Investigation of former hospital and workhouse site reveals intact human burial remains

An archaeological investigation at the Middlesex Hospital Annex and former Strand Union Workhouse site has recovered 55 intact human burials dating from 1780 to 1853 from three test trenches dug into the ground.

One of the burials found in a trench dug along the south cemetery wall. Source: Museum of London Archaeology.

The findings are revealed in a report by Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) which concludes that “archaeological deposits survive extensively across the site, in the form of articulated burials linked to the workhouse cemetery and deep cess pits and quarry pits”.

A previous report by MOLA anticipated that human remains would be found as parish burial records suggest that “the total number of interments made at the site might be between 9,000 and 10,000″. But uncertainty was expressed as to how many remains had been removed after the workhouse closed and the building became an extension of the Middlesex Hospital.

The site in Cleveland Street, Fitzrovia is currently being redeveloped for housing and offices by University College London Hospitals (UCLH) Charity and the archaeological survey was a requirement of the planning permission given by Camden Council.

As a new basement is to be dug as part of the redevelopment plans it would remove all of the surviving archaeological deposits, and a controlled excavation of the yet-to-be-found human remains and historical finds would have to be undertaken in advance of any groundworks on site.

A decision on how this is to be done rests with Greater London Archaeological Advisory Service and Camden Council, states the report.

Archaeological Evaluation Report as required by condition 6 of planning permission reference 2017/0414/P (dated 15/01/2018) for “Refurbishment of the existing Workhouse and North and South Houses, part demolition of the South House and redevelopment of the remainder of the site.”

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