Date: Tuesday 11th April (various times)

Location: St James’s Church, 197 Piccadilly, London, W1J 9LL 

Cost: Free (booking essential) 


Book your place HERE

In the 18th and 19th centuries, Londoners had a number of options for their burials, based on what they could afford. From plain cheap coffin for paupers, paid for by the parish, to highly decorated and ornate lead lined coffins which were within financial reach of only the wealthy.

Wealthy Londoners also could afford protection. Resurrectionists, also known as ‘body-snatchers’, were digging up people who had recently died to sell their bodies to medical students, doctors, and surgeons who studied anatomy. People were so worried they even bought special coffins with metal cages, straps, and other ingenious protection features. Many of these were uncovered as part of HS2 archaeological excavations at St James’s Burial Ground, near Euston.

Join us at St James’s Church, Piccadilly to uncover this intriguing part of London’s history with Robert Hartle, burial expert and Senior Archaeologist at MOLA (Museum of London Archaeology). During the 45-minute workshop, you’ll take a closer look at some of the fascinating finds from the excavations, many of which are being shown to the public for the first time. This includes beautiful and unusual coffin decorations such as ornate lid motifs.

You will also have opportunities to speak to our archaeologists about the excavations, to take part in an arts activity to design your own embossed foil motif, based on finds from the excavation, and even help to uncover more information about the lives of people buried at St James’s Burial Ground through the historic documents that recorded the burial ground.


Fittings for the dead: The coffin furniture of St James’s Burial Ground is part of Stories of St James’s, a new, free exhibition for all the family, exploring discoveries made during HS2 excavations on the former St James’s Burial Ground near Euston.

With thanks to: 

HS2 Ltd 

Mace-Dragados JV

Costain-Skanska JV  

St James’s Church, Piccadilly 

Headland Archaeology