Last week I took a little detour to visit the delightful St Pancras Old Church which is quietly tucked away behind St Pancras International Station. Although adjacent to the busy main railway line it's a peaceful, little oasis.
It’s believed to be one of the oldest sites of Christian worship in England, dating back to 314 AD, although the church one sees today was restored in the Victorian period. It became known as Old when the new church was built in nearby Euston Road. The church and neighbouring railway station are both named after a child martyr beheaded in Rome for his Christian faith.
Burdett Coutts Memorial Sundial
The surrounding gardens, which were originally the burial ground, are worth exploring as there are many interesting features.
At one of the entrances to the gardens is the impressive Burdett Coutts Memorial Sundial, a large gothic style pinncale with mosaic decoration round its base. Angela Burdett Coutts was reputedly once the wealthiest women in England when she inherited her grandfather’s fortune. She was a supporter of a variety of philanthropic causes, a pioneer of social housing and a patron of the arts. She also funded fountains in Victoria Park, East London and one in Edinburgh in memory of Greyfriars Bobby.
The Hardy Tree
In the 1860s when the Midland Railway line was built over part of the churchyard, the task of supervising the removal of the bodies and the dismantling of the gravestones was given to the author Thomas Hardy. He was at the time an architect’s apprentice working for Arthur Blomfield. It was about this time that gravestones were placed around the tree which today known as the Hardy Tree.
The Soane Memorial
The Soane Memorial was designed by John Soane, architect, for his wife Elizabeth when she died in 1815. Soane himself was buried there in 1837. The central domed canopy inspired Giles Gilbert Scott's design of the red K2 telephone boxes.
Address: St Pancras Old Church Pancras Road London NW1 1UL
Nearest Tube/ Train Station: King's Cross or St Pancras International (Zone1)
Website: http://www.posp.co.uk/old-st-pancras/ (Church)
The author of this blog is a qualified City of London and City of Westminster Tour Guide who leads guided walks combining world famous landmarks with hidden treasures often missed by the crowds.