St James’s Gardens on Cardington Street has not been used as a cemetery for a long time and was turned into public gardens in 1887. It has become a victim of the HS2 train line, a controversial subject and one that stirs emotion in many residents in the Camden area as well as villages along the planned route.
The archaeological dig here has started moving some 60,000 bodies from the largest post-medieval cemetery this city has ever seen. The first recorded burial took place in 1790.
Objects already found at other sites along the route, include flint and weapons from what they believe to be hunter gatherers at a site in Hillingdon, North London.
Other digs have also taken place on the route including a medieval manor in Wiltshire and a Romano British town in Fleet Marston. However in this amazing spot in London, there have been many famous burials uncovered in this graveyard.
Lord George Gordon – British Political Activist
He was famous for his part in what became known as the Anti-Catholic Gordon riots 1781. The riot lasted a week, had 500 casualties, and ended in him being tried for high treason.
He eventually died in Newgate prison.
Gordon Square opposite is named after Georgina Gordon, his niece. She was a feminist and musician of the day and later married the Artist Landseer who created the lions in Trafalgar square.
Christie – Auctioneer Family
There are several members of the Christie family buried here. Some were members of the Admiralty. The gravestones still left in St James’s Garden mention them living in King Street Mayfair where the Christies Auction House remains today.
Bill Richmond – Boxer (1763 – 1829)
Born a slave in New York, Bill served during the revolutionary war with General Percy who brought him back to England and who sent him to school in Yorkshire. He was insulted by another soldier, Richmond, and promptly had a fight and thus begun his career as a boxer.
He had a total of 19 fights, he won 17 and lost 2. All of his fights took place in UK and he became known as the Black Terror.
He was one of the worlds first black superstars in sport. He so impressed the court of George IV, and was 36 when he had his first professional career. He married and ended up buying a pub in London’s Leicester Square, and he also became a cricketer.
Captain Matthew Flinders (1774 – 1814)
English Navigator and Cartographer. Captain Flinders lead the first circumnavigation of Australia, and identified it as a continent.
He has a ship named after him today, The Captain Matthew Flinders, one of the largest and grandest of all ships in Toronto. Stunning from bow to Stern and part of Mariposa Cruises.
It is easy to forget all of the amazing people that have passed through this amazing city of London. People from all over the world who have influenced and made a difference. I do hope that all of the amazing stories of the 60,000 people buried and their headstones are not forgotten. The Guides at BTTL will try to ensure these names are remembered and their stories retold.