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Published June 11th 2014
Ancient church with notable graves
Just down the road from St Pancras train station are the St Pancras gardens, which contain the Old Church (dating to the fourth century), the New Church (from the nineteenth century), and the graves of several notable individuals. The churchyard also is connected with the body-snatching activities of Jerry Cruncher in Charles Dickens' novel A Tale of Two Cities. The following are some of the most famous sites in the churchyard.
Sir John Soane was an architect who designed this large tomb for himself and his wife. The box-like structure in the centre of the memorial is said to have inspired the classic red telephone boxes designed by Giles Gilbert Scott.
Another literary and architectural connection is found in the Hardy Tree. The Ash tree was planted by Thomas Hardy, who was an architecture student and surveyor before becoming a novelist. Hardy was given the task of clearing headstones for a new railway line, but instead of disposing of the stones he arranged them at the base of the tree.
Charles Dickens' Headmaster
Charles Dickens' Headmaster. Photo by Erin Connelly
Aside from writing the churchyard into one of his novels, Dickens has another connection in the grave of his former headmaster, William Jones of the Wellington House Academy. Dickens did not have a good relationship with his headmaster and used him as the inspiration for the foul-tempered Mr. Creakle in David Copperfield.
Next to the small headstone of Dickens' headmaster is the grave of Mary Wollstonecraft, who was a famous philosopher and early advocate for women's rights. She is perhaps best known for her work A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, which is inscribed on her tombstone. She was also the mother of Mary Shelley (author of Frankenstein).