Is this London playground located in a CEMETERY Britain’s creepiest play area?

Sarcophaguses, rows of tombstones and possessed statues are just some of the obstacles brave children have to overcome at play time in a London playground.

Such a dramatic backdrop wouldn’t seem out of place in Goosebumps fiction but this is the reality for families in south east London’s Rotherhithe.

In the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin, one go down the slide could send you flying feet-first into a gravestone, unsettling the residents who lie beneath.

creepy cemetary shocked child gravestonesWILL HE NEED TO CALL THE GHOSTBUSTERS? This chap keeps an eye out for anything that goes bump in the night

Located on the River Thames, Rotherhithe is best known as the original mooring point of The Pilgrim Fathers’ Mayflower ship.

Residents, however, will tell you St Mary’s is the setting of many spookier stories.

Mum-of-one Renée Perron, 40, said: “It does look creepy – it would be sacrilegious back home in Canada!”

“When I first saw it I thought it was funny but I’m used to it now and don’t find it creepy anymore.

“Although you definitely wouldn’t want to be there alone on a dark and stormy night, that would totally creep you out.”

creepy cemetery slide
HE’S BEHIND YOU! One creepy statue stares at children on the slide

Legend has it that a sarcophagus in the churchyard adorned with pig heads is the grave of ‘Mother Rachel’ who lost three children during labour and, stricken with grief, threw herself off the church tower.

It is said that if a pregnant woman dances around her tomb at midnight on a full moon, her baby will be born with a pig’s head.

St Mary’s is also the resting place of the six men who are believed to haunt the nearby Brunel tunnel after drowning there in the 1828 flood.

These tales don’t seem to bother children though, who have realised the gravestones are perfect for games of hide and seek and make great ghoul-posts for a kick about in the cemetery.

creepy cemetary footballWHO’S GOING IN GHOUL? This brave pair enjoy a kickabout in the play area

Adam Gajewska, 5, said: “I’m not even scared, I can punch the ghosts in the face.”

River currents used to drag corpses into a sluice at Rotherhithe known as the ‘Church Hole’ where they were fished out by bodysnatchers.

Brunel Museum director, Robert Hulse, explained that criminals would target rich men walking over Waterloo Bridge, mug them and dispose of the body by throwing it over the edge.

“There was certainly no shortage of dead bodies,” he said.

“This gave rise to grave diggers, but by taking a body to a mortuary or hospital you would immediately identify yourself as a suspect.

“It was dangerous and morbid work – Victorian under-life at its best and worst.”

creepy cemetary playground slide children playingSPOOKY: These brave tots play happily despite being surrounded by graves

Cadavers would then be taken across the road from St Mary’s to the mortuary where the hooks for draining dead bodies still hang from the beams in, what’s now, the community centre.

Opposite the churchyard is the St Mary Rotherhithe free school which shut in 1797.

The figurines of a girl and a boy still keep their vigil at the doorway and folklore says they swap places from time to time.

A fifth-generation resident and chair of the Rotherhithe and Bermondsey History Society, Claire Sexton, was told this tale as a child.

She said: “These stories have been passed down and at the age of 30 I still can’t look at the statues.”

But Rotherhithe’s spooky past need no longer unnerve people now the area’s youngest generation are ready to take on the walking dead.

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