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The Hardy Tree

Home > London > Fun Things To Do | Outdoor | Free
Published July 9th 2011
A bit like the concrete nose on Admiralty Arch, the Hardy Tree is one of London's quirkier spots. If you happen across it without knowing anything about it, you'll certainly be baffled, possibly even a little shocked. So what is it all about?


Essentially what you have is a cluster of gravestones placed around a large tree inside the grounds of St. Pancras Old Church, which itself is situated around the back of St. Pancras International station.

The story goes that before becoming a successful novelist, Thomas Hardy lived in London studying architecture for five years from 1862.


Hardy's mentor was a man by the name of Arthur Blomfield, and it was he who was handed a somewhat grisly task by the Bishop of London.

The construction of the Midland Railway line in the 1860s saw its route pass through a part of the churchyard.


This meant that many bodies had to be exhumed, and some tombs dismantled. Arthur Blomfield evidently and quite understandably wasn't too keen on the whole idea of dealing with the deceased, so what did he do? He asked Thomas Hardy, of course.

Now it's quite likely that Hardy was hardly pleased to be handed the task, but he had little choice but to go ahead with the job asked of him.


Hardy carried out his duty in 1865 (he would have been about 25 years old then), supervising the removal of bodies and such like.

As the track was laid down, cutting through part of the churchyard, Hardy helped to organise the shifting of many of the gravestones, and had them placed around what today is a sizeable ash tree. It's not certain what happened to the bodies.


The cluster of gravestones is an odd sight, to say the least. But knowing that one of the world's most famous novelists was involved in its creation makes it all the more fascinating and well worth a look.
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Why? It's a sight that has to be seen to be believed.
When: From 9am till dusk.
Where: St. Pancras Old Church, Pancras Road, London, NW1 1UL
Cost: Free
Comments
New reader comment. Waiting for approval.
By Anonymous
Wednesday, 25th of July @ 12:55 pm
How fascinating
By Shannon Meyerkort - senior reviewer
Tuesday, 31st of July @ 01:43 am
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