Virtual Tour

Area 6 (Churchyard and Herb Garden)

Churchyard grounds

Burials have long-ceased, although the internment of ashes still take place here.

The grounds are planted with Shakespearian and Biblical planting.

Memorial to Mahomet Weyonomon

The Queen unveiling the Memorial to Mahomet Weyonomon

The Queen unveiling the Memorial to Mahomet Weyonomon

On 22 November 2006 HM The Queen accompanied by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh visited the Cathedral to unveil a granite boulder from Connecticut in the churchyard to commemorate the Sachem Mahomet Weyonomon carved by Peter Randall Page.

Who? You may ask. The story goes back to an entry in the Daily Journal for August 11th, 1736:

On Sunday last about one o'clock in the Morning died of the Small Pox, in the 36th Yeare of his Age, Mahomet Weyonomon, Sachem of the Tribe of the Mohegans in the Province of Connecticut in New England. He was Great Grandson to the famous Sachem Uncafs or Onkafs, who took part with the English upon their firft fettling of that Country. He was very decently interred laft Night (from his Lodgings at Mr Midhurst's in Aldermanbury) in St Mary Over's Burial-place.

The background to the story is the familiar colonial tale of settlers appropriating the land belonging to the original native population. In this case it was the tribal lands belonging to the Mohegans in Connecticut. When the settlers first took the land, Mahomet's grandfather Oweneco came to England to petition Queen Anne. The Queen ordered a commission who found in favour of the Indians that they were unjustly deprived of their lands and the governor and company of the Colony of Connecticut was ordered to return the lands. Not only was this ignored but further encroachments took place to the point where the Mohegans were unable to subsist on the remaining territory.

Memorial to Mahomet Weyonomon

Memorial to Mahomet Weyonomon

So in 1735 Mahomet Weyomon accompanied by John Mason, his son Samuel, and Zachary Johnson came to London to petition King George II for restoration of their lands.  They lodged in the City in the Ward of St Mary Aldermanbury.  But before they could present the petition the whole party died of smallpox. The city authorities were happy to bury Mahomet's European companions in the City but Mahomet had to be buried in the churchyard of St Mary Overy. It was quite a common custom at that time for burials to take place at night and we may imagine what a dramatic spectacle it was when the body was brought by torchlight over London Bridge.

What kind of funeral it was may be the subject of speculation. When a Cree Indian was buried in the churchyard of St John the Evangelist, Westminster (in Horseferry Road) in 1734 his friends carried out the rites customary to his native land. They sewed the body in a blanket, bound between two deal boards; all of his garments, some pieces of silver, quantities of glass beads and, his personal belongings were cast into the grave and buried with him. His brother-in-law the ninety year-old chief Tomochichi and some of the other chiefs, with the upper churchwarden and the gravedigger attended.

At the unveiling ceremony in November 2006, present with the Queen was the tribal chairman Bruce Two Dogs Bozsum and other members of the tribe. An audience with the monarch that failed in 1735 was finally achieved.

It is the Mohegan Indian custom to erect a boulder to commemorate a chief on his death. The pink granite boulder from Connecticut has been carved with Mohegan symbols by the distinguished British sculptor Peter Randall Page. There is a commemorative inscription and an interpretation panel close by. Our relationship with the USA, already firmly fixed through the John Harvard connections is additionally strengthened by this act of restitution.

The Herb Garden

Following the completion of the re-roofing of the Retro choir of the Cathedral the ‘monastic’ herb garden at the east end of the Cathedral has been reinstated. As the plants grow you will be able to see the kind of herbs that the canons of the Priory of St Mary Overie would have used as they cared for the sick of the area. It was from here that St Thomas’ Hospital was established.

The replanting of the herb garden was undertaken by Walworth Garden Farm Walworth Garden Farm is a local charity and social enterprise that has been in operation since 1987, providing environmental education, training in horticulture, beekeeping courses and garden maintenance services. The Cathedral is delighted that the grounds are maintained by them, thus supporting those who are developing gardening skills. The pictures show the work undertaken.