Saturday, 13 August 2005

Dying Poor in Victorian London


Friedrich Engels

To live in Victorian London was very grim indeed, but to die there was a pretty nasty business too. Friedrich Engels, in his The Condition of the Working Class in England wrote about this in horrific detail, based on his experiences between November 1842 and August 1844.

"The corpses of the poor have no better fate than the carcases of animals. The pauper burial ground at St. Bride's is a piece of open marshland which has been used since Charles II's day and there are heaps of bones all over the place. Every Wednesday the remains of dead paupers are thrown into a hole which is 14 feet deep. A clergyman gabbles through the burial service and then the grave is filled with loose soil. On the following Wednesday the ground is opened again and this goes on until it is completely full. The whole neighbourhood is infected by the dreadful stench from this burial ground."

2 comments:

Ginger Mick said...

What use is made of 'the pauper burial ground at St Bride's ' to-day?

On the poverty issue, I have just finished re-reading Orwell's "Down and Out in Paris and London" and am begining "The Road to Wigan Pier". They are amazing tales of poverty in the fairly recent pass.

Alterior said...

Have a look at www.stbrides.com which says nothing of course about the burial grounds but only mentiones crypts.
St Bride's church is in the Fleet street area of London, where all the newspapers had their offices etc. before they moved to other offices in the 1980s, this was the journalistic and printing centre...The Times, The Telegraph, etc