On Redcross Way, a tranquil back-street running parallel to Borough High Street, there's a plot of land surrounded by London Underground hoardings. There's a big rusty iron gate adorned with ivy, ribbons, flowers, feathers, jewellery and other curious totems – and with a bronze plaque bearing the epitaph: 'R.I.P. The Outcast Dead'. This is Cross Bones, a pauper's burial ground with a legend going back to medieval times.
Over the past decade, the iron gates in Redcross Way have been transformed into a people’s shrine, a living communal art-work. People of all faiths and none have left messages and mementoes, testifying to its power as a truly inclusive sacred place, dedicated to a vision of a shared humanity. Since 2004, an informal Friends of Cross Bones group has held a 7pm vigil at the gates in Redcross Way on the 23rd day of each month. People come from all walks of life to 'remember the outcast' and to replenish the spontaneous shrine with fresh flowers and other tokens.
The shrine at the gates already attracts over 50,000 visitors a year; it features in many guidebooks, on guided tours and in television coverage of the vigils held by local people.