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.

19 Responses to Welcome

  1. Alex Smith says:

    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 says:

    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.

    • Joanne_Paul says:

      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 says:

      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 says:

    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.

    • Joanne_Paul says:

      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 says:

    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) says:

    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.

  6. Bob Franklin says:

    My third great-grandfather, William Franklin and his wife, Elizabeth Bannister, were married at St Pancras in 1814. I have seen the Bishop’s Transcript of the marriage. I will be coming to London on the 21st from America, and I was wondering if the church has any additional records from that time period which have not been copied and indexed in the various on-line genealogy resources, i.e., membership rolls, list of church officers, etc.

    • Joanne_Paul says:

      Great to hear from you! Is he any relation to the William Franklin who is buried in the churchyard? All of our records are held at the London Metropolitan Archives, so you’ll have to arrange with them to see any records related to your ancestors. I do hope you pop by the church, however! We’re open every day, and if you let us know in advance we may be able to arrange for someone to guide you around and answer any questions.

  7. Geraldine Wotton says:

    I love this little church. I worked as a Speech and Language Therapist at St Pancras Hospital in the early 1990s and I often ate my lunch in the church yard. However unbeknown to me my great great great great Grandparents George and Elizabeth Nottridge’s were married at the church on Christmas Day in 1845. They lived in Little Clarendon Street in old Somers Town (now different road name). Which although could be pure coincidence but as a rather feral teenage (which we all were back then) growing up in North London, I’d often had reason to move in and around the area and always had a clear memory of doing so.

  8. E S Hoogenhout says:

    i know it probably won’t help to cast some light on family riddles, but, you never know :-)
    My grandmother, Harriet-Jane Swain, was a nurse at St Pancras Hospital in the first decade of the 1900’s, where she is said to have fallen in love with a surgeon from a noble family. When she fell pregnant, he heartlessly abandoned her and according to family, he fled to “The Colonies”. My mother was given up for adoption and Harriet-Jane went on to marry a London banker, who was devoted to her and they were very happy,even though they could never have children. Fate can be very cruel, can’t it?
    The surgeon? One can only guess at his name: Harriet named my mother DOROTHEA LOIS HAWKINS SWAIN.
    Does anyone know of a Hawkins surgeon at St Pancras Hospital around 1905-1908?Who can help?

  9. Richard says:

    Sir Rufane Shaw Donkin GCH KCB FRS FRGS (1772 – 1 May 1841), was a British army officer of the Napoleonic era, the governor at the Cape from 1820-21. and later a Member of Parliament. He named Port Elizabeth in South Africa after his wife who had died in India. He was buried here in 1841 along with an urn containing the heart of his first wife. His two sisters Jane Anna Donkin and Laetitia Donkin are also understood to be buried here. When St Pancras station was built their graves were moved, and the original locations are now covered with an embankment. There is a memorial to Laetitia at St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol whihc was placed their by her siblings.

    http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=27927879

  10. Andy B says:

    Hi,
    I am researching my family history and many of my family have been christened and married at Old St Pancras, including my parents back in 1961. From speaking to my mum it seems my great grandfather and his brother, Samuel and Maurice Moore who manufactured wrought iron replaced or repaired the gates and wondered if there would be any records of this, it would have been late 19th, early 20th century.

    Many thanks for your help!

    Best Regards

    Andy

    • Joanne_Paul says:

      Hi Andy!
      Thanks for getting in touch. I’ve put our parish historians on the case, and this is what they’ve come up with.

      “St Pancras Gardens. Completed by arrangement with the Midland Railway Company 1890 – 1891

      Inaugurated on 15th July 1891 by Nathan Robinson LCC and Frederick Purchase – Churchwardens. There is a Purchase memorial in the Gardens.

      I imagine the gates might date to this opening. They were designed for and ‘badged’ with a cartouche of St Pancras, top centre, now gone. The railings either side of the St Pancras Church gate are of distinctly different designs.”

      And…

      “I know the St. Pancras Vestry Records, available form Holborn Library Camden Local Studies go into great detail on the works to establish the park including names of contractors for the demolition etc. so I suspect they mention the Co. responsible for the ornate gates.”

      Hope that helps!

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