The Hardy Tree

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    Probably the best known and almost certainly the most photographed monument in Old St Pancras churchyard is the Hardy Tree. The world probably doesn't need another picture of this particular ash but you can hardly ignore it once you are there can you? The tree probably has nothing to do with Hardy but the plaque that explains the tenuous connection glides over this fact:

    "The novelist and poet Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) is best known for his novels set in rural 'Wessex' however before turning to writing full time he studied architecture in London from 1862-67 under Mr. Arlhur Blomfield, an architect based in Covent Garden. During the 1860s the Midland Railwayline was being built over part of the original St. Pancras Churchyard. Blomfield was commissioned by the Bishop of London to supervise the proper exhumation of human remains and dismantling of tombs. He passed this unenviable task to his protegé Thomas Hardy in. c.l865. Hardy would have spent many hours in St. Pancras Churchyard . . . overseeing the careful removal of bodies and tombs from the land on which the railway was being built. The headstones around this ashtree (Fraxinus excelsior) would have been placed here about that time. Note how the tree has since grown in amongst the stones."

    The London Dead:

    Urbanimage, Clea and Leigh Romeo, and 8 other people added this photo to their favorites.

    1. Forgotten Heritage Photography 22 months ago | reply

      Wow, never seen this before. Quite impressive location for sure. I one spent an afternoon in a north london churchyard (maybe this one) looking for the tomb of Sir John Soane that Giles Gilbert Scott's red telephone box design was based upon.

    2. O.F.E. 22 months ago | reply

      You were obviously in the wrong place because there is no way that you could spend more than 3 minutes here in St Pancras churchyard (which is where you should have been) without seeing this or the Sir John Soane mausoleum. It's the bit in the middle that is meant to look like a phonebox. It sounds like an urban myth to me.

      Sir John Soane Mausoleum, Old St Pancras churchyard

    3. Forgotten Heritage Photography 22 months ago | reply

      Weird. Yes I saw the Mausoleum so it was definitely the right place although I think we may have gone to another 'wrong' graveyard first before finding this one.

    4. BigLoada [deleted] 22 months ago | reply

      This is amazing. And a fantastic photo OFE! Interesting to learn that about Hardy, I love his writing. Had no idea he studied architecture.

    5. Whipper_snapper 22 months ago | reply

      Interesting. I had never heard of this nor of Hardy's connection with the area.

    6. fast eddie 42 22 months ago | reply

      Very nicely captured & processed.

      I had no knowledge of this churchyard or indeed it's noteworthy inhabitants.
      Your flickr stream is constantly intriguing, excellent photography coupled with insightful information & indeed social history.

    7. Jim529 22 months ago | reply

      Smashing picture and informative text. I do think the mausoleum looks like the phone box!

    8. flacko_man 22 months ago | reply

      Probably wouldn't've been called the Hardy Tree if he hadn't become a well-known poet and novelist. The Chap Overseeing the Exhumations and placed the Headstones here Tree doesn't have that much of a ring to it.

    9. jordi.martorell 22 months ago | reply

      nice take on a classic

    10. O.F.E. 22 months ago | reply

      Even if you are in the right churchyard you might miss this if you don't know it's here. For some reason there is a chest high privet hedge right round it.
      Cheers B'Loada
      I'm surprised you haven't heard of this Barry
      Thank you for the very kind words fast eddie. There are quite a few famous people buried in what is quite a small churchyard.
      I still think it looks more like a Tardis....
      If it wasn't for the Hardy connection someone would have probably tidied the headstones up and propped them against a wall which is what they usually do with them.
      It almost feels like posting a photo of Buckingham Palace....

    11. Matt Brock ☀ 22 months ago | reply

      I had a go at this one but couldn't get any of my shots to come out right for some reason. You've done a better job than I did!

    12. Geoff Main 22 months ago | reply

      Fact certainly is stranger than fiction - the headstones stacked under a tree looks weird enough; before even considering how they got there.

    13. oz_lightning 22 months ago | reply

      Thanks for the background, O.F.E. The photo wouldn't have made sense, otherwise.

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