The Hardy tree
The cemetery next to London’s St. Pancras Old Church, considered by many to be one of the oldest places of Christian worship in England, is a special place of several fascinating stories.
Perhaps one of the most striking oddities in this beautiful area is the Hardy Tree. The Hardy Tree in London is a large impressive ash, surrounded by hundreds of weather-lived gravestones practically layered on top of each other and positioned around the tree. How did these tombstones come together and who put them that way? It’s an interesting London story about the Hardy Boom.
London The Hardy Boom
In the mid-19th century, the rail network in Britain’s rail system was booming and with the enormous growth in population, the city of London outgrew its railways. Also with an ever-increasing population, especially commuters who would work in London, an extension was planned that would directly affect the cemetery at the old church of St. Pancras.
To make way for the new railway line, an architectural firm has been contracted to take on the sensitive task of excavating the bodies. These would then be reburied in one other place. As a good tradition agrees, a young employee of the architectural firm was entrusted with this thankless task. The young architect’s name was Thomas Hardy. In the following decades he would also become known for writing a number of classic novels such as “From the Madding Crowd” and “Tess of the D’Urbervilles”.
After the bodies were exhumed and reburied elsewhere, hundreds of gravestones were left and with these gravestones, asking what should be done with them.
The solution Thomas Hardy came up with was to place them in a circular pattern around a large ash tree in the cemetery near the old St. Pancras dungeon. In a place that would not be disturbed by the railway.
We can only speculate on how he came to this decision, but over the years many tombstones have been swallowed up by the tree, creating a surreal image and the gravestones and the tree, together represent a combination of life and death. This makes London and the Hardy Boom a draw for thousands of tourists every year.