The Cemeteries

This section will look into the two cemeteries which are connected to the old parish of St Pancras.

St Pancras Old Church

The churchyard, which is the largest green space in the locality of St Pancras, is managed by the London Borough of Camden. It has some fine mature trees, and was restored in the first few years of the 21st century. The original church yard was very large and included a number of famous burials (including an exiled Archbishop of Narbonne, Arthur Richard Dillon (1721–1807)) and many of the not so famous residents of St Pancras, including my 2 x great grand uncle, Joseph James William Griffiths.

Many of these human remains were reburied in St Pancras & Islington Cemetery, please see below.

Photos are © M&T Betts and Family Grows on Trees. All rights reserved. Please click on each one for a larger size.

The area of St Pancras

In the eighteenth century and nineteenth century, St Pancras was famous for its cemeteries. London was growing and a number of local parish churches had to use the fields around St Pancras as the final resting places for their parishoners. This was before the Victorians had yet realised the causes of cholera and other nasty diseases.  As well as the grave yard of Old St Pancras Church, the area also contained the cemeteries of St James’s Church, Piccadilly, St Giles in the Fields, St. Andrew’s, Holborn, St. George’s Church, Bloomsbury, and St George the Martyr Holborn.

These churchyards were eventually closed under the Extramural Interment Act in 1854, and the parishes of St Pancras and Islington bought new land near East Finchley, so that burials could take place far away from the city at the new St Pancras and Islington cemeteries.

These deserted city churchyards were left alone for over thirty years until the building of the great Midland Railway, meaning bodies and graves had to be removed. Not much care or consideration was made for the dead at first, and an outbreak of cholera in London didn’t help. Eventually, through the supervision of Mr Thomas Hardy and others, more care was given to the dead.  Evidence of Hardy’s work can be found at “Hardy’s Tree” (see below). The cemeteries were later disturbed in 2002 – 2003 for construction of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, but much more care was given to the removal of remains this time than in the 19th Century. These burials were re interred in St Pancras Cemetery, East Finchley.

St Pancras and Islington Cemetery

The Cemetery has been in existence since 1852, when the St Pancras Burial Board bought 88 Acres of the former Horseshoe Farm near present day East Finchley. It was good timing as the new Extramural Interment Act of 1854 stopped city burials, (a good thing, please see above). A further 94 acres was bought in 1877 and half of the area was given to Islington for their burials.

Also in this cemetery are various reburials from city cemeteries, including: St Pancras Old Church; St Mary’s Church, Islington; St Luke Old Street; The City Bunhill burial-ground, Golden Lane; and New Bunhill Fields, Islington.

In 2003, after the construction of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, all discovered bodies were reburied in St Pancras Cemetery. A memorial stone was placed there, which states: “Here lie the remains of Men and Women once laid to rest in St. Pancras Churchyard which were reinterred in St Pancras Cemetery in 2003 during construction of the channel tunnel rail line. Their names are unknown but their memory is treasured. May they Rest in Peace.”

As with many Victorian cemeteries, a number of famous people are buried in the various areas of St Pancras & Islington Cemetery, including wealthy industrialist and humanitarian Ludwig Mond whose family built a large mausoleum for him (photo below), the first Mayor of Islington Mr William Crump (photo below), first “pearly king” Henry Croft, a number of WWI and II soldiers (including one VC recipient, Valentine Bambrick), and the Pre-Raphaelite artist Ford Madox Brown, plus many more. Have a look at our galleries below.

The cemetery is now classified as a Local Nature Reserve, Borough Grade II, and is an area of neutral grassland, wetland, scrub and secondary woodland. In our many visits, we have seen a number of foxes wandering around – and that is only the surface! See our various photos below.

The cemetery is occasionally in the news and we’ll add articles when we see them below the photos.

Photos are © M&T Betts and Family Grows on Trees. All rights reserved. Please click on each one for a larger size.

2007 Visit

2011 Visit

In the News


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