St Pancras Old Church, London

 

In April 2015, the National Churches Trust awarded a £20,000 Repair Grant to St Pancras Old Church, London

This history of St Pancras Old Church is a long and exciting one. There is evidence to suggest that the Grade II listed church was founded around 1700 years ago on the site of a Roman shrine. The altar stone, still used to this day, has been dated to the 6th century, and definitive records of the church date back to the 11th century, making it one of the oldest churches in London. It has connections to the Tudor reformation and 17th Century Civil War, but really reached the height of its importance in the 19th century, when it was frequented by such literary figures as Mary and Percy Shelley, Thomas Hardy, and Charles Dickens. Its extensive churchyard (now reduced by the railway) was the original resting place of historical figures such as Mary Wollstonecraft, John Polidori, J.C. Bach, and Sir John Soane, whose Grade I listed memorial remains in the existing restored churchyard.

Project: The grant allowed the church to complete a number of urgent repair works including filling in Victorian drainage gullies, connecting the church to the main sewage system and the repair of a disabled toilet and small kitchen area. Stage one completed in October 2015 and they are waiting to see the outcome of the works before proceeding with stage two - the redecoration of the interior, rewiring, and installation of a heating system. All this will benefit the church in becoming a more open church. It is also hoped that the construction of Somertown Bridge (expected to finish in March 2017) will increase the number of visitors and usage of the church.

Challenges:

  1. Getting the drain system in at a reasonable price was difficult - the closest method to do the drain is actually the most expensive one, and the drain may affect tree roots and the graveyard. To resolve it they hired a drain specialist who proposed a different route, at a reasonable price, to connect the drain directly to the main sewage system down the street
  2. Raising money for drain systems is difficult! Not a catchy fundraising name. To resolve it, they applied to the NCT

Impacts:

  • A new drain system has allowed them to fix the WC and kitchen facilities, and to build a disabled toilet indoors, which is more welcoming to all visitors
  • The new disabled WC has enabled them to partner with the Community Centre of St Pancras to provide a service for the elderly in the centre, and to be more welcoming to families with elderly. This has given them more confidence with promoting the current building and has also lead to the organisation of new events such as a sing along tea
  • Heritage - they have created a guidebook of the church and churchyard, written by the members of the congregation who are historians, and have organised a lecture related to the people buried in the churchyard
  • Renting out church hall as an event location

New uses:

  • Partner with Community Centre of St Pancras to provide service for the elderly in the centre.
  • Organise lecture related to the people buried in the churchyard
  • Rent out church hall as an event location