There are no names on the cross, no fancy markings and the inscription is barely legible yet this simple headstone marks the mass grave of forty three ‘strangers’ who died from cholera in 1849.
Cholera had been sweeping the British Isles for two years, thriving amongst the squalid conditions of the lower classes and killing up to 2,000 people each week. One of the worst hit sectors were Kent’s hop pickers who lived, if they were lucky, in a twelve foot square hut made from brick or corrugated tin each September. Straw covered the floor and up to ten people squeezed into each hut. Primitive communal washing and cooking facilities were on offer but despite the pickers’ attempts to keep themselves and their huts clean, illness was rife.
Pickers, known as ‘strangers’, came from all over. Many travelled down from the East End but it’s believed the people now buried…
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