Bath Union Workhouse Burial Ground, a field just off the Wellsway, Bath.
A burial ground that does not exist on a current map. Here over 3100 bodies lie in unmarked graves, the last remains of those who died of poverty in the Bath workhouse between 1858 and 1899.
Walking and reading the names of those buried there to the tolling of the Workhouse Bell. The first time their names have been spoken in that place since their burial. Each name, day by day, week by week and year by year of their burial.
In the low winter sun you can make out the mounds and depressions of the burials.
A makeshift memorial comes and goes in a place that once may have had something more permanent.
Visitors add flowers occasionally. We add to them.
We meet every first Sunday of the month.
As Covid-19 closed us down to isolation and social distancing, Walking the Names went online. An informal trawl of those who had joined the first few monthly walks resulted in nearly twenty walkers interested in taking part on line. Each walker was issued with a set of names from the Register of Burials at the Bath Union Workhouse burial ground. We read in our moment of exercise some on the site some elsewhere. Recorded readings were assembled to short videos and soundscapes available on the walknow website page listed below.
Our first virtual Walking the Names on Sunday April 5th was the day in which the government announced 708 dead from the virus. In May as the UK deathtoll from the virus officially reached 30000 the project continued. The June walks took place as the death toll exceeded 40,000. Many of the deaths were in carehomes, the modern homes of the old and the vulnerable, many of the deaths are of careworkers. There are resonances with those who died of poverty in the Victorian Workhouse and we reflect on contemporary responsibilities. Every names was a life. Every death a local tragedy. Walking and reading the names, recorded or not, breathes a momentary presence to that life.