ is to get people involved on site. If you have an idea for an event, installation, tour, or other activity / initiative, I’d be delighted if you would get in contact with me via email, phone, WhatsApp, Signal etc. I’m also aiming to be on site most Fridays 12pm-2pm when the gardening team is there, so let me know if you have a positive way of spreading the Crossbones story, and you’d like to speak to me in person. 

Liberty of Southwark development
For those of you receiving this bulletin for the first time, the Liberty of Southwark development is the one adjacent to Crossbones and an exciting archaeological dig is currently being undertaken. 
Many of you will have heard the recent and exciting discoveries made in February 2022 and may even have been lucky enough to attend a tour on site and see the tremendous Roman mosaic which has received a huge amount of publicity
You can also view the blog here and contact with the developer directly for information about the works on the site: 

Best wishes

Hej and the team at Bankside Open Spaces Trust