ARE THE CELEBRATIONS OF THE REMAINS OF ANCIENT PROSTITUTES BURIED AT THE CROSS BONE CEMETERY IN LONDON BEING FAIRLY CRITICIZED BY FEMINISTS?

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Over 15,000 bodies are buried in an ancient cemetery known as “Cross Bones” located roughly in London. While the age of the cemetery is unknown, some early writers in the 15th century mused about the prostitutes, single girls (usually orphans) and paupers who were more or less deposited in this poor side of the town. Official operations of the cemetery have been shut down for the past 150 years but  construction workers uncovered dozens of skulls and bones in the 1990’s which has ignited a fresh interest in the history of the site. The cemetery has quickly gained cult-like fame amongst among locals and tourists- “Friends of Crossbones”, a local group known to uphold the sanctity of the grounds, has continued to hold regular vigils there since 2004, and the site is a regular tourist stop known for eerie celebrations, particularly around Halloween, where visitors can expect guided tours and talks about the history of the cemetery. Brothels or “Stews” were licensed by Henry II and regulated by Bishops who collected fees and fines paid for by the licensees. Many prostitutes, who became known as “Winchester Geese” mainly because they were licensed by the Bishop of Winchester, swarmed to the area. Poverty and abandonment often forced women to fend for themselves with prostitution being one of the few options available to them. Disease caused the Kings and Bishops to enact rules to prevent the spread of such contagions often with little success. Paramours were frowned upon- a woman could be fined and punished if she took up with one. These days, advocates and supporters of the Crossbones celebrations often clash with feminists over whether prostitution in general is a celebratory matter as opposed to a practice smacking of misogyny and coercion; coalitions of sex-workers take issue with such feminist attacks and widely support the Cross Bone backers and the lonely and poor women notwithstanding.  Meanwhile, it appears that any construction developments at the site will have to allow some space to honor the cemetery and all those buried there.

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