THE WATCH HOUSE

[box] St Marychurch Street | Rotherhithe, SE16[/box]

St Mary’s Church in Rotherhithe has been associated with the history of London and its connections with the river Thames and its cemetery. The Watch House coffee shop gets its name from its use as house to watch the graveyard to prevent grave robbing. The inside of the café is cosy and comfortable with a nice display of fresh bakery and a selection of cakes and sandwiches. The staff is pleasant and attentive. There is no need to stay indoors as the surrounding garden and front tables allow to enjoy the best of the area and the German influence of the menu adds that extra touch needed for something special.

Facts about The Watch House

The history of the Watch House goes back to 1821 when it was used by the local watchman or constable to watch out for wrongdoers, particularly body-snatchers raiding graves. Watchmen wearing white overcoats and carrying lanterns were meant to be seen and heard, they called the time and weather. Watchmen wearing blue were ‘silent’ and checked dark corners of the local area. This watch house consisted of 1 beadle, 1 constable and 14 watchmen. Bodysnatching was common in this area as surgeons at the local Guy’s hospital required fresh corpses and body parts for medical research. This practice was common around London and ‘Resurrection Men’ would take bodies from graves and disguise them as merchandise. Legally, only bodies of convicted criminals could be taken. In 1832, The Anatomy Act was passed, making it an offence to rob a grave. It was only legal to dissect the unclaimed bodies of people who had died in hospitals or poor houses. (Source: BBC)
St Mary's Free School and the Watch House The Watch House next to the Free School

 

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