I write time-split novels where the past impacts on the present and in my new novel One Bright Day I have a scene set in St Pancras Old Church London. I lived in London many years ago and visited this lovely old church and adjoining cemetery. There is nothing more I enjoy than discovering churches new to me and wandering around old cemeteries. When I lived on a farm north of Perth we’d always stop when we drove past an old country cemetery. There is something captivating about them, especially for a writer, imagining stories for those long ago people and the lives they may have lived.
St Pancras Old Church
One of my characters walks through this gate to attend a London wedding.
The Hardy Tree
In the churchyard of St Pancras Old Church in London, hundreds of old gravestones circle an ash tree. Of course, these were not how they were originally laid out. So, how did they get to this, their final resting place, as it were? And who was responsible?
Long before he became famous for novels like Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Far From the Madding Crowd and The Mayor of Casterbridge, Thomas Hardy (like any other aspiring writer) had to find employment with which to pay his way through the world. His chosen field was to be architecture.
When the church grounds were being cleared tomake space for the railway line, Hardy was a London architect’s assistant. He had the grim task of exhuming hundreds of bodies and removing their graves.
During the work Hardy ordered headstones to be placed under this ash tree. His reasons are unknown but Hardy was a keen naturalist and may have done it to prevent the tree being removed. Alternatively, he saved the stones to respect the people whose final resting place had been disturbed.
Have a wonderful weekend, writing, dreaming, reading!