St Bride's - through the secret door
If anyone reading this has been on one of my walks, you'll know I'm a fan of exploring places and uncovering things, going inside buildings and the like. The day I walked into St Bride's just off Fleet Street was a good day. It's famous for its spire, and often people just gawp up at it from outside, then move on. The church, although massively re-built after a couple of German incendiary bombs plunged through the roof during the blitz is a treasure trove of history; a Roman pavement (discovered thanks to the bombs), a mini museum in the crypt, associations with the printing industry, Samuel Pepys was born next door and lots of other fascinating bits and pieces.
However, I've spotted on a couple of occasions, people coming in and out of a locked door in the crypt, not open to the public. The other afternoon, I went along to one of the guided tours the church does on select Tuesdays in the hope that aside from learning some more stuff about the church, we might be taken through the secret door.
We were. Basically, after walking through a kitchenette, boxes and general paraphernalia accumulated over the last few hundred years, a door opens into a room, which is laden with skulls and assorted bones, some half buried in the earth. Apparently estimated at nearly 7000 human remains.
Then, the next room is much more ordered. Some 200 remains have been collected, identified, boxed, labelled and stored in cardboard boxes and stacked from floor to ceiling.
A detailed register is also on hand which gives names, dates, occupation, abode and cause of death for those now residing in the cardboard boxes. It's a fascinating, if not slightly morbid glimpse of London's past and one which has been important for research; forensically, medically and historically.
After only a cursory glance at the register, I noticed one unfortunate gentleman named John Lucas, a coal merchant who died in 1790. According to the cause of death, his demise was ... 'suddenly, by getting up in a hot night and refreshing himself at his chamber window.'
Bowl Of Chalk
Bowl Of Chalk based shenanigans.