The most welcoming tree

The cemetery of Old St. Pancras Church has many stories to tell.

The most famous is perhaps the tale of the young Mary Goodwin (later Shelley), the author of "Frankestein" visiting the grave of her mother Mary Wollstonecraft, the writer of "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman", and meeting up secretly with Percy Bysshe Shelley at the start of one of the most revealing Romantic relationships.

Another interesting anecdote originated in this place is the inspiration that supposedly the architect Giles Gilbert Scott seems to have got from the mausoleum of Sir John Sloane to design the iconic English telephone box.

It is in the furthest corner of the cemetery though, just behind the evocative St. Pancras Church and close to a tall and long brick wall that lies the so-called Hardy Tree.

The association with novelist and poet Thomas Hardy – who was an architect and surveyor early in his life – is due to the job he had in 1865 to clear a section of the cemetery as part of the enlargement of the Midland Railway station of St Pancras.

After clearing the graves and reburying the remains in an alternative site, rather than disposing of the tombstones, he decided to place them in a circular pattern around a small ash tree by the back of the church.


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