St Pancras shown within Greater London
|OS grid reference|
|Ceremonial county||Greater London|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|UK Parliament||Holborn and St Pancras|
|London Assembly||Barnet and Camden|
|List of places: UK • England • London|
St Pancras is an area of London. For many centuries the name has been used for various officially-designated areas, but now is used informally and rarely, having been largely superseded by several other names for overlapping districts.
St Pancras was originally a medieval parish, which ran from close to what is now Oxford Street north as far as Highgate, and from what is now Regent's Park in the west to the road now known as York Way in the east, boundaries which take in much of the current London Borough of Camden, including the central part of it. However, as the choice of name for the borough suggests, St Pancras has lost its status as the central settlement in the area. The district now encompassed by the term St Pancras is not easy to define, and usage of St Pancras as a place name is fairly limited.
The original focus of St Pancras was St Pancras Old Church, which is in the southern half of the parish, and is believed to be one of the oldest sites of Christian worship in Great Britain. However, in the 14th century the population abandoned the site and moved to Kentish Town. The reasons for this were probably the vulnerability of the plain around the church to flooding (the River Fleet, which is now underground, runs through it) and the availability of better wells at Kentish Town, where there is less clay in the soil. The old settlement was abandoned and the church fell into disrepair. However, some residence continued near the old church as is shown on the 1801 map of the area and in an 18th century landscape that turned up in 2007.
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.
The parish of St Pancras was administered by a vestry until the Metropolitan Borough of St Pancras was established in 1900. In 1965 the former area of the borough was combined with that of two others to form the London Borough of Camden.
During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, St Pancras was famous for its cemeteries, for 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 "Hardy's Tree". The cemetery was disturbed again by the construction, in 2002–2003, of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, but much more care was given to the removal of remains than was the case in the 19th century.
The name St Pancras survives in the name of the local parliamentary constituency, Holborn and St. Pancras. One of the political wards in Camden is called St Pancras and Somers Town; however, ward boundaries are chosen to divide a borough into roughly equal slices with little regard to historical boundaries or day-to-day usage. Besides Somers Town and the area around St Pancras Old Church, the ward includes much of Camden Town and the former Kings Cross Goods Yard, which is being redeveloped as a mixed-use district under the name Kings Cross Central.
Old St Pancras Church and its graveyard have links to Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, and the Wollstonecraft circle. Immediately to the north of the churchyard is St Pancras Hospital, formerly the London Hospital for Tropical Diseases. St Pancras is one of the best-known railway stations in England. It has been extended and is now the terminus for the Eurostar services through the Channel Tunnel.
- Nearest places
- Reg Freeson, politician
- ^ a b http://www.familygrowsontrees.com/research/Pancras.html
- ^ Camden Town and Primrose Hill Past by John Richardson (1991) ISBN 0-948667-12-5
- ^ http://www.familygrowsontrees.com/research/railways.html
- ^ "GENUKI: St Pancras History". Homepages.gold.ac.uk. 2003-10-09. http://homepages.gold.ac.uk/genuki/MDX/StPancras/StPancrasHistory.html. Retrieved 2011-12-10.
- ^ http://www.stpancras.com/about-stpancras/stpancras-history/
- ^ a b "The Hardy Tree, St Pancras Churchyard, London". Victorianweb.org. 2006-04-17. http://www.victorianweb.org/photos/hardy/74b.html. Retrieved 2011-12-10.
- ^ http://www.familygrowsontrees.com/research/cem.html
- ^ http://www.familygrowsontrees.com/research/lit.html
|This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at St Pancras, London. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.|