Wednesday, 3 October 2012

St Mary Magdalene's Churchyard

Back in 2003, as a result of a phone call from a concerned member of the public, Southwark Council visited St Mary Magdalene's Churchyard and examined what lay behind a very fine hoarding at the northern boundary of the Churchyard.

The hoarding itself was perfectly legitimate, having been covered by an agreement between Southwark Council and the adjacent owner/developer. What wasn't quite so legitimate was what lay behind the hoarding.............................

Behind the hoarding was a concrete terrace which was an extension, into the churchyard, from the adjacent development. The terrace was some 27m by 4m and extended downward by more than 2m. To construct this structure, an equivalent cubic amount of the churchyard had been removed and with that went what are known as 'disaggregated remains' ie skeletal remains of those buried in the churchyard in the years before the churchyard was deconsecrated. (As I understand it, the disturbance or removal of 'disaggregated remains' is a criminal offence.) 

This was a good example of the conflict between development and public spaces, particularly when public spaces, such as churchyards and parks, no longer have the attention of staff who know their boundaries. Developers understand this.

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