Description and History from 1868 Gazetteer
ST. PANCRAS, a parish and extensive suburban district of London, in the Holborn division of the hundred of Ossulstone and borough of Marylebone, county Middlesex, 2½ miles N.W. of St. Paul's. It contains the Euston-square terminus of the London and North-Western railway; the King's-cross terminus of the Great Northern; the new terminus of the Midland Counties railway, now in course of construction; the Chalk-farm junction station of the North London, West London Extension, and London and North-Western lines; also the several stations on the North London and Metropolitan lines. This important parish comprises 2,600 acres, lying between Maiden-lane, Tavistock-square, Regent's-park, Primrose-hill, and Caen-wood, and includes the populous hamlets of Camden, Kentish, and Somers' towns, King's-cross, and parts of Haverstock-hill and Highgate.
The parish is traversed by the several lines of railway mentioned above, and by the Regent's-park canal, on the banks of which are numerous wharves and storehouses. Few places exhibit in a more striking manner the extraordinary increase which, within the last century, and particularly during the last twenty-five years, has taken place in the numerous districts bordering on the metropolis. In 1251 this parish contained 40 houses, but it subsequently declined, and in 1565 contained only 60 inhabitants, being described by a contemporary writer as "a remote and isolated spot, the resort of roages, vagabondes, and thieves;" it now has a population of more than 200,000, and in the magnificence of its streets and public buildings rivals the best districts of the metropolis. Amongst other fashionable neighbourhoods may be mentioned Argyll, Brunswick, Camden, Euston, Fitzroy, Gordon, Harrington, Mecklen burgh, Oakley, Regent, Tavistock squares; Burton, Gloucester, and Mornington crescents; Chester, Cumberland, and Gloucester terraces, facing the Regent's park; the last are adorned with alto-relieves and statues. At the N.W. extremity of the park, which is partly within this parish, are the gardens of the Zoological Society, laid out in walks and shrubberies, and containing various buildings for the interesting and extensive collection of wild animals, birds, reptiles, and insects, many of which have become acclimatised and bred in the gardens. At the eastern side of the park are the Diorama, now turned into a chapel, built in 1823 at a cost of 19,000; the Colosseum, built by Decimus Burton in 1827, after the model of the Pantheon at Rome, with a massive and boldly projecting portico of six columns, of the Doric order, supporting a cornice and triangular pediment. This last-named building, designed for the exhibition of the panorama of London, taken by Hornor and E. Paris in 1822 from the top of St. Paul's Cathedral, is 400 feet in circumference, and is surmounted by a spacious and well-proportioned dome crowned with a parapet; adjoining the main building are the Swiss cottage, lake, and falls, gallery of cartoons, &c. On the same side of the park is St. Katherine's Hospital, first founded in 1148, on the site of St. Katherine's Docks, by Queen Maud, but removed to its present site in 1826; also the cavalry barracks in Albany-street, built of brick, and occupying an area of 81 acres, with stabling for 400 horses, a riding-school, infirmary, magazine, and exercise ground. About a quarter of a mile to the S.E. of the Regent's-park, at the lower end of Gower-street, stands University College, founded in 1825 by Lord Brougham and others; the building, which is still incomplete, consists of one side of a quadrangle, 400 feet in length, with a Grecian portico of 10 columns in the centre, designed by Wilkins: it comprises a hall, 90 feet by 45; library, 120 feet by 50, containing 30,000 volumes, of which 10,000 are in Chinese; a museum, 120 feet by 50, now occupied by the junior school; an anatomical room and laboratory, 95 feet by 28; 4 lecture-rooms, 65 feet by 50; besides other offices. In the rotunda under the dome are exhibited above 100 casts of Flaxman's works, Westmacott's, "Locke," and other art treasures. Opposite the college stands the University College Hospital, originally founded in 1834, but enlarged in 1846 by the addition of a N. wing, built by Ainger. The total cost of the buildings and fittings was about £150,000, and the hospital has an income of about £5,000. In connection with the London University is University Hall, in Gordon-square, built in 1850 by Donaldson: it has four Flaherty scholarships of £50, besides other prizes. Further to the E., between Brunswick and Mecklenburgh squares, stands the Foundling Hospital, founded by Captain Coram in 1739, under royal charter of George II., "for the maintenance and instruction of deserted infants." These premises consist of a spacious chapel, which occupies the centre of a block of brick building designed by T. Jacobson in 1742, with two wings containing dormitories, school-rooms, and the apartments of the managers of the institution, which is supported by an endowment of £12,000 per annum, arising from funded property, besides other small sums given for admission to the chapel, the children's work, and subscriptions. The chapel is decorated with an altar-piece painted by West, and the organ was presented by Handel, who performed here his "Messiah," and presented the proceeds to the charity; also portraits of the founder, Dr. Mead, Charles II., views of Bethlehem, Chelsea, Christ's, and Greenwich hospitals, and Hogarth's famous "March to Finchley." Other public buildings are the Welsh School, in Gray's-inn-lane, built of brick in 1715, and containing portraits and several Welsh manuscripts; the Free Hospital, in the Gray's-inn-road, founded in 1828 by Dr. Marsden, and supported by an income of 15,000; the Prince of Wales's Theatre, a plain building, in Tottenham-street; the Veterinary College, in College-street, Camden. town; the Imperial Gas-works; Metropolitan Association model lodging-houses, in St. Pancras-road; the Governesses' Institution, in the Prince of Wales's-road; the Female Adult Orphan Home, in the Regent's-park, founded in 1818 for 70 daughters of officers and clergymen, and supported by an income of £2,000; the St. Pancras and Strand Union poor-houses; Weston House Lunatic Asylum; the Orphan Working school, Haverstock-hill; the terminus of the Great Northern railway, at King's-cross, built in 1849 on the site of the Smallpox Hospital, which was then removed to Holloway; the terminus of the North-Western railway, at Euston-square, with its massive gateway and great hall, designed by T. Handwick, and decorated with basso relievos by J. Thomas; also the goods station of the North-Western railway at Chalk-farm, including an extensive brick structure surmounted by a glass dome. The living is a vicarage* in the diocese of London, value £1,025, in the patronage of the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's, who usually appoint one of the canons. The new parochial church in Euston-square was built in 1822 by the Inwoods, at a cost of £76,679. It is formed after the model of the Temple of Erectheus at Athens, with a tower or steeple of three receding stages 165 feet high, resembling the Temple of the Winds, and is entered under a portico of six fluted Ionic columns, supporting an entablature and cornice surmounted by a triangular pediment. At the E. end of the structure are two projecting wings, forming the vestry and registry, the roofs supported on caryatides, after the fashion of the Pandrosium. The interior is decorated, the altar-piece having six verd antique columns of Scagliola marble from the Temple of Minerva, and the pulpit, carved out of the stump of the famous Fairlop oak, which was blown down in 1820. The old parish church, in the St. Pancras-road, now a district church, is an ancient structure of stone and flint, built originally in the 12th century, but so changed by subsequent alterations and repairs that it retains few vestiges of its original character. It has a new N. tower, and was completely restored in 1848, under the direction of A. Gough, when the original altar-stone, Roman bricks, and other antiquities were found. In the churchyard are many tombs of eminent foreigners, and of literary and artistic celebrities. Numerous new churches have been built in various parts of the parish, which is now cut up into ecclesiastical districts, as St. Jude's, in the Gray's-inn-road; St. Matthew's, Bedfordtown; St. James's, in the Hampstead-road; St. Mark's, in the Albert-road; Christ Church, in the Regent's-park; All Saints', in Gordon-square; St. John the Evangelist, in Charlotte-street; St. Ann's, Highgate-rise; St. Martin, Kentish-town; besides various others of more recent erection, and several proprietary chapels, as Fitzroy, Gray's-inn-lane, Percy, and Woburn chapels. The Roman Catholics and the several Protestant Dissenting churches have places of worship, the most pretentious of which is the Irvingite Cathedral, or so-called Catholic Apostolic church, in Gordon-square. There are numerous schools and charitable institutions, only a few of which require separate mention, as the St. Pancras charity school for girls, in the Hampstead-road; the Russell school of industry; the Roman Catholic grammar school, held in the old vestry room; and the collegiate school, for middle-class education, nearly opposite the "Southampton Arms," and in front of which is the site selected for the proposed Cobden memorial. The names of many eminent men are associated with St. Pancras, as having been born, lived, or buried within this parish. Besides its own burial-grounds, St. Paneras contained the cemeteries of St. James's, Piccadilly; St. Giles's-in-the-Fields; St. Andrew's, Holborn; St. George's, Bloomsbury; and St. George the Martyr; but these are now closed under the Extramural Interment Act, and the cemetery for the parish itself is removed to Finchley. In this parish are also Bagnigge Wells, formerly celebrated for its chalybeate waters, St. Chad's Well, and St. Pancras Wells. St. Pancras forms a union of itself, under the new Poorlaw Act, and is a superintendent registry district, with St. Katherine's, but exclusive of Highgate. It is comprised within the Bloomsbury new county-court district.
[Description(s) from "The National Gazetteer of
Great Britain and Ireland" (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]
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[Last updated on 9 Oct 2003 by David Hawgood. ©2003]