Author: Julie, 21/07/2016
St Pancras is an area of London. For many centuries the name was used for various officially-designated areas, but it is now used mainly for the railway station and for upmarket venues in the immediate locality, having been largely superseded by other place names including Kings Cross and Camden Town.
In the 1790s Earl Camden began to develop some fields to the north and west of the Old Church as Camden Town, which has become a better known place name than St Pancras. In the mid 19th century two major railway stations were built to the south of the Old Church, one of them called St Pancras and the other King’s Cross. A residential district was built to the south and east of the church, but it is usually known as Somers Town. The term St Pancras is sometimes applied to the immediate vicinity of St Pancras Station, but King’s Cross is the usual name for the area around the two mainline stations as a whole.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, St Pancras was famous for its cemeteries: as well as the graveyard of Old St Pancras Church, it also contained the cemeteries of St James’s Church, Piccadilly, St Giles in the Fields, St Andrew, Holborn, St. George’s Church, Bloomsbury, and St George the Martyr, Holborn. These were all closed under the Extramural Interment Act in 1854; the parish was required to purchase land some distance away, and chose East Finchley for its new St Pancras Cemetery.
The disused graveyard at St Pancras Old Church was left alone for over thirty years, until the building of the Midland Railway required the removal of many of the graves. Thomas Hardy, then a junior architect and later a novelist and poet, was involved in this work. Particularly, he placed a number of gravestones around a tree, now known as “the Hardy Tree”. The cemetery was disturbed again in 2002-03 by the construction of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, but much more care was given to the removal of remains than in the 19th century.
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