(lost) Hardy's tree



Not strictly a memorial but irresistible to include.

As railway lines were constructed through densely built-up parts of London, they often crossed old churchyards. The son-of-a-bishop architect Arthur Blomfield was commissioned by the Bishop of London to supervise the proper exhumation of human remains and dismantling of tombs. For the Midland Railway's route across the original St. Pancras Churchyard. In about 1865 he passed this unenviable task onto his trainee, Thomas Hardy. The work was done behind hoardings and Hardy would visit to ensure the work was being done correctly.

His poem "The levelled churchyard" was surely inspired by this experience:
We late-lamented, resting here,
Are mixed to human jam,
And each to each exclaims in fear,
'I know not which I am!'

Everyone "knows" that Hardy's solution to what to do with all the headstones was to place them around this tree. However, there is a 1926 photo of these stones with no tree. The most likely explanation is that the stones were only gathered here c.1877 when the old burial ground was converted into a public garden, and that the tree self-seeded at some time after that. We thank the London Dead blog for debunking the myth.

Site: Hardy's tree (1 memorial)

NW1, Pancras Road, St Pancras Gardens

This Ash is one of the Great Trees of London.

August 2019: A parasitic fungus that has appeared on the tree means that it has been pruned and cordoned off. The CNJ reports "grave concern".

June 2022: The CNJ reported "Historic Hardy Tree WILL fall" after being weakened by storms.

December 2022: Londonist reported that the tree has fallen.

This section lists the subjects commemorated on the memorial on this page:
Hardy's tree

Subjects commemorated i

Thomas Hardy

Novelist and poet, best known for his novels set in rural 'Wessex' such as Te...

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