Apart from the ribbons, the gates look as if they just lead on to yet another builder's yard, but they are the site of the medieval burial ground, the Crossbones Graveyard where the 'Winchester Geese' or prostitutes from local brothels were buried. In his 1603 Survey of London, Stow writes:
'I have heard of ancient men, of good credit, report that these single women were forbidden the rites of the church, so long as they continued that sinful life, and were excluded from Christian burial, if they were not reconciled before their death. And therefore there was a plot of ground called the Single Woman's churchyard, appointed for them far from the parish church.'
Now they are a shrine, with votive lights, ribbons, cards and gifts to commemorate both the 15000 women buried there, but also for all 'women on the street' throughout the ages.
Apparently the graveyard was forgotten about for many years until it was dug up for an electricity sub-station and the remains discovered. A proposal to build some offices there was turned down and now there are plans to turn it into a memorial garden, It's clear that it's not forgotten any more, but it still didn't seem peaceful to me. It's not too fanciful to say I felt a really deep sadness I just couldn't logically explain.
When I got home, I looked up the meaning of pyscho geography and from that essay (see the link), mooched along to this one.
Now I want to write about the idea of an emotion getting stuck in a place. I've had the experience of walking into a building before and just needing to leave, equally some houses make me feel immediately relaxed. I can't explain why, and I hadn't thought about the potential that this might have for writing or indeed, town planning.