The church of St Leonard sits on a hillside in the pretty coastal town of Hythe in Kent, overlooking the English Channel. Its history goes back at least 900 years, perhaps even further – a lot of the churches in the area have pre-Norman origins. It’s a beautiful and imposing building – but if you visit the church’s crypt you will find yourself coming face to face with some unexpected people.
Originally a stretch of open land to the north of the City of London, Bunhill Fields got its name from its use as a burial ground during the Saxon period and a macabre event that took place in the mid-sixteenth century. Cartloads of bones from the charnel house at St Paul’s Cathedral were transported out of the city and dumped in such large quantities that they formed a hill of bones, with a thin layer of soil covering the mound. This “Bone Hill” was large enough to accomodate three windmills on top, which were presumably installed to make the most of the elevated ground.