Today’s Entombed Yet Truly Morbid Fact!
When Sir Christopher Wren was commissioned to rebuild St. Paul’s Cathedral after it had been destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1666, he made an astonishing discovery. As Mrs. Isabella Holmes reveals in her marvelous book of 1898, The London Burial Grounds:
“Upon digging the foundation of the present fabrick [sic] of St. Paul’s, he found under the graves of the latter ages, in a row below them, the Burial-places of the Saxon times – the Saxons, as it appeared, were accustomed to line their graves with chalkstones, though some more eminent were entombed in coffins of whole stones. Below these were British graves, where they found ivory and wooden pins of a hard wood, seemingly, box, in abundance, of about six inches long; it seems the bodies were only wrapped up, and pinned in wooden shrouds, which being consumed, the pins remained entire. In the same row, and deeper, were Roman urns intermixed. This was eighteen feet deep or more, and belonged to the colony, where Romans and Britons lived and died together.”
Wren’s discovery reminds us that London is one giant grave. So many generations have lived and died here within such a small span – pagan, Roman, medieval, Victorian – and left intriguing traces of their lives: like the skulls of Romans, murdered by Boudicca, recovered from the Thames, and the clay pipes of plague victims, discovered during excavations for the Piccadilly Line. In fact, the tunnel curves between Knightsbridge and South Kensington stations because it was impossible to drill through the mass of skeletal remains buried in Hyde Park. London, from six feet under, is not just Cobbett’s ‘Great Wen’, it is the city a horrified young Thomas Carlyle dubbed ‘the Great Maw’!
Culled from: Necropolis: London and its Dead
New York Noir Du Jour!
New York Noir: Crime Photos from the Daily News Archive by William Hannigan is a wonderful collection of, wait for it, crime photos from the Daily News archive that date from the 1920s to the 1950s. Here’s an image from the book:
Gang Gets Revenge. Detectives examine body of Louis Cohen, put on spot in Lewis St., between Broome and Grand Sts., last night. Circle: his gun. He killed Kid Dropper 15 years ago.
(Kid Dropper! Isn’t that a great name? I get the image of a comic book villain dropping brats off rooftops. But that’s just me… – DeSpair)
I just stumbled upon Autopsyfiles.Org while fixing a broken link to the Caylee Anthony Autopsy Report on an old blog entry, and what a treasure trove it is! If you’re like me and you can’t get enough of these things, you’ll be stuck here for hours! Everyone from Martin Luther King, Jr. to Karen Carpenter to Bonnie and Clyde to Michael Jackson, all in one handy location!
As I’ve said before, one of my greatest sadnesses in life is knowing that I’ll never get to read my own autopsy report. Sigh…