The old and the new of St Pancras

Earlier this week we were watching Who Do You Think You Are which featured Brian Blessed researching his family tree.  During the show he went to a church behind St Pancras station in London and both Ken and I commented on how lovely it looked – so no time like the present, today we went off in search of St Pancras Old Church.

As we alighted from the underground at Kings Cross we decided to first pay a visit to St Pancras International – the new of the title.  This is the station that Eurostar leaves from and is a beautiful old building being used for a very modern purpose.

Here are a few shots showing the magnificent outside of the station……..

Inside there are people everywhere with cases either arriving or heading off for romantic trysts in the city of lights – I like to imagine that’s what anyone going to Paris is doing.  It’s a huge space and when it was built in the late 1800’s it was the largest enclosed space in the world! 

The metal arches that make up the building are really pretty as is the stonework – everywhere you look there are details that make you realise how great the architects of the past were.

I love how the modern and the old sit side by side and look like they were meant to be that way.  There are several statues and art installations – the one I most wanted to see was the Lizard People.  It’s a statue, by Paul Day, of two lovers meeting at the station but because of their eyes they often get called the Lizard people – here’s a coupe of shots, you decide for yourself.

It’s a very large statue and all around the base are amazing carvings of life in Britain over the years – here’s a couple of sections that we liked.

There’s also a lovely statue of John Betjeman, the poet whom Ken is a big fan of.  Along the walk way there are also excerpts from some of his writing carved into stone and set in the floor.  It’s a really lovely tribute.

In the station there is lots of hustle and bustle but there are also a couple of old pianos just sat there for anyone to play, and both were being played by passer-by’s and both were very good.

So as we don’t dent our reputation for coffee and cake we headed into the Fortnum and Mason outlet to treat ourselves – very nice it was too.

We then left the station and headed off to find the church – it wasn’t too much of a walk and it was definitely worth it.  It’s a small church but quite a significant one – it sits on a site that has seen Christian worship there since the 4th century and is still very much an active church, with services every Sunday and during the week.  We were lucky enough to arrive when no one else was there so one of the volunteers gave us a talk about the history of the current building and the ones that have gone before.

 

The Churchyard is beautiful with some wonderful tombs and headstones – yes, wonderful.  A couple of famous people buried there are Sir John Soanes, architect, and Mary Wollstonecraft who was a staunch supporter of women’s rights and wrote books on the subject, and her daughter Mary went on to write Frankenstein.

The Soane’s tomb which Sir John designed himself

Mary Wollstonecraft’s tomb

Another great feature of the graveyard is the Hardy Tree – the Victorians needed to clear part of the churchyard for a train line and at the time Thomas Hardy the author was working there as a junior surveyor and he was given the job of moving the graves.  He placed the headstones around the base of a tree and they now look like they have always been there, like a weird stone root system for the tree – I loved it.

Here’s a few more shots from around the churchyard……..

As we were walking back to the station I managed to find a lovely cat to have a chat to, but to begin with he was a little bit preoccupied trying to catch a pigeon, or maybe just trying to convince himself that one day he will take the final leap and catch one.  Once the pigeon had flown off we were able to have a natter.

Cat and pigeon facing off

We also came across this great artwork on the outside of a building behind the station – once again showing what amazing things you can discover if you go slightly off the expected route.

Just as we were about to go back into the station we noticed these fabulous dragons carved into the building above our heads.  Such incredible details on this gorgeous old building.

So that was our visit to St Pancras – so much to explore and see in such a small area.  I would definitely recommend a visit to St Pancras Old Church – it’s open every day, and lets hope that the next time my beloved and I are at St Pancras International we’ll be being whisked away by Eurostar for one of those romantic trysts.

Until next time, be good, keep smiling, and have a closer look at the area you live in as you might just be surprised by what you see.

Pamela & Ken
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