27 November 2014
St Pancras Church London

Liberal Anglican Christianity in Central London

History

Pancras was the orphaned Christian son of a Phrygian nobleman.  He was brought up at the Court of the Emperor in Rome. At the age of 14, refusing to betray his Christian faith by offering incense in worship to Dioclesian, he was executed by decapitation on 12th May, 304 A.D. on the Aurelian Way, where a Basilica was later raised in his honour.

Ten years later, it is believed, the first church of this parish was built in the site of a Roman encampment over-looking the River Fleet.

The successor to this venerable shrine, rebuilt in medieval times and again in 1848, still stands in the old churchyard in Pancras Road, behind the station.

The ancient parish of St Pancras, which was not subdivided until 1868, extended from what is now Torrington Place right up to Kenwood House on Hampstead Heath.  Due to its location 'in the fields', and the existence since about 1200 of a chapel-of ease at Kentish Town where most of the parishioners lived, the old church became neglected.  By the end of the 18th century, it was considered unworthy of the inhabitants of the newly-built houses on the Bedford Estate to the south of the New Road (Euston Road)...London's first ring road.

Proposals for a new church met with strong resistance from the Vestry (the Local Authority of the time) which had been unable to raise money to build an adequate workhouse to care for the poor.  In 1816, however, the necessary Act of Parliament was obtained, authorising the borrowing of 40,000 to be repaid by levying an unpopular Church Rate, which had rarely been necessary before, thanks to the income from the Church Lands, an ancient charity dating from before 1200.

In 1818 the Trustees bought a site on the Euston Road from the Southampton Estate, and invited suggestions for the design of the new church.  Thirty entries were received, and the first premium was awarded to the local architect William Inwood and his son Henry.

 

Please click here for a report on urban geology in St Pancras Church.

© 2005 St Pancras Church, Euston Road, London, NW1 2BA, 020 7388 1461, office@stpancraschurch.org