Welcome

Welcome to the Saint Pancras Old Church History Project Website

SPOC

St Pancras Old Church has been a site of Christian worship since the 4th century. It is thought that this church is on a site that has offered worship for more than 1700 years. Fragments of Roman material can still be seen here and there in the fabric of the current building. The monuments and reuse of stone chart the history of the church’s development over time. Spanning eight centuries since Fulcherius in the late 12th century the incumbents stretch down to the present day, Fr James Elston becoming the Team Vicar in 2012.

Our project aims to recover some of this 1600 years of history through archival and scholarly research, as well as building on the collective memory of a thousand years of parishioners and visitors to St Pancras. We hope that some of you reading this blog might have your own memories or family history to contribute, and we welcome stories, photos and whatever else you might have to share.

10 responses to “Welcome

  1. My understanding is that this site specifically inspired Blake to write his poem Jerusalem. The myth is that when Jesus was a youth and before his ministry began he travelled out from Alexandria with his Uncle Joseph, who was a metal trader. Two places in England they went to were firstly Glastonbury in Somerset that still boasts Joseph’s thorn and where tin was traded from the Mendips and secondly London. The metal trading wharves in London were on the Thames where Blackfriars is now. Next to these wharves was the river Fleet. At the highest navigable point up the Fleet was St Pancras where there was a pre-existing spiritual site that Jesus, being interested in these things visited.
    Blake, who lived close by in London for most of his life, knew of this myth and created his most famous poem around it, also creating what has been called the second English National Anthem.
    There are many confirmations of this in the imagery in the poem, most notably the “ dark satanic mills” which refer to all the grain mills around the site when Blake was alive, situated on Granary St and Granary Square amongst others. Blake was also an admirer and collaborator with Mary Wolstoncraft, illustrating some of her books.
    If you want to raise money to rebuild the church it would seem sensible to make the most of the story which could have a lot of resonance across the world.

  2. Keith Hawkins

    Firstly – I was pleased to note that, on this week’s University Challenge, there was a round of questions on St Pancras Churchyard.
    Secondly – I am born and bred in Liverpool, but have family history associated with St Pancras Old Church and would like to share some of the research I have made into the life of my Great Great Grandmother Sarah Hawkins nee Austing: Sarah Austing was born in St Pancras on 11th September 1809 and was baptised in St Pancras Old Church some six weeks later on 22 October. She was the daughter of William and Hannah Austing and she had two brothers – William and John. Her mother Hannah died in 1836 and her funeral took place at St Pancras Parish Chapel on 3 July that year. The following year, on 16 December at a joint wedding at St Pancras Parish Chapel, Sarah married Francis Hawkins, and her father William married his second wife Sarah Elizabeth Hardy.
    In 1841Francis Hawkins was working as a Mathematical Instrument Maker and he and Sarah were living in Smith Street, St Pancras with their two sons Francis and Thomas.
    In 1851 the family had moved to 20 Wilstead Street, St Pancras, Francis junior was now living with his grandparents, but Thomas remained, together with a daughter, Emma and my Great Grandfather Frederick.
    In 1861 the family had relocated again and were now in Middlesex Street, St Pancras. Francis was now listed in the census as a Shop Owner. Frederick was now the only child still residing with Frederick and Sarah and at the age of 17, was working as a Pork Butcher.
    Francis died in St Pancras in 1877 and in 1881 Sarah was on her own, now living at 10 Popham Street in Islington and was working as a Laundress.
    Having outlived her husband and her four children, Sarah died in 1890 at the age of 80 in the St Pancras Workhouse and her funeral was held at St Pancras Parish Chapel.

    My wife, Brenda and I had the pleasure of visiting St Pancras Old Church last month and we were made very welcome and found out about several links to Liverpool which were a happy coincidence.

    • Thank you so much for all of that! So interesting to hear about all the lives which intersect with our church. Do drop by again some time!

    • Keith Hawkins

      As an added bit of information – I have now discovered that Smith Street, Middlesex Street and Wilstead Street no longer exist. Smith Street was demolished to make way for St Pancras Station, Middlesex Street became Purchase Street and Wilstead Street was absorbed into Ossulston Street.

  3. Brian Wright

    I wonder if you can throw any light on an item I bought at auction in Devon a few ago. It is a fire back, a metal plate designed to go behind a grate to protect the wall from the flames. On this is a cast iron parish boundary mark bearing the letters S P P M (St. Pancras Parish Middlesex). This measures 47 x 37 cm. It is mounted on a wrought iron plate which rather resembles an upside down portcullis measuring 65 x 61 cm. The boundary mark, which is dated 1871, has nothing on its lower part. However, two in situ boundary marks of this type have figures in cast numbers indicating the distance to the boundary on the lower part. One, bearing the same date is to be found on the west side of York Way, N.7., just north of the junction with Market Road, while the other, dated 1874, is on the west side of York Way near the junction with North Road.

    The fact that the mark on the fire back has no ‘distance figures’ would suggest it was specially cast for incorporation in the fire back. Could this have been made to go into a parish building such as the Vestry Hall built in 1847 which, I believe,was in use as a Roman Catholic Grammar School in 1863? Another possibility is that it came from either the Parish Work House, built in 1809 and later enlarged, or the Vicarage. It still has traces of soot on the surface.

    I would be grateful for any information or ideas regarding this item. I have been researching parish boundary and other marks for the last three years in preparation for a book on the subject, hence my interest. At one stage St. Pancras parish produced a booklet with all its boundary marks sketched and their position noted, and I was wondering if you had a copy of this or knew where one was located, and whether it would be possible to get a photocopy of this.

    I look forward to hearing from ypou

    Brian Wright.

    • Dear Brian,
      Thanks for writing! This all sounds very fascinating. I’ve sent it around to some of the other members of the group, and I’m afraid little has come from it, but we’ll keep pondering.

      Not sure about the booklet you refer to. Worth noting that all our records are held at the London Metropolitan Archives – some digging there might produce some results.

      In addition, it could be that it refers to the other St Pancras, and it might be worth contacting them.

      I’ll let you know if anything else surfaces. Thanks so much!

  4. Tom Clarke

    Hi,

    I’ve just been doing a bit of amateur genealogy. It appears that my great, great, grandfather was Rev James Carter Rendell, who was reverend in the1910s and 20s I believe.

    Which blows my mind somewhat, given that I managed Camley Street Natural Park from 2006-2009 without being aware of this! A lovely parallel – happy to contribute a small piece if you are interested.

    Cheers,

    Tom Clarke

  5. Pauline Nelson (Canada)

    St. Pancras Old Church was the place of worship for many of my ancestors, so I was thrilled to find it and explore the interior on a recent stopover in London.
    My grandmother Ada Sharp was baptized at St. Pancras in 1895 and her parents Charles Sharp and Annie Pennington were married there a year earlier. My great-grandmother Annie Emily Pennington was baptized there in 1866 when the family lived in Chapel Grove. Her father Charles Pennington was a coal porter living Chalton Street when he married Mary Ann Wright at St. Pancras Chapel in 1865. Mary Ann had been baptized there in 1843 and her parents William Wright and Mary Ann Reed were married at St. Pancras Chapel in 1839.
    I haven’t researched the family history further back as yet, but the Sharp family resided in Ossulston Street and then Frideswide Place until it was bombed in WWII. I purchased one of the booklets on the church history and found it very interesting.

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