Wednesday 9 October 2013

London Necropolis: The Hardy Tree

With Samhain, or Halloween, nearly upon us, I thought I'd continue my series of photos of London's burial grounds under the title London Necropolis - a Necropolis being a city of the dead. This strange conglomeration of gravestones intertwined in roots is called The Hardy Tree and it is in the grounds of St Pancras Old Church.

The church's website explains how this strange site came to look as it does today: "As the age of steam travel got underway, the Victorian’s set about the ambitious plan of building a railway through the churchyard. Many bodies had to be exhumed and moved. Their original tombstones were re-erected around the base of a nearby ash tree. This was at the direction of Thomas Hardy, the famous writer, who at that time was a surveyor."

Over time, the ash tree and its roots grew to encompass the gravestones to create the view we can see today. Yggdrasill, the Old Norse tree of life, is supposed to have been an ash tree and I like to think that it is here symbolically guarding the remains of our London ancestors.

I do hope the Hardy Tree doesn't fall victim to ash tree dieback.

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