Objects left on the gate of Crossbones Graveyard (Berns 2014)

The research in London is carried out by Dr Steph Berns in cooperation with Professor Kim Knott (both from Lancaster University).

The London project constitutes two spatially-specific components, the first in northern Southwark and the second in
Trafalgar Square, Westminster.

In northern Southwark, the research investigates three interrelated themes. First, the study explores how religious sites connect across space through mobile events such as parades, processions and guided walks. In doing so, we aim to map the ways these activities incorporate other religious and secular buildings, landmarks and communities. Second, this work examines how religious communities connect with other times within their locality, in terms of their local history and archaeology. Third, we analyse the processes through which the sites and their communities are made visible and material and what encounters these sights provoke.

Blessing of the River Thames
Blessing of the River Thames (Berns 2014)

Sites of interest within northern Southwark include:

  • Southwark Cathedral (the mother church of the Anglican Diocese of Southwark)
  • Crossbones Graveyard and Garden (a former paupers’ burial ground and medieval graveyard).
  • Baitul Aziz Islamic Cultural Centre (a mosque founded in the 1990s)

The location of these places of worship, along with related sites, are identified in the following map:


Eid Festival at Trafalgar Square (Berns 2015)

In Trafalgar Square, we are studying the interrelationship between the built environment and religious events. Trafalgar Square hosts a programme of cultural events that include, but are not exclusively, religious celebrations. By examining how the religious events explicitly and implicitly acknowledge their material environment, we argue that the events’ iconic status is both through association and in collaboration with the Square. This analysis centres on how the events celebrate their location by referring to the Square in speeches, by incorporating the Square’s landmarks in their physical use of the space, and by assigning the Square as the destination for processions. These activities suggest an interdependent relationship between the events and the Square, as the events need the Square to garner attention and acceptance. But the Square also needs these events to function as a cultural space and maintain its reputation as the heart of London and the physical focal point for many of the country’s defining celebrations, commemorations and demonstrations.

More images from events at Trafalgar Square:

‘Passion of Jesus’ in Trafalgar Square (Berns 2014)
‘Chanukah in the Square’ with Christmas tree (Berns 2014)